Review: A Patriot's History of the United States
BY : Jeff Head

June 2005

By: Jeff Head, June 11, 2005

Review: "A Patriot's History of the United States"

Larry Schweikart and Michael Allen have written a history of the United States that is tremendously broad in scope, and monumental in its approach in our modern times. It begins with Christopher Columbus and proceeds through to current events, including 9-11 and its aftermath, the War on Terror and the fights in Afghanistan and Iraq as well as the re-election of George W. Bush.. The work covers over 510 years of history in 825 pages. There are over 70 pages of footnotes at the end of the book, detailing critical historical conditions and facts from each of the twenty-two chapters.

The best introduction to a review of this work that I could give regarding its approach the authors took, is from the mouths of the authors themselves in their own introduction:

"Is America's past a tale of racism, sexism, and bigotry? Is it the story of the conquest and rape of a continent? Is U.S. history the story of white slave owners who perverted the electoral process for their own interests? Did America start with Columbus's killing all the Indians, leap to Jim Crow laws and Rockefeller crushing the workers , then finally save itself with Franklin Roosevelt’s New Deal? The answers, of course, are no, no, no, and NO.

"One might never know this, however, by looking at almost any mainstream U.S. history textbook. Having taught American history in one form or another for close to sixty years between us, we are aware that, unfortunately, many students are berated with tales of the Founders as self-interested politicians and slave-holders, of the icons of American industry as robber-barons, oppressors, and of every American foreign policy initiative as imperialistic and insensitive. At least Howard Zinn's, A People's History of the United States, honestly represents its Marxist biases in the title!

"What is most amazing and refreshing is that the past usually speaks for itself. The evidence is their for telling the great story of the American past honestly-with flaws, absolutely; with shortcomings, most definitely. But we think that an honest evaluation of the history of the United States must begin and end with the recognition that, compared to any other nation, America's past is a bright and shining light. America was, and is, the city on a hill, the fountain of hope, the beacon of liberty. We utterly reject "My country right or wrong"- what scholar wouldn't? But in the last thirty years, academics have taken an equally destructive approach, "My country always wrong!" We reject that too.

"Instead, we remain convinced that if the story of America's past is told fairly, the results cannot be anything but a deepened patriotism, a sense of awe at the obstacles overcome, the passion invested, the blood and tears spilled, and the nation that was built."
The authors then proceed to do just that, to show that despite the errors, mistakes, and shortcomings along the way, the telling of American history ends up being a story of unequaled faith, character, virtue, and moral clarity. They demonstrate how through the faith and goodness of most of the principle characters involved, as well as the majority of the settlers, colonists, and then citizens, a liberty was allowed to develop that was based on moral constraint and founded in Christian heritage. That liberty then allowed America to become the envy of the world. Not due to arrogance, selfishness or shortsightedness, though there was some of that at times, but due to the intrinsic foundational moral principles that those people based their lives upon which produced and then maintained that freedom and that prosperity.

It is a marvelous work that I cannot recommend highly enough. Every student of American history, every parent wanting their child to understand what truly has made this nation great, every home schooling parent should place this book in their library and make it readily available to their children. Better yet, they should sit down and read it together with them.

Now, you may find that because of the scope of the work that there are some particular details which you are personally aware of in history that do not get the attention you would prefer. I found this so with the phenomenal story of George Rogers Clark, older brother to the great explorer, William Clark of the famed Lewis and Clark expedition. George Rogers Clark, with a small band of less than 200 soldiers, during the Revolutionary War defeated and brought under American control, the entirety of the Northwest Territory at the time. A land mass that doubled the size of the United States. He did it through stratagem and through miraculous means that are a marvel to this day...and he did it without losing a man in combat. Because of his exploits, entire Indian nations at the time, who otherwise could have posed significant issue to the western expansion of America, and to the defeat of the British in the west, sued for peace with this great man, his very small band of soldiers, and the fledgling nation they represented. That his story was not covered was a disappointment to me because I had anticipated it. But, on the other hand, it gave me the opportunity to teach my youngest son about that particular aspect of the revolutionary war as we read the magnificent coverage of other more notable aspects of the revolution, and, which I might add, were in fact more germane to the ultimate victory over the British.

In a work of this scope, to pay that much attention to every detail would result in a work of ten or twelve volumes, which was not the author's aim. Through not becoming distracted, they accomplish their aim, as stated in the introduction, marvelously throughout the book, paying great heed to the pivotal points in history and the underlying political, cultural, and moral issues all along the way that contributed to them.

For remaining true to this, and remaining true to the actual conditions and intent of those of whom they write, the authors deserve our most sincere congratulations and their own scholarly notoriety. For having the courage and clarity to show how those events and those people used their faith, their determination, and their integrity and commitment to set the foundation for, craft, build, and then maintain and defend American liberty (including a true rendition of things like the Vietnam War and why it turned out the way it did) and its accompanying life style and prosperity, the authors deserve our undying respect and gratitude.

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