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Tuesday, February 8, 2011

What's So Great About America by Dinesh D'Souza


Dinesh D'Souza
D'Souza starts What's So Great About America with a thorough indictment of America. In a 30 page chapter entitled "Why They Hate Us" he honestly and thoroughly lays out all of the arguments about why America is reviled by so many. By the end of the chapter the reader begins to wonder if there really is anything so great about America.

The balance of the book is spent answering every charge leveled in the first chapter. I have rarely read a book on contemporary politics in which I agree so thoroughly with his analyses. I may be just a high school history teacher but I do a lot of thinking about history and a lot of reading. The big ideas such as those of Locke, Rousseau and Jefferson fascinate me and I like to think about what their philosophies mean for us if implemented in the real world.

D'Souza's comments on the West being an inheritance from both Athens and Jerusalem (pp. 60-61) closely mirror a conclusion I came to myself one day when discussing Ancient Greece with a class. I guess that makes the Book of Acts the actual document that founds the West...hmmm.

I loved this quote from a friend of D'Souza that wanted to immigrate to the United States from India very badly: "I really want to live in a country where the poor people are fat." (p. 77)

D'Souza's analysis of Lincoln, slavery and the rigmarole that he went through to finally get rid of it is so brilliant that I will refer to it next time I teach it in history class. (pp. 116-8)

At no point does D'Souza deny that America needs improvement. He does not claim it is a finished product. But, he does assert that for all of its warts and imperfections it is, as Lincoln put it, "the last, best hope of Man on Earth."

The book is a bit dated, even though it is only 7 years old. The War in Iraq, the election of Barak Obama and other events came to mind as I read the book. I hope that D'Souza offers a revision with additional commentary. Perhaps discussion pages at the end, too? It comes to mind because my edition is from Penguin Books and they do that with many books.

I rate this book 5 stars out of 5.

This book can be found on Amazon.com here: What's So Great about America.

Reviewed on May 23, 2009.

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