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Jefferson, Nationalism and the Enlightenment Paperback


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Product Details

  • Paperback
  • Publisher: George Braziller (October 1986)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0807611638
  • ISBN-13: 978-0807611630
  • Product Dimensions: 8.1 x 5.2 x 0.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 11.2 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 1.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #953,680 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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1 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Joseph M. Hennessey on November 22, 2011
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
"Jefferson, Nationalism and the Enlightenment" consists in lectures and essays first delivered elsewhere. Commager declares his theme on p. 3, that "the Old World imagined the Enlightenment and the New World realized it."

Henry Steele Commager is one of the most eminent of American historians, but that does not make him infallible. For a work of a great scholar, i found this book rife with Steele's political biases. From the first page of the preface, Commager's dated biases show, when he negatively refers to [the law and order] Mayor Rizzo of Philadelphia, San Clemente, the CA home of Richard Nixon, and My Lai, the Vietamese village where American soldiers committed a massacre. Is being against these, and other short-hand code terms for things conservative, a plausible political position? Of course, but just don't present it as the unvarnished, unbiased objective Facts.

On p. 4, HSC states that Jefferson only made [empty, symbolic] gestures to God, but how would HSC know what was in Jeff's mind and heart--there is evidence on both sides. On p. 17, Commager matter or factly uses the popular phrase 'separation of church and state,' when he as a trained historian knows that what was barred by the First Amendment was any established religion (and that only on the federal level,' and that the term 'separation . . ' was coined by Jeff. in a private letter of 1803. On p. 69, HSC noted that Jefferson used the word "monkish" 2 weeks before he died, which merely shows that Jeff. was captive of his anti-Catholic bias til the end, which was much of the foundation of his unorthodox Christianity. Sad for a very bright man. On p. 110, Commager seriously discusses the 'right to happiness' in American political thought.
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