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By Colin Woodard

The writer of American Nations examines the background of and recommendations to the foremost American query: how most sensible to reconcile person liberty with the upkeep of a unfastened society

The fight among person rights and the nice of the group as an entire has been the root of approximately each significant war of words in our historical past, from the debates on the Constitutional conference and within the run as much as the Civil battle to the fights surrounding the agendas of the Federalists, the Progressives, the hot purchasers, the civil rights circulate, and the Tea occasion. In American Character, Colin Woodard lines those key strands in American politics in the course of the 4 centuries of the nation’s lifestyles, from the 1st colonies in the course of the Gilded Age, nice melancholy and the current day, and he explores how varied areas of the rustic have effectively or disastrously accommodated them. The self sufficient streak discovered its such a lot pernicious shape within the antebellum South yet was once balanced within the Gilded Age by way of communitarian reform efforts; the recent Deal was once an instance of a profitable coalition among communitarian-minded jap elites and Southerners.

Woodard argues that preserving a liberal democracy, a society the place mass human freedom is feasible, calls for discovering a stability among preserving  individual liberty and nurturing a unfastened society. Going to both libertarian or collectivist extremes leads to tyranny. yet the place does the “sweet spot” lie within the usa, a federation of disparate nearby cultures that experience constantly strongly disagreed on those matters? Woodard leads readers on a riveting and revealing trip via 4 centuries of fight, experimentation, successes and screw ups to supply a solution. His traditionally proficient and pragmatic feedback on tips on how to do so stability and holiday the nation’s  political impasse should be of curiosity to somebody who cares in regards to the present American predicament—political, ideological, and sociological.

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Extra info for American Character: A History of the Epic Struggle Between Individual Liberty and the Common Good

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If “practicality” were ever acceptable when dealing with tyranny, would it not also have been acceptable, during the Cold War, for the East Berlin police to cross into West Berlin and seize anyone on the other side who might have escaped? And if those guards somehow grabbed a few thousand innocent West Berliners, would not a blind eye to their enslavement have been infinitely more practical than risking war with East Germany—or Russia? Similar grotesque rationalizations existed in France during World War II when the German-collaborating Vichy government decided that turning over its French Jews to Germany was a more practical choice than inviting total German occupation and possible harsh reprisals.

And this academic slight was followed by tedious distinctions between books suited for a “general audience” and those for an “academic audience,” noting whether the author was an “academic writer” or a “nonacademic” one. A second list, entitled “The Leading Myths of the War,” included the United States’ victory as a myth! Now this “British won” opinion is of recent extraction. It began 150 years after the war ended, as did an equally convoluted conclusion that the war was a draw. It seems that the British won because the Americans failed to conquer Canada; or the Canadians won, but since there was no Canada, by default that made the British winners.

His strike would be so swift that the gullible Americans, not realizing what he was up to, would have no time to prepare a defense; and once France was firmly established in New Orleans, what American force would be able to drive a 10,000-man French army from its fortified positions? Would New Englanders, southerners, and westerners suddenly repair their fractured loyalties to expend their blood and wealth in an attempt to drive him out? French-speaking New Orleanians and Cajun country folks would most likely embrace him, and it was hard to see fishermen and whalers from the Northeast running to expel a formidable army entrenched a thousand miles away.

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