Tuesday, July 04, 2006

Happy fourth of July

Happy 4th everyone, or at least all Americans. What better way to celebrate than reading books on American history? I am reading two at the moment.

The first is A Nation Among Nations. The thesis is that American history is best understood in terms of global history. So colonization has to be studied in terms of the opening of the oceans. The Civil War in terms of the many movements for freedom in the period, such as the revolutions of 1848, and so on. Unlike most histories, this one is reasonably short as well. If I have a complaint, it is that academic speak occasionally creeps into the text, but the book is aimed at the general reader, so the author keeps it to a minimum.

The second is Freedom Just Around the Corner by Walter McDougall. I was attracted to this one because I love the author and because he notes he was hoping to avoid the extreme negative history of Howard Zinn and the extreme positive of Paul Johnson. McDougall's thesis is that the US culture is one of hustling, in both the positive and negative sense. People are always trying to figure out the angles, whether to make or swindle a buck. Anyway, I just started it, so I can't say much more.

No comments: