What Is America?

What Is America?

A Short History of the New World Order

Book - 2008
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From the award-winning, #1 bestselling author of A Short History of Progress comes another surprising, frightening and essential book. The USA is now the world's lone superpower, whose deeds could make or break this century. For better and worse, America has Americanized the world. How did a marginal frontier society, in a mere two centuries, become the de facto ruler of the world? Why do America's great achievements in democracy, prosperity and civil rights now seem threatened by forces within itself? Brimming with insight into history and human behaviour, and written in Wright's captivating style, What Is America? shows how this came to pass; how the United States, which regards itself as the most modern country on earth, is also deeply archaic, a stronghold not only of religious fundamentalism but of modern beliefs in limitless progress and a universal mission that have fallen under suspicion elsewhere in the west, a rethinking driven by two World Wars and the reckless looting of our planet. A fresh, passionate look at the past and future of the world's most powerful nation, What Is America? will reframe the debate about our neighbour and ourselves.
Publisher: Toronto : A. A. Knopf Canada, c2008.
ISBN: 9780676979824
Characteristics: 368 p. ;,22 cm.


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Oct 24, 2013

What is America? --- by Ronal Wright. Wright is a historian, novelist and essayist. His works look at the connections between the past and the present, the roles of powerful people, capitalists and politicians on their societies. "What is America?" has been a number one bestseller. To understand America, Wright takes the long view, all the way back to the pre-Columbian and then proceeds to skewer America on its own past that have given rise to her myths: the savage Indian; the noble Pilgrim; the favour of being God’s chosen people; the unending frontier; Manifest Destiny; arbiter of world peace. And on and on and on. Certain elements of the reading public will nod their collective heads in recognition of the truths held by this work. Other readers won’t read this book at all or heave it through the window or into the fireplace without recognizing its truths. Wright’s work is scholarly: not founded on self delusion but firmly based on demonstrative fact: there are almost 100 pages of notes and commentary; over twenty pages of bibliography. Wright’s “What is America?” is easy to read. The words almost flow across the page: his style is almost poetic. He writes with elegant clarity and conviction. At times, this book almost reads like a novel: there is plot; there are protagonists: villains and heroes; there is a rise to climax; only the happy ending is not there. Will there be a happy ending? Or not? “What is America?” is so compelling it is difficult to put down. He never makes a claim to historical fact without support: his book is a romp through the myth of America rather this book is a sad review of self delusion.

sit_walk Aug 12, 2011

Interesting title and well worth reading if you're interested in international politics and American history. At the same time, if you've read any Howard Zinn or Naomi Klein, you may find that Wright revisits or summarizes many of those authors' same arguments.

Dec 02, 2010

With respect: did we read the same book? This is a very well researched encapsulation of how the United States evolved into the greatest empire in decline today. Left and/or Right does not factor in the facts; these events happened and there are records - countless - that support Mr. Wright's position. The U.S. has gorged itself on the bounty of the America's, but like the weasel in the chicken coop, will continue to gorge until there is nothing left. Open your eyes: the U.S. is not the end all and be all of the planet. That Canada is so firmly clasped to this rotting teat ensures we are doomed to sink with it into the ashes of history.

Apr 02, 2009

some interesting thoughts, but more a biased opinion of the US that a rational analysis of this powerful and complex nation, clearly left of center view, too much focus on the native American demise

Mar 21, 2009

Definitely a Liberal biased opinion. I agree with the other comment about the overemphasis on the takeover of the Native American but it is essential to explain the details in order to make the book's main point - that American ascendancy is the product of abundant resources and aggressive expansion policy and archaic belief systems.
Not enough credit is given for the fact the aggression was also a response to global competition. It's too easy to simply point to The EU as a model to try and shame the US.
A very interesting read for the historical perspective.

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