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58 of 59 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A very good general history for the student and reader interested in a positive view of America
This is the second volume of William J. Bennett's history of America. It is written for the general reader or student who is interested in reading the history of our country from an unabashedly supportive point of view. Bennett judges events, good and bad, from a moral point of view that would be recognizable to anyone aware of traditional religious teaching, that is...
Published on May 4, 2007 by Craig Matteson

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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars great book - don't get the kindle edition
First of all, this is an awesome book. The author shows proper research, and presents it clearly. The main issue that I have is with the kindle version. It is abominably edited, and has an appalling number of punctuation errors and mistypes. This book is assigned for me to read for my history class, and it is painful to read. I Love the content, but it sorely needs...
Published 13 months ago by Josh


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58 of 59 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A very good general history for the student and reader interested in a positive view of America, May 4, 2007
This review is from: America: The Last Best Hope (Volume II): From a World at War to the Triumph of Freedom (Hardcover)
This is the second volume of William J. Bennett's history of America. It is written for the general reader or student who is interested in reading the history of our country from an unabashedly supportive point of view. Bennett judges events, good and bad, from a moral point of view that would be recognizable to anyone aware of traditional religious teaching, that is before the moral relativism of the mid-twentieth century took hold of historical writing.

Bennett picks up the narrative from the first volume with World War I and takes us through the end of Ronald Reagan's presidency and the end of the Soviet Union and the Cold War. He offers an epilogue explaining why he ended the volume there and talks briefly about his view of America and our current situation in the world, including the current war.

As one can tell from the title of these works, Bennett does believe in American Exceptionalism and that, despite its failings, we are a moral country that is seeking to do right and to improve. For this reason, this can be a refreshing read for anyone who believes in traditional morality, admires American, and yet desires a readable and honest history that doesn't shy away from our mistakes and failings. The focus is always on history being made and lived by real people rather than some abstract forces. Bennett is also clear about the various political perspectives of the various historical actors and commentators. This helps the reader keep straight how various schools of political thought have affected the course of history in our country and around the world.

I can imagine that any number of students who are home schooled would use both volumes of these texts to study American history. While this isn't the only such option available, it is easy to read and tells stories about our history that one doesn't find in many other places. He doesn't shy away from the role of religion in our nation's public life, which I enjoyed a great deal. This current obsession of sanitizing the public square of religious expression is a recent innovation and a mistake. It also distorts our history so greatly as to be dishonest about the contributions of religion and its huge role in the fabric of our nation's history.

Another very refreshing inclusion is the role of conservative thought and not treating it as the source of all malevolence or as an aberration that must be gotten rid of as soon as possible. One can even read about Ronald Reagan, William Buckley, Milton Friedman, and others without all kinds of qualifiers, personal attacks, and scare quotes.

Is the book perfect? Of course not. No history can be. I do wish there were more pictures and that those supplied were printed in better quality. However, in the age of the Internet, a student can go find any number of images on any topic he or she chooses. So, this is not a big problem.
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27 of 28 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A great addition to volume 1..., May 3, 2007
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This review is from: America: The Last Best Hope (Volume II): From a World at War to the Triumph of Freedom (Hardcover)
William Bennett's America: The Last Best Hope, Vol. II is a wonderful conclusion to the work he began in volumer I. Full bodied, well written and honest in its breadth, Volume 2 is the history that most Americans would be proud of. I also agree with the other reviewer that both volume I and II would make a terrific course of study for home schooled children. I would go one step further in stating that it should be required reading on every high school and perhaps college campus in the country, not because it cries out our successes and glosses over our mistakes. Infact, the book does make much of our successes in the 20th century. Bennett does an excellent job in discussing our role in two world war victories. He explains our unsurpassed economic growth and our continued dominance in the world market. He includes our movement in making sure that all are given the opportunity to share in the country's richness. But Bennett also includes our failures and this is what makes the book so great.

My favorite topics of this book are Chapters 1 (America and the Great War (1914-1921)), Chapter 2 (The Boom and the Bust (1921-1933)), Chapter 4 (America's Rendezvous with Destiny (1939-1941)), and those sections dealing with the Reagan years. Bennett is not embarrassed over his devotion to Ronald Reagan and this is clear in the book.

I highly recommend Volume 2.
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14 of 14 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A good, readable U.S. history book, May 17, 2007
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This review is from: America: The Last Best Hope (Volume II): From a World at War to the Triumph of Freedom (Hardcover)
This book is a perfect follow up to the first volume. Bennett continues his readable writing style. Even those that marginally like history should find the book enjoyable to read.

While the first volume covers over four centuries, this second volume covers about three quarters of a century. With 533 pages of reading material and 41 pages of bibliography, it is still necessary to drastically limit scope. This is perhaps the most difficult task for a history writer. It necessarily means that some issues are touched upon only lightly.

Bennett's sense of what to include lends to the book's readability as much as does his writing style. He cleverly weaves in human interest stories that help draw the reader in. These vignettes demonstrate America's strengths and weaknesses, but overall they provide an optimistic view of the U.S.

Another device Bennett uses for limiting scope is to largely frame the book around national politics, and particularly around presidential administrations. This is highly useful in providing insight into the kind of people Americans have elected to govern them, which provides a glimpse into the thinking and experiences of Americans at regular historical intervals. But this device also tends to lightly treat some important issues that are not well addressed in national politics.

Bennett's personal feelings regarding historical figures was evident in the first volume, but it seems to me that this shines through much more clearly in the second volume. Perhaps this is because Bennett personally experienced many of the later events and has even had dealings with some of the people he discusses.

For example, Bennett's respect for Eisenhower and Kennedy are apparent, as is his undisguised disgust with Johnson and Nixon. Nowhere is Bennett's loathing more apparent than in his treatment of the withdrawal of American support from Southeast Asia in the mid 70s that resulted in the deaths of over two million human beings.

One of the highlights of the book is Bennett's handling of World War II. I felt a palpable sense of what average Americans in the pre-war years were experiencing as the free world hurtled toward a showdown with fascism and militarism. Not only did I feel a sense of how average Americans experienced the war, but I gained fresh insights into the personalities and interconnections of the movers and shakers in the war.

More than anything else, this book helps explain the whys behind historical events. And it does so in a pleasantly readable way. I assume that some history professionals would dismiss Bennett's book as lacking some of the elements they have come to expect in scholarly offerings. Bennett, himself a professor of history, says that most such history tomes are dry and deplorable. He argues that few Americans understand history because few good and readable history texts are available. With this book and its predecessor volume, Bennett does a good job of making sure that at least some factual, readable, and optimistic American history books are available.
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15 of 17 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A superb history of the United States of America, August 23, 2007
This review is from: America: The Last Best Hope (Volume II): From a World at War to the Triumph of Freedom (Hardcover)
The first volume of "America: The Last Best Hope" is, in my opinion, the finest contemporary history of the United States yet written. It is an honest telling of the nation's history, warts and all, a far cry than the America hating nonsense that is unfortunately being taught to our children.

The second volume isn't as good. Still superior to anything else on the subject I've read, but I felt that there should have been two volumes, not one. The first covering 1914 to about 1945 and the second from roughly 1945 through the Reagan years.

Why? Because I felt that Dr. Bennett had crammed too much into this single volume and, as a result, been forced to omit illuminating detail. More time and space, for example, should have been spent on examining how Democrats in Congress perpetuated racial discrimination for almost a century and fought demonically until the last to prevent passage of the Civil Rights Act.

Instead, many historically significant episodes are reduced to a few sentences. Still illuminating, but leaving the already knowledgeable reader panting for more. Dr. Bennett and, I presume, his research team have been more than diligent in teasing obscure sources out of the archives and provide new information even to someone like me who has been an avid consumer of American histories for more than five decades.

The book is not perfect. There are small, but disturbing errors, such as the misspelling of Messerschmitt, a WWII German aircraft manufacturer.

On the whole though, this remains a marvelous history of America, faults and all. It would make a wonderful gift, I think, for any intelligent high-school or older student from a giver who wants the recipient to know just how fortunate they are to live in this magnificient nation.

Jerry
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Living History, May 25, 2007
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This review is from: America: The Last Best Hope (Volume II): From a World at War to the Triumph of Freedom (Hardcover)
Bill Bennett's writing makes history relevant to us in the 21st century. He relates what was going on in today's term or English language usage. Let's face it, there were periods of our past that not much happened, according to the folks that wrote our Jr. High, High School and college texts. But, with Bill's writing it is revealed that there is 'stuff' goin' on all the time! It is difficult to find books about the period from 1800 to 1860; Bill fills in the void in Vol. 1 very well. To many of us, history started with WWII, Bill fills in what really was going on that pulled us into WWI. A history that reads like a novel, but all is true (and footnoted)! Exciting reading.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The bibliography alone is worth the price., June 6, 2007
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Rosey (Kansas, USA) - See all my reviews
This review is from: America: The Last Best Hope (Volume II): From a World at War to the Triumph of Freedom (Hardcover)
Dr. Bennett has that rare and profoundly deft, encyclopedic grasp of American history. He extracts the most noble and inspiring melody from a cacophony of voices -- newspapers, commentaries, biographical sketches, and personal memory. One cannot be but impressed by the good American has done, and by inference, why we are the last best hope for mankind. Along with Vol. I, it left me with a love for our country, a confidence in our Constitution, and an amazing respect for the blessed wealth engine we have, especially for good when we are at our best.

This is delightfully easy to read, too. I was startled by how fast I read it; I rarely had to re-read a paragraph or page due to flowerily or obtuse style. At the same time, I love a book that sends me to the dictionary a few times.

Hat tip, Dr. Bennett!
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Stuff you didn't learn in school, May 16, 2007
This review is from: America: The Last Best Hope (Volume II): From a World at War to the Triumph of Freedom (Hardcover)
Mr. Bennett writes in an easy style without putting the reader to sleep. He makes history interesting by injecting stories and information that one would rarely be exposed to in our current education system. Mr. Bennett does not sugar coat some of our darker periods of history. Although I feel he does not particularly hold politicians of the Democrat party in high regard he does not attempt to glorify his Republican colleagues through the writing of this book either. While other reviewers may disagree with this at least Mr. Bennett gives us backstory information on historical figures that makes their personalities and stories more interesting than the dull and dry dates and facts you got while in school. Regardless of your political leanings both volumes I & II should at least pique your interest to learn more about our great country.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars History Comes Alive, August 31, 2007
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P. N. Anderson (Huntsville, AL USA) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: America: The Last Best Hope (Volume II): From a World at War to the Triumph of Freedom (Hardcover)
The book was of special interest to me as I have lived through the major portion of this period of history and recall much that is written but also learn much more. The author's coverage of most of the 20th century included the American presidents as well as other national leaders. The book will probably be considered politically incorrect by many due to his casual reference to the specific prayers of several presidents. He touched on subjects other than government including books and music. Some events receiving extensive attention were World War l, the Depression, World War ll, the Civil Rights Movement, and the Cold War. . I believe for the most part he was very objective although he appeared to have a negative bias toward Presidents Wilson and Nixon and a very positive bias toward President Franklin Roosevelt. He wrote with first hand knowledge of President Reagan and the first President Bush. History becomes very interesting under this author's pen.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Review: America: The Last Best Hope (Volume II), July 27, 2007
By 
Poky (Tennessee, USA) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: America: The Last Best Hope (Volume II): From a World at War to the Triumph of Freedom (Hardcover)
I gave this book 5 Stars because I think the author did exactly what he set out to do: present a light, airy, easy to read narrative of American history covering the period from WWI to the end of the Cold War. Because this is not a text book and is limited in size and scope constraints likely placed on it by the publisher (530 pages), it necessarily raises as many questions as it answers. Considering those constraints, I found the presentation to be fast, fair, fun, educational, interesting, and accurate.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars BUY THIS!, February 8, 2008
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This review is from: America: The Last Best Hope (Volume II): From a World at War to the Triumph of Freedom (Hardcover)
Bill Bennet writes well and presents an informative history that does not "read" like a history text. I have both volumes, and though I considered myself well-versed on American history, he pointed out aspects of our nation's history that had been left out of my education.
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