- Hardcover: 240 pages
- Publisher: Doubleday; First Edition/First Printing edition (June 19, 2007)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0385513127
- ISBN-13: 978-0385513128
- Product Dimensions: 5.8 x 0.9 x 8.5 inches
- Shipping Weight: 12 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 3.3 out of 5 stars See all reviews (14 customer reviews)
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #632,156 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Americanism:The Fourth Great Western Religion Hardcover – June 19, 2007
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American Enterprise Institute fellow Gelernter argues that America is a biblical republic and Americanism a biblical religion encompassing an American Creed with three political ideals (liberty, equality, and democracy) and a doctrine, American Zionism, incorporating the biblically derived ideas of a chosen people in a promised land. Americanism is global. There's no need to be American, or to believe in God, to subscribe to it. Still, to understand Americanism, you need to understand America. Gelernter discusses the emergence of Americanism through several crucial events in American history: the Puritan exodus from England, the American Revolution, the Civil War, World War I, the cold war, and Islamic terrorism. He insists that his book is neither history nor group portrait but instead "an essay in folk philosophy." Not everyone will agree with Gelernter's conclusions (e.g., "If there is to be justice in the world, America must create it"), but he offers fascinating food for thought. Sawyers, June
Advance Praise for Americanism
"David Gelernter is a national treasure, a patriot-scholar. In Americanism, he explains what America is to him—an idea, a belief, a religion. The City on a Hill has no greater or more powerful an advocate.”
—Bill Bennett, host of Bill Bennett's Morning in America and author of America: The Last Best Hope
“David Gelernter always has something fresh to say about any subject he touches, but never has he been so original as in this brilliant analysis of what is truly distinctive about America and in the new idea he propounds of the role played by the Bible—and especially the Old Testament—in the evolution of our special national character.”
—Norman Podhoretz, author of The Prophets and editor-at-large, Commentary magazine
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Top Customer Reviews
THe only slight qualm is that the author describes something called 'American Zionism' when he should properly have called it American israelitism, which was the term for it in the 19th century. It is no secret that from the earliest pilgrims such as Winthrop through the present day America has been seen as a 'city on the hill' or the 'new Jerusalem'. Mormons took this a step further and created a religion where America literally became the new Zion.
This book examines the religious heritage of America, her Protestant origins and her insistance on freedom and individualism.
A very well written account that provides further understanding of American heritage, history and culture.
Seth J. Frantzman
He sees the great phases of the development of Americanism as a faith from its founding by the Puritans, transformed during the Revolution by the original founders, and transformed again by Lincoln, whom he calls the final founder. He then sees Theodore Roosevelt and Woodrow Wilson as taking the faith into its international doctrines including the Spanish American War and World War I. I do not share his enthusiasm for the Progressives because I am quite uncomfortable with their dismissal of the Constitution as antiquated and that it must yield to their doctrines of progress. But this is not something Gelernter is addressing too directly, because he wants to get us someplace else.
The author does not see FDR as a high priest of Americanism, but with Harry Truman and the Truman Doctrine and his support of the founding of Israel we get another transformation and big step forward in Gelernter's view of the foreign policy of Americanism.
I did find his discussion of Vietnam, the four lies that too many people believe about the war, and how intellectuals have pressed that war into an American equivalent to what the First World War did to Europe to be quite interesting. He does support George W. Bush's efforts in foreign policy if not every practical application.
While I did not agree with every step of his arguments and have more reservations that I laid out in this review, I did gain a lot from reading this book and thinking about the arguments presented by the author.
Very much worth reading.
Reviewed by Craig Matteson, Ann Arbor, MI
Another book with a different take on a similar topic is Promisted Land Crusader State by Walter MacDougall
Promised Land, Crusader State: The American Encounter with the World Since 1776