"The Columbian Age [the Age that occurred after Christopher Columbus discovered America] was built on colonial attitudes: on taming the wilderness, civilizing the savage, and the American dream of endless plenty. Now there is nothing left to colonize...Mankind will either share [this planet] or fight over it--a war nobody can win...[The United States of] America...must now examine its own record--the facts, not the myths--and free itself from the potent but potentially fatal mix of forces that created its nation, its empire, and the modern world."
The above is the very last paragraph of this eye-opening and riveting book by award-winning novelist, historian, author, and essayist Ronald Wright.
This book's primary purpose is to understand the rise of the United States from small colony to world's lone superpower in the span of only two centuries. By delving deep into history, Wright is indeed able to, as the above quotation states, separate fact from myth.
Interpretive history is also included. That is, the author is able to draw parallels from events of the past and apply them to today's events. The result is a coherent and insightful historical analysis of the United States, an analysis that some people may find difficult to read.
What I especially enjoyed about this book is that it contains the actual writings of those from the past. Some of these writings may be distressing to some readers.
Each chapter begins with a few profound quotations from others. My favourite:
"The real war has been to keep alive the light of civilization everywhere...The end of the world begins not with the barbarians of the gate, but with the barbarians at the highest levels of state."
(Acclaimed Nigerian poet and novelist, Ben Okri, 2003)
Finally, it should be mentioned what this book is not:
(1) It is not a rant. A rant is written work based on emotion (usually anger) and opinion. This book is based on history. It contains almost 125 pages of notes and bibliography.
(2) It is not Anti-American. By examining history and human behaviour, the author derives his insight.
In conclusion, this book is a must for those who want to understand the United States and our times.
(first published 2008; forward; 9 chapters; main narrative 225 pages; notes; bibliography; acknowledgements; index; about the author)
<<Stephen Pletko, London, Ontario, Canada>>