The author of American Nations examines the history of and solutions to the key American question: how best to reconcile individual liberty with the maintenance of a free societyThe struggle between individual rights and the good of the community as a whole has been the basis of nearly every major disagreement in our history, from the debates at the Constitutional Convention and in the run up to the Civil War to the fights surrounding the agendas of the Federalists, the Progressives, the New Dealers, the civil rights movement, and the Tea Party. In American Character, Colin Woodard traces these two key strands in American politics through the four centuries of the nation's existence, from the first colonies through the Gilded Age, Great Depression and the present day, and he explores how different regions of the country have successfully or disastrously accommodated them. The independent streak found its most pernicious form in the antebellum South but was balanced in the Gilded Age by communitarian reform efforts; the New Deal was an example of a successful coalition between communitarian-minded Eastern elites and Southerners. Woodard argues that maintaining a liberal democracy, a society where mass human freedom is possible, requires finding a balance between protecting individual liberty and nurturing a free society. Going to either libertarian or collectivist extremes results in tyranny. But where does the "sweet spot" lie in the United States, a federation of disparate regional cultures that have always strongly disagreed on these issues? Woodard leads readers on a riveting and revealing journey through four centuries of struggle, experimentation, successes and failures to provide an answer. His historically informed and pragmatic suggestions on how to achieve this balance and break the nation's political deadlock will be of interest to anyone who cares about the current American predicament--political, ideological, and sociological.
Pauline Maier shows us the Declaration as both the defining statement of our national identity and the moral standard by which we live as a nation. It is truly "American Scripture," and Maier tells us how it came to be -- from the Declaration's birth in the hard and tortuous struggle by which Americans arrived at Independence to the ways in which, in the nineteenth century, the document itself became sanctified.Maier describes the transformation of the Second Continental Congress into a national government, unlike anything that preceded or followed it, and with more authority than the colonists would ever have conceded to the British Parliament; the great difficulty in making the decision for Independence; the influence of Paine's Common Sense, which shifted the terms of debate; and the political maneuvers that allowed Congress to make the momentous decision. In Maier's hands, the Declaration of Independence is brought close to us. She lets us hear the voice of the people as revealed in the other "declarations" of 1776: the local resolutions -- most of which have gone unnoticed over the past two centuries -- that explained, advocated, and justified Independence and undergirded Congress's work. Detective-like, she discloses the origins of key ideas and phrases in the Declaration and unravels the complex story of its drafting and of the group-editing job which angered Thomas Jefferson. Maier also reveals what happened to the Declaration after the signing and celebration: how it was largely forgotten and then revived to buttress political arguments of the nineteenth century; and, most important, how Abraham Lincoln ensured its persistence as a living force in American society. Finally, she shows how by the very act of venerating the Declaration as we do -- by holding it as sacrosanct, akin to holy writ -- we may actually be betraying its purpose and its power.
In the 1990s, democracy and market freedom are often discussed as though they were synonymous or interchangeable. What the experience of workers in the United States actually reveals is that as government became more democratic, what it could do to shape daily life became more restricted. This original and significant work examines the relationship between workers and government by focusing not on the legal regulations of unions and strikes, but on popular struggles for citizens' rights. The extent and failures of workers' efforts to exercise power through political parties provide insights from the nineteenth century to guide our thinking about the twenty-first.
The #1 New York Times bestseller that charts America's dangerous drift into a state of perpetual war.
"One of my favorite ideas is, never to keep an unnecessary soldier," Thomas Jefferson wrote in 1792. Neither Jefferson nor the other Found-ers could ever have envisioned the modern national security state, with its tens of thousands of "privateers"; its bloated Department of Homeland Security; its rust-ing nuclear weapons, ill-maintained and difficult to dismantle; and its strange fascination with an unproven counterinsurgency doctrine.
