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1-11

I tend, as a rule, to avoid very long books. I more or less agree with Nietzsche’s sentiment that ‘if a man can write at all, he can write concisely’. Life is too short for books over 400 pages. Beyond that limit, they are just an indulgence of the vanity of their authors.

Still, exceptions to this often arise, and one such case is ‘A Patriot’s History of the United States’ by Larry Schweikart and Michael Allen.

This bulky volume, written in 2004, was developed as a counterweight to Howard Zinn’s critically adored ‘People’s History…’, and provides a very different, less politically correct version of the American past to the one we are taught in schools. The book’s subtitle is ‘From Columbus’s Great Discovery to the War on Terror’ and this dizzying span is covered thoroughly with vibrant, partisan prose and well-referenced detail.

The facts contained in this work are so numerous and interesting that the reader risks becoming the pub bore for many weeks after finishing it. Did you know, for example, that liberal states managed to have it both ways on segregation by the over-use of IQ tests? That’s right, in liberal Northern states, Blacks were separated from Whites from a young age by the use of cognitive exams, despite the fact that at this point the Northerners claimed superiority over the racists in Dixie for the same (differently arrived at) situation.

Also chronicled are the hideous, racist roots of the Democratic party and how its behaviour contrasted with the morally beautiful conduct of the Republicans on the issue of African liberty.

As you’d expect, slavery is covered extensively in this book but (with the authors’ skill and determination) it mostly serves to illustrate the brightness that surrounds the aberration.

America might have a history riddled with controversy. It may have made mistakes. That’s not really in doubt. But, at its best, the country is a superhero among the nations; the St George who slayed the dragons of fascism and communism, and the sharpest weapon we possess against their gruesome Islamic inheritor.

I tend to go a bit watery-eyed when thinking or writing about America. That’s because every year I spend in Britain is a year spent away from where I want to be. One day, in the right circumstances and with my best efforts invested, I want to live within the picturesque suburbs of Alabama, Mississippi or Georgia. We all have dreams and that’s mine.

Beyond the personal, America is big enough, strong enough and radical enough to survive any of the criticisms made of it. It is the best hope we have for survival and the best model for our continued prosperity.

D, LDN.

 

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