Sunday, December 30, 2012

The American Spirit Book Review by ChristineMM

Title: The American Spirit: Celebrating the Virtues and Values That Make Us Great
Authors: Edwin Feulner and Brian Tracy
Publication: Thomas Nelson, 2012
Genre: Nonfiction, Politics

My Star Rating: 5 Stars out of 5 = I Love It

Summary Statement: Intelligent, Persuasive Writing & Philosophical Musings Through the A Conservative Christian Lens

When I ordered the book I interpreted the marketing blurb to indicate this book would be a discussion of America’s history to tell what made this country great. I didn’t research the authors and assumed it would be a non-political book. Upon diving into the book I realized that Dr. Feulner was the President of The Heritage Foundation (a very conservative group). The second realization I had is this is not a book of only discussion of old history but is a discussion of challenges that faced America in the past and some situations at present and how and what the issues are when viewed through the conservative lens. Thirdly this book holds a Christian worldview (hence the reason why a Christian publisher: Thomas Nelson, published the book).

Thus this book is almost a credo for conservatives: framing a virtue or topic that is a foundation of life in America and discussing real life issues that either corrupted or supported that virtue, followed by what it will take to keep things the same or what needs to be done to get back on track. (When I re-read the marketing blurb I saw that there was nothing deceptive about it, I had just interpreted it incorrectly for some reason.)

There are twenty topics, virtues (like courage) or topics (like money and taxes or education) with each representing one chapter. After framing the character trait itself in general terms, examples from history are given. For example the history on honesty starts with an example about Clarence Thomas, leads to Richard Nixon then to the Monica Lewinsky issue with President Bill Clinton, then goes on from there with more examples. The authors use quotes and excerpts in every chapter to illustrate opinions of other people: this is not just a book of their own opinions, although the conservative viewpoint is what is represented as the one right and best way in the end. In the chapter on honesty, a former American communist, Whittaker Chambers, is said to have “come to his senses” and a long quote is shared telling how wrong he felt he was to have formerly held communist beliefs. It goes on to tell how Americans are forgiving when people, sports teams, or corporations fail to be honest and realize their error and seek forgiveness. The chapter ends by wrapping up how truth is multi-faceted and applies to personal truth, political truth, and spiritual truth “each is as important as the other and all are important threads in our country”. Each chapter follows this formula.

The twenty virtues or topics examined in this book are: patriotism, freedom, individuality, responsibility, optimism, foresight, good citizenship, honesty, something for nothing, faith, the law, tolerance and open-mindedness, idealistic realism, pragmatism, problem solving, generosity, capitalism, education, money and taxes and courage.

If you want to read intelligent and persuasive writing of philosophical musings on topics that challenge Americans today as represented through the conservative Christian lens, this is a book you would like to read. Moderates, independents, and liberals who want to hear the conservative Christian view are certainly welcome to read it, but obviously may not agree with some, much, or all of it. As a person who values hearing opposing views and who enjoys pondering complex issues I was open to reading this book and would like to think that others who like to do the same would find this book food for thought.

I was thinking that liberals could take this book’s format and its topics and rewrite it giving their own examples and reasons why doing things in a different (liberal) way would help America be a superior country. Reading that version and comparing and contrasting it with The American Spirit would be an interesting exercise!

Disclosure: I received one copy of this book from's Vine program for the purpose of reviewing it on the site. I was not paid to write the review or to blog it, nor was I under obligation to review it favorably.

No comments: