Catalogue


The idea of America : reflections on the birth of the United States /
Gordon S. Wood.
imprint
New York : Penguin Press, 2011.
description
385 p.
ISBN
9781594202902
format(s)
Book
Holdings
More Details
imprint
New York : Penguin Press, 2011.
isbn
9781594202902
contents note
Rhetoric and reality in the American Revolution -- The legacy of Rome in the American Revolution -- Conspiracy and the paranoid style: causality and deceit in the eighteenth century -- Interests and disinterestedness in the making of the Constitution -- The origins of American Constitutionalism -- The making of American democracy -- The radicalism of Thomas Jefferson and Thomas Paine considered -- Monarchism and republicanism in early America -- Illusions of power in the awkward era of federalism -- The American enlightenment -- A history of rights in early America -- Conclusion : the American revolutionary tradition, or why America wants to spread democracy around the world.
catalogue key
7613150
 
Includes bibliographical references and index.
A Look Inside
Full Text Reviews
Appeared in Library Journal on 2011-04-01:
Wood (Alva O. Way University Professor, Brown Univ.; The Radicalism of the American Revolution) has long pronounced the American Revolution to be the transformative event in U.S. history, one to which we continually return to "refresh and reaffirm our nationhood." Standing above the stark economic determinism of Progressive Era historians (e.g., Charles Beard) and the ideological determinist school characterized by Bernard Bailyn, Wood has devoted his prolific career to constructing a historical interpretation that combines all aspects of the American Revolution into a viable synthesis. Whether discussing the foundations of the American Constitution, the Revolutionary mentality, or the birth of modern American politics, these previously published essays and lectures represent the incredible range of this eminent scholar's contributions to the historiography of the Revolutionary era. Wood's introduction and conclusion encapsulate his themes, while his brief afterwords to each chapter note the evolution of his thought. VERDICT Intellectually expansive and elegantly woven, Wood's writings are the closest thing we have to an elegant mediation between today's readers and the founding generation. Required reading for Revolutionary War enthusiasts on all levels.-Brian Odom, Pelham P.L., AL (c) Copyright 2011. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
Appeared in Publishers Weekly on 2011-02-21:
Pulitzer Prize-winning historian Wood challenges the popular view that the war for American independence was fought for practical and economic reasons, like unfair taxation. In this exceptional collection of essays (some previously published and others originating as lectures) he argues brilliantly to the contrary, that the Revolution was indeed fought over principles, such as liberty, republicanism, and equality. As he points out, Americans believed they alone had the virtues republicanism requires (such as simplicity and egalitarianism) and thus were supportive but skeptical of revolutions in France and Latin America. When joined to Protestant millennialism, Americans grew to believe that they were God's chosen people, with a mission to lead the world toward liberty and republican government, a view that Wood uses to explain America's continued attempts to create republics in places like Iraq and Afghanistan. This is a remarkable study of the key chapter of American history and its ongoing influence on American character. (May) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
Reviews
Review Quotes
"Mr. Wood is the premier student of the Founding Era." - Wall Street Journal "Gordon S. Wood is more than an American historian. He is almost an American institution. Wood has done more than anyone to make the era of the Revolution and early Republic into one of the liveliest periods in American history." - The New York Times Book Review "When Gordon Wood says anything about America, people listen. Especially when he talks about the lessons of history, as he has for more than half a century now." - Providence Journal "Exceptional... a remarkable study of the key chapter of American history and its ongoing influence on American character." - Publishers Weekly (starred review) "Cogent, beautifully written essays... A superb collection." - Booklist (starred review) "It's difficult to conjure another writer so at home in the period, so prepared to translate its brilliant strangeness for a modern audience. Sound, agenda-free analysis, gracefully presented." - Kirkus Reviews "Intellectually expansive and elegantly woven, Wood's writings are the closest thing we have to an elegant mediation between today's readers and the founding generation. Required reading for Revolutionary War enthusiasts on all levels." - Library Journal "[A] collection of nuanced, elegant essays. It's hard to imagine a historian better trained to write on this subject." - American Heritage
"Mr. Wood is the premier student of the Founding Era." -- Wall Street Journal "Gordon S. Wood is more than an American historian. He is almost an American institution. Wood has done more than anyone to make the era of the Revolution and early Republic into one of the liveliest periods in American history." -- The New York Times Book Review "When Gordon Wood says anything about America, people listen. Especially when he talks about the lessons of history, as he has for more than half a century now." -- Providence Journal "Exceptional... a remarkable study of the key chapter of American history and its ongoing influence on American character." -- Publishers Weekly (starred review) "Cogent, beautifully written essays... A superb collection." -- Booklist (starred review) "It's difficult to conjure another writer so at home in the period, so prepared to translate its brilliant strangeness for a modern audience. Sound, agenda-free analysis, gracefully presented." -- Kirkus Reviews "Intellectually expansive and elegantly woven, Wood's writings are the closest thing we have to an elegant mediation between today's readers and the founding generation. Required reading for Revolutionary War enthusiasts on all levels." -- Library Journal "[A] collection of nuanced, elegant essays. It's hard to imagine a historian better trained to write on this subject." -- American Heritage
