What Is America?

What Is America?

A Short History of the New World Order

Book - 2008
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Baker & Taylor
Discusses the driving forces of conquest and expansion on the modern American political and economic climate, and how modern society is at odds with "New World" forces including religious extremism, militarism, and a belief in endless progress.

Perseus Publishing
Following his international bestseller, A Short History of Progress, Ronald Wright provokes once again, as he explores the oldest American myth: the endless frontier

In the six years since 9/11, as the bush regime has squandered domestic solidarity and international goodwill, many of the archetypes and ideals with which we’ve traditionally framed the American enterprise now seem endangered, even hollow. This raises the question, has America ever been what it thinks it is? What Is America? goes to the heart of that inquiry. Ranging with dazzling expertise through anthropology, history, and literature, Wright reconfigures our self-perception, arguing that the ?essence” of America can be traced to the foundations of our history-literally to the collision of worlds that began in 1492, as one civilization subsumed another-and exploring how these currents continue to shape our world.

& Taylor

The country's origins and diverse history, the self-perceptions and beliefs of what this country was, is, and has become as well as its standing in the world are examined and discussed in relation to current events and international affairs.

Publisher: [Cambridge, MA] : Da Capo Press, 2008
Edition: 1st Da Capo Press ed
ISBN: 9780786720972
Characteristics: 368 p. ; 22 cm


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🇺🇸 This book should be taught in the schools, as it punctures all the myths of American manifest destiny, religiosity, and right-wing ideology. Working from historical records and analysis by past authors like Tocqueville and others who were present at the creation, he lays out how the Indians were really subject to extermination or subjugation. A good antidote to the cliches of movies, Fox News, and Breitbart.

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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