Review

The American Revelation: Ten Ideals That Shaped Our Country From The Puritans to the Cold War

by Neil Baldwin



Americans love political discussion and debate. From colonial days
when pamphlets and town meetings were the mechanism of discourse,
to modern times when talk radio and political blogs stimulate
discussion of important public issues, robust political debate is a
crucial element of American life. For many, an important element of
current debate centers on the historical perspective. From
documents and speeches such as The Federalist Papers, George
Washington's farewell address and Lincoln's second inaugural
address, great respect is often given to the intellectual
contributions of America's founding fathers. It is a rare day when
the opinion pages of major print media or television commentators
do not make reference to the written word of bygone
centuries.


THE AMERICAN REVELATION: Ten Ideals That Shaped Our Country From
the Puritans to the Cold War, by Neil Baldwin, is both a
thought-provoking and thoughtful narrative of important examples of
ideas that have shaped American thought, life, and our unique
American identity. The ideas selected by the author pre-date the
founding of the United States as a nation and traverse nearly four
centuries of American life. By the author's own admission, they are
not intended to be exhaustive. Rather, they are a selection, a few
out of many ideas, concepts and phrases of American history and how
they came to be part of the American lexicon.


Baldwin's list is neither political nor polemic. His first
selection, "City on a Hill," the remarks of John Winthrop to the
Massachusetts Bay Colonists in 1630, has been quoted by proponents
of diverse political philosophies --- President Ronald Reagan and
Governor Mario Cuomo, to name just two. Baldwin's discussion of The
Marshall Plan, the American effort to rebuild a shattered European
continent after World War II, is probably the finest example in
American history of truly bi-partisan foreign policy in action. In
each chapter Baldwin provides the reader with a brief biographical
note of the author of an important contribution to American
thought, the times in which the author lived, and the impact of the
ideas on the American nation. In a nation that still fiercely
debates the words and deeds of its founding fathers, it is
important to stimulate debate about American values throughout the
life of our country in order to understand what those values truly
are.


It is Neil Baldwin's belief that our nation is currently suffering
the consequences of a deeply divisive political debate. The pulse
of 21st century America, he writes, "often sounds as if it is
emanating from two separate heartbeats." Americans need to turn to
core beliefs that can provide a unifying focus for our thoughts and
our lives. There have been times in the life of our nation when
such unifying thoughts were presented to the nation. They may have
been, in the words of Thomas Paine, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Henry
George, Jane Adams, or any of the ten sculptors of American thought
whose words serve as the foundation of THE AMERICAN REVELATION. The
perilous times in which we live demand an idealism that leads to a
new definition of patriotism and national character. That critical
goal begins with one citizen and one reader at a time.


   








Reviewed by Stuart Shiffman on December 22, 2010

The American Revelation: Ten Ideals That Shaped Our Country From The Puritans to the Cold War
by Neil Baldwin

  • Publication Date: May 1, 2005
  • Genres: History, Nonfiction
  • Hardcover: 272 pages
  • Publisher: St. Martin's Press
  • ISBN-10: 0312325436
  • ISBN-13: 9780312325435