"[ The Idea of America ] represent[s] the incredible range of this eminent scholar's contributions to the historiography of the Revolutionary era... Intellectually expansive and elegantly woven, Wood's writings are the closest thing we have to an elegant mediation between today's readers and the founding generation. Required reading for Revolutionary War enthusiasts on all levels." - Library Journal "It's difficult to conjure another writer so at home in the period, so prepared to translate its brilliant strangeness for a modern audience. ... Sound, agenda- free analysis, gracefully presented." - Kirkus Reviews
This item was reviewed in:
Publishers Weekly, February 2011
Booklist, April 2011
Library Journal, April 2011
Wall Street Journal, May 2011
Kirkus Reviews, July 2011
New York Times Book Review, July 2011
New York Times Full Text Review, July 2011
To find out how to look for other reviews, please see our guides to finding book reviews in the Sciences or Social Sciences and Humanities.
Summaries
Description for Library
Pulitzer Prize and Bancroft Prize winner Wood has been writing persuasively about the American Revolution for a half century. This collection of essays, which range over his entire career, reveal how the Revolution has defined us as a nation.
Main Description
A Pulitzer Prize-winning historian of the American Revolution explains why it remains the most significant event in our history. In a series of elegant and illuminating essays, Wood explores the ideological origins of the revolution--from ancient Rome to the European Enlightenment--and the founders' attempts to forge an American democracy.
Main Description
The preeminent historian of the American Revolution explains why it remains the most significant event in our history. More than almost any other nation in the world, the United States began as an idea. For this reason, Pulitzer Prize-winning historian Gordon S. Wood believes that the American Revolution is the most important event in our history, bar none. Since American identity is so fluid and not based on any universally shared heritage, we have had to continually return to our nation's founding to understand who we are. In The Idea of America , Wood reflects on the birth of American nationhood and explains why the revolution remains so essential. In a series of elegant and illuminating essays, Wood explores the ideological origins of the revolution-from ancient Rome to the European Enlightenment-and the founders' attempts to forge an American democracy. As Wood reveals, while the founders hoped to create a virtuous republic of yeoman farmers and uninterested leaders, they instead gave birth to a sprawling, licentious, and materialistic popular democracy. Wood also traces the origins of American exceptionalism to this period, revealing how the revolutionary generation, despite living in a distant, sparsely populated country, believed itself to be the most enlightened people on earth. The revolution gave Americans their messianic sense of purpose-and perhaps our continued propensity to promote democracy around the world-because the founders believed their colonial rebellion had universal significance for oppressed peoples everywhere. Yet what may seem like audacity in retrospect reflected the fact that in the eighteenth century republicanism was a truly radical ideology-as radical as Marxism would be in the nineteenth-and one that indeed inspired revolutionaries the world over. Today there exists what Wood calls a terrifying gap between us and the founders, such that it requires almost an act of imagination to fully recapture their era. Because we now take our democracy for granted, it is nearly impossible for us to appreciate how deeply the founders feared their grand experiment in liberty could evolve into monarchy or dissolve into licentiousness. Gracefully written and filled with insight, The Idea of America helps us to recapture the fears and hopes of the revolutionary generation and its attempts to translate those ideals into a working democracy.
Main Description
The preeminent historian of the American Revolution explains why it remains the most significant event in our history. More than almost any other nation in the world, the United States began as an idea. For this reason, Pulitzer Prize-winning historian Gordon S. Wood believes that the American Revolution is the most important event in our history, bar none. Since American identity is so fluid and not based on any universally shared heritage, we have had to continually return to our nation's founding to understand who we are. In The Idea of America, Wood reflects on the birth of American nationhood and explains why the revolution remains so essential. In a series of elegant and illuminating essays, Wood explores the ideological origins of the revolution-from ancient Rome to the European Enlightenment-and the founders' attempts to forge an American democracy. As Wood reveals, while the founders hoped to create a virtuous republic of yeoman farmers and uninterested leaders, they instead gave birth to a sprawling, licentious, and materialistic popular democracy. Wood also traces the origins of American exceptionalism to this period, revealing how the revolutionary generation, despite living in a distant, sparsely populated country, believed itself to be the most enlightened people on earth. The revolution gave Americans their messianic sense of purpose-and perhaps our continued propensity to promote democracy around the world-because the founders believed their colonial rebellion had universal significance for oppressed peoples everywhere. Yet what may seem like audacity in retrospect reflected the fact that in the eighteenth century republicanism was a truly radical ideology-as radical as Marxism would be in the nineteenth-and one that indeed inspired revolutionaries the world over. Today there exists what Wood calls a terrifying gap between us and the founders, such that it requires almost an act of imagination to fully recapture their era. Because we now take our democracy for granted, it is nearly impossible for us to appreciate how deeply the founders feared their grand experiment in liberty could evolve into monarchy or dissolve into licentiousness. Gracefully written and filled with insight, The Idea of America helps us to recapture the fears and hopes of the revolutionary generation and its attempts to translate those ideals into a working democracy.

This information is provided by a service that aggregates data from review sources and other sources that are often consulted by libraries, and readers. The University does not edit this information and merely includes it as a convenience for users. It does not warrant that reviews are accurate. As with any review users should approach reviews critically and where deemed necessary should consult multiple review sources. Any concerns or questions about particular reviews should be directed to the reviewer and/or publisher.

  link to old catalogue

Report a problem