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The Idea That Is America: Keeping Faith With Our Values in a Dangerous World Paperback – May 27, 2008
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"Anne-Marie Slaughter is that rare scholar who is fully engaged with the issues she studies and passionate about the causes she believes in. It makes for a formidable person and a fascinating perspective on global affairs." -- Fareed Zakaria
"When it comes to thinking about, and explaining, America's role in the world at a time of incredible challenge and change, Anne-Marie Slaughter is one of this country's most valuable players. She brings the discipline of a leading academic together with keen political insight. I greatly value her advice." -- Joe Biden
"Anne-Marie Slaughter's voice is at the center of twenty-first century foreign policy leaders: strategic yet practical, willing to understand others but not afraid of power, a builder of international institutions and law as a way to get things done in an intractable world. What she says from now on matters enormously across the political spectrum." -- Leslie H. Gelb
From the Publisher
"If an American renaissance is to happen, Anne-Marie Slaughter shows, it will be because US leaders and citizens return to the bedrock ideals that fueled the American dream. In this forceful and necessary book, Slaughter elegantly mines pivotal moments in US history for contemporary insight, and she shows that leaders who take heed of law and justice, and who proceed with humility, can leave behind a more peaceful and just America, and a more stable world."--Samantha Power, Anna Lindh Professor of Practice of Global Leadership and Public Policy, John F. Kennedy School of Government, Harvard University and Pulitzer Prize-winning author of "A Problem from Hell": America and the Age of Genocide
"Passionately argued, yet plainly written, The Idea that is America is part credo, part manifesto -- a wholehearted return to first principles by one of America's most talented and distinguished legal minds. Anne-Marie Slaughter's analysis of the U.S. constitution and its legacy encapsulates the liberal interpretation of American history, while her recommendations point the way to a paradigm shift in American foreign policy."--Niall Ferguson, Laurence A. Tisch Professor of History, Harvard University and author of The War of the World and Colossus
"Slaughter's book focuses on an important theme and one close to my heart: the relationship between power and principle. Her arguments, stated with passionate conviction and intellectual clarity, appeal both to my heart and to my reason."--Zbigniew Brzezinski
"Anne-Marie Slaughter has written a book that will educate and inspire all Americans. At a time when many claim that we cannot afford the luxury of our liberties, she explains why America's values remain vital, how they can be preserved and strengthened, and what it means to live by these ideals. This book should be required reading for every citizen."--Fareed Zakaria, author of The Future of Freedom and editor, Newsweek International
"The Idea That is America is a brilliant book, deeply moving, exquisitely timed, authored by one of our country's leading scholars."--Madeleine K. Albright, Former Secretary of State
"Read this book and be challenged to think about, to aspire to, and to work for American values."--George P. Shultz, Thomas W. and Susan B. Ford Distinguished Fellow, Hoover Institution, Stanford University, and Former Secretary of State --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Top Customer Reviews
See my five-star review of the same author's A New World Order, which is the better book for professionals. This book I recommend to those who are, like the author of the book, emerging counter-culture spirits, restless in harness, acutely aware of the hypocrisy of "Empire as Usual" under this nominally liberal Administration as under the last. My book Election 2008: Lipstick on the Pig (Substance of Governance; Legitimate Grievances; Candidates on the Issues; Balanced Budget 101; Call to Arms: Fund We Not Them; Annotated Bibliography) covers the same ground from a more pragmatic focus on the need for reality-based governance.
I have two competing views of this book. The first, beyond five stars, is earned by this quote from page 13:
QUOTE: In our history, the greatest patriots have been those leaders and ordinary citizens who have dared to hold America to our own highest standards--even at the cost of ostracism, punishment, imprisonment and, at times--e3ven death." I would add unemployment to the list--Washington today does NOT want to hear truth about anything at all.
My second view is somewhat jaundiced, as the author is both limited to the usual suspects in her citations (a cup of Founding Fathers with a sprinkling Council on Foreign Policy elites holding forth on the ideals at the same time they are working actively against the public interest across the board).
This book is well-intentioned and absolutely a joy to read. The best thing I can say about it is that everyone should write such an essay in their lifetime, if only to reconnect to the fundamentals, however narrow their focus.
I would have left the book at five stars had the author not so much time on the myth of Lincoln and the Civil War.
The author loses a star with me when she parrots the Abraham Lincoln line and clearly buys in to the idea that the Civil War was about the abolition of slavery. That's what I thought when I did my 110 page Senior Thesis (Singapore American High School) on the causes of the civil war. As a broadly read adult, I now know that it was a war by the industrial North against the agrarian South, against legitimate constitutional secession, followed by a twelve year carpetbagging military occupation and looting of the south. I know that Lincoln only freed the slaves the north did not control, out of "military necessity," and that the slaves in the North and West remained slaves. Lincoln violated the Constitution in suspending habeas corpus, conscripting Northern men to fight their countrymen in the south, and in declaring war on voluntary members of the United STATES of America. See my reviews on the various books at Phi Beta Iota under "Worth a Look: Book Reviews on Self-Determination & Secession." Her lack of knowledge (which I shared until recently) is representative of the fragmentation of knowledge and concentration of wealth that is killing the USA and the rest of the world, and the more I read, the more I am troubled by how ignorant we have all become, knowing more and more about less and less. This is a major reason why diversity joined clarity and integrity in the sub-title of my new book--without diversity of view so as to achieve holistic understanding, we cannot overcome the limitations of individuals including myself, and all the more so with respect to international and indigenous self-determination.
I absolutely love the author's appreciation for information and information sharing. On page 233 I am delighted to find this:
QUOTE: On homeland security, it turns out that spreading information about threats rather than hoarding it under more and more layers of classification is more likely to protect us.
Yup. Been saying that for 21 years, and I am the recovering spy, not an academic isolated from the worst of the secret world (such as the 80 disparate rotten databases in the National Counterterrorism Center today, run by a lawyer whose life experience has not prepared him for the task of herding rabid cats, dogs, and the occasional skunk).
Highlight for me include:
+ Author assisted by a direct descendant of Nathan Hale, whose statue stands in front of CIA HQS.
+ Author totally connects and represents the idea that America is an idea, not just a place, an idea about humanity and self-determination.
+ Author is clearly deeply troubled by the hypocrisy of it all. Only this past month the earnest Secretary of State got laughed out of the Middle East for talking about Iran as a dictatorship when we are best pals with 42 of the 44 dictatorships on the planet (see Ambassador Mark Palmer's superb Breaking the Real Axis of Evil: How to Oust the World's Last Dictators by 2025), a number of them in the Middle East and the beneficiaries of our massive proliferation of weapons of public repression and destruction.
Other books along these lines that I recommend (easier to find my reviews at Phi Beta Iota, all linked back to their respective Amazon page but also sorted in like categories, 98 of them):
Counterculture Through the Ages: From Abraham to Acid House
What Kind of Nation: Thomas Jefferson, John Marshall, and the Epic Struggle to Create a United States
The Thirteen American Arguments: Enduring Debates That Define and Inspire Our Country
Imagine: What America Could be in the 21st century
Preparing America's Foreign Policy for the 21st Century