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America: The Last Best Hope (Volume I): From the Age of Discovery to a World at War Hardcover – May 23, 2006

ISBN-13: 978-1595550552 ISBN-10: 1595550550 Edition: First Edition

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America: The Last Best Hope (Volume I): From the Age of Discovery to a World at War + America: The Last Best Hope (Volume III): From the Collapse of Communism to the Rise of Radical Islam
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 592 pages
  • Publisher: Thomas Nelson; First Edition edition (May 23, 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1595550550
  • ISBN-13: 978-1595550552
  • Product Dimensions: 9.5 x 6.4 x 1.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (91 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #92,080 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Bennett, a secretary of education under President Reagan and author of The Book of Virtues, offers a new, improved history of America, one, he says, that will respark hope and a "conviction about American greatness and purpose" in readers. He believes current offerings do not "give Americans an opportunity to enjoy the story of their country, to take pleasure and pride in what we have done and become." To this end, Bennett methodically hits the expected patriotic high points (Lewis & Clark, the Gettysburg Address) and even, to its credit, a few low ones (Woodrow Wilson's racism, Teddy Roosevelt's unjust dismissal of black soldiers in the Brownsville judgment). America is best suited for a high school or home-schooled audience searching for a general, conservative-minded textbook. More discerning adult readers will find that the lack of originality and the overreliance on a restricted number of dated sources (Samuel Eliot Morison, Daniel Boorstin, Henry Steele Commager) make the book a retread of previous popular histories (such as Boorstin's The Americans). This is history put to use as inspiration rather than serving to enlighten or explain, but Bennett does succeed in shaping the material into a coherent, readable narrative. (May 23)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From School Library Journal

Adult/High School–This exhaustive political and military history is well organized, with an excellent table of contents, 13 chapter titles that include dates, and each chapter divided into sections with headings for easy scanning. The chronological narrative covers familiar content, and Bennett writes in a conversational tone. In each chapter he sets the stage, relates events in detail, sprinkles in quotes from personages or literature of the time, and then shifts into editorial mode on such issues as slavery, the treatment of Native Americans, and child-labor practices. He humanizes the main characters with physical descriptions and anecdotes. This lively book acknowledges mistakes and shortcomings, yet patriotically asserts that the American experiment in democracy is still a success story.–Sondra VanderPloeg, Tracy Memorial Library, New London, NH
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

More About the Author

William J. Bennett served as Director of the Office of National Drug Control Policy under President George H. W. Bush and as Secretary of Education and Chairman of the National Endowment for the Humanities under President Reagan. He holds a bachelor of arts degree in philosophy from Williams College, a doctorate in political philosophy from the University of Texas, and a law degree from Harvard. He is the author of such bestselling books as The Educated Child, The Death of Outrage, The Book of Virtues, and the two-volume series America: The Last Best Hope. Dr. Bennett is the host of the nationally syndicated radio show Bill Bennett's Morning in America. He is also the Washington Fellow of the Claremont Institute and a regular contributor to CNN. He, his wife, Elayne, and their two sons, John and Joseph, live in Maryland.


Customer Reviews

I think that this should be a must read for every American high school student.
A. Nagle
The very fact that I have already read about half of it in the past day it has been released should attest to how difficult it is to put this book down.
R. Shepherd
It is a good basic narrative history that moves quickly while also trying to make note of interesting anecdotes and trivia along the way.
Keith Costigan

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

237 of 255 people found the following review helpful By R. Shepherd on May 24, 2006
Format: Hardcover
I am not sure if other reviewers have been able to read this whole thing or not, since it did just come out yesterday. Admittedly, I myself have yet to finish it,however, I have read about half of it. Being a history student in a department with many prominent historians, most notably Leonard Richard who has become particularly famous for his original analysis of John Quincy Adam's anti-slavery rhetoric as a congressman, I am extremely fond of new history books.

Mr. Bennett's book is truly a masterpiece. The very fact that I have already read about half of it in the past day it has been released should attest to how difficult it is to put this book down. Despite the fact that Mr. Bennett clearly has a political past, this book is highly non-partisan as he praises both political sides. The only bias that Mr. Bennett holds is that he (as do I ) think America is the greatest nation on the face of the Earth. This is not blind patriotism or nationalism. Instead it is patriotism based on fact more than pure emotion. He admits that our nation has had MAJOR problems, especially in terms of racial history. However, as he states, no nation is perfect and every other nation has similar disturbing facets of their past. Keeping that in mind, America has been and still is the beacon of freedom and hope around the world. Mr. Bennett's research is extremely thorough (first thing I do when I check a history book are check the sources.... he derives his information from historians ranging from Shelby Foote to Harry Jaffa to Douglas Brinkley to Henry Steele Commager to David McCullough; really some of the greatest in their field).
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103 of 115 people found the following review helpful By Monty Rainey VINE VOICE on June 1, 2006
Format: Hardcover
William Bennett has long established himself as an author of sorts, not so much by what he has written, but in what he has compiled. He has given us such great compilations of writings from an array of sources in monumental books such as the Book of Virtues, The Moral Compass and Our Sacred Honor, but in his latest venture, AMERICA: THE LAST BEST HOPE, Bennett varies from the role of editor, into the full blown role of writer and does so in superb fashion.

Bennett's personal indiscretions will cause the shallow minded reviewer who chooses to "kill the messenger" to delight in denigrating this fine work, but do not let that discourage you from exposure to this magnificent book. This is not just another dogged approach to American history. This is the story of America presented in a flowing narrative that is concise, insightful, accurate and teeming with adoration for the country that is, in fact, the world's last best hope for the future. Concurrently, Bennett is not averse to exposing the faults of our history in such areas as slavery and Jim Crow laws.

The truly defining moments of our rich history have inclusion here. Of course, even with it's rather hefty 544 pages, it is impossible to do little more than scratch the surface, but for an overview of history, Bennett has meticulously chosen the essential events necessary to impart the desired outcome.

Throughout the years, many have sought to duplicate this effort as volumes covering the matter here are abundant, but with the passage of time, I believe this work will stand the test and emerge as one of the best sources available in this venue. Not because it simply presents the history, but because it instills pride in the reader.
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24 of 25 people found the following review helpful By Alan Rockman on June 10, 2006
Format: Hardcover
Some of my most favorite childhood memories were reading books in the acclaimed LANDMARK series of histories for young people, plus the Golden Book History of America, the Golden Book History of the Civil War, written by Bruce Catton and the editors of American Heritage.

In the wake of the upheavals of the 1960s, the Vietnam era and Watergate, it suddenly wasn't cool to take pride in the History of America. Today, our children suffer from this lack of United States History in our school curriculums. Ever hear of Ethan Allen, or Mad Anthony Wayne, or the "Swamp Fox", Francis Marion?
Or Jeb Stuart or David Farragut? Not to mention Francis Parkman?

Speaking of Parkman - ever hear of Stewart Holbrooke, who wrote about "Forgotten Americans" - and became one himself. Or other fascinating historians. Even the name of Carl Sandburg is almost forgotten these days though in his vivid words and imagery he helped bring Abraham Lincoln to life in the eyes of countless Americans. Our wonderful History is largely forgotten by our citizens today, and at our own peril.

At least William J. Bennett, former Secretary of Education, has done his very best to remedy this situation in his new book "America: The Last Best Hope". Bennett, known for his compelling "Book of Virtues", has written an American History that is a relatively easy read, and like the "Book of Virtues" should be required reading by Americans of ALL Ages - especially those in the formulative years.

As an educator myself, I am deeply troubled by the lack of interest of our youth in learning about our history.
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