Written with bracing wit and intelligence, Rachel Maddow's "Drift "argues that we've drifted away from America's original ideals and become a nation weirdly at peace with perpetual war, with all the financial and human costs that entails. To understand how we've arrived at such a dangerous place, Maddow takes us from the Vietnam War to today's war in Afghanistan, along the way exploring the disturbing rise of executive authority, the gradual outsourcing of our war-making capabilities to private companies, the plummeting percentage of American families whose children fight our constant wars for us, and even the changing fortunes of G.I. Joe. She offers up a fresh, unsparing appraisal of Reagan's radical presidency. Ultimately, she shows us just how much we stand to lose by allowing the priorities of the national security state to overpower our political discourse.
Sensible yet provocative, dead serious yet seri-ously funny, "Drift "will reinvigorate a "loud and jangly" political debate about how, when, and where to apply America's strength and power--and who gets to make those decisions.
If Abraham Lincoln was known as the Great Emancipator, he was also the only president to suspend the writ of habeas corpus. Indeed, Lincoln's record on the Constitution and individual rights has fueled a century of debate, from charges that Democrats were singled out for harrassment to Gore Vidal's depiction of Lincoln as an "absolute dictator." Now, in The Fate of Liberty, one of America's leading authorities on Lincoln wades straight into this controversy, showing just who was jailed and why, even as he explores the whole range of Lincoln's constitutional policies.
Mark Neely depicts Lincoln's suspension of habeas corpus as a well-intentioned attempt to deal with a floodtide of unforeseen events: the threat to Washington as Maryland flirted with secession, distintegrating public order in the border states, corruption among military contractors, the occupation of hostile Confederate territory, contraband trade with the South, and the outcry against the first draft in U.S. history. Drawing upon letters from prisoners, records of military courts and federal prisons, memoirs, and federal archives, he paints a vivid picture of how Lincoln responded to these problems, how his policies were actually executed, and the virulent political debates that followed. Lincoln emerges from this account with this legendary statesmanship intact--mindful of political realities and prone to temper the sentences of military courts, concerned not with persecuting his opponents but with prosecuting the war efficiently. In addition, Neely explores the abuses of power under the regime of martial law: the routine torture of suspected deserters, widespread antisemitism among Union generals and officials, the common practice of seizing civilian hostages. He finds that though the system of military justice was flawed, it suffered less from merciless zeal, or political partisanship, than from inefficiency and the friction and complexities of modern war.
Drawing on a deep understanding of this unique period, Neely takes a comprehensive look at the issues of civil liberties during Lincoln's administration, placing them firmly in the political context of the time. Written with keen insight and an intimate grasp of the original sources, The Fate of Liberty offers a vivid picture of the crises and chaos of a nation at war with itself, changing our understanding of this president and his most controversial policies.
Cause for jubilation: At last, one of America's wisest and most necessary voices has distilled what he knows about politics, broadly speaking, into one magnificent volume.
Imagine if the Rolling Stones were just now releasing its first greatest hits album, and you'll have some idea of how long overdue, and highly anticipated, "Politics" is. Here are Hendrik Hertzberg's most significant and hilarious and devastating and infuriating dispatches from the American scene-a scene he has chronicled for four decades with an uncanny blend of moral seriousness, high spirits, and perfect rhetorical pitch. "Politics" is at once the story of American life from LBJ to GWB and a testament to the power of the written word in the right hands. In those hands, everything seems like politics, and politics has never seemed more interesting.
Hertzberg breaks down American politics into component parts-campaigns, debates, rhetoric, the media, wars (cultural, countercultural, and real), high crimes and misdemeanors, the right, and more-and draws the choicest, most telling pieces from his body of work to illuminate each, beginning each section with a new piece of writing framing the subject at hand. Politics 101 from the master, "Politics" is also an immensely rich and entertaining mosaic of American life from the mid-1960s to the mid-2000s-a ride through recent American history with one of the most insightful and engaging guides imaginable.
The blockbuster #1 national bestseller
Bret Baier, the Chief Political Anchor for Fox News Channel and the Anchor and Executive Editor of Special Report with Bret Baier, illuminates the extraordinary yet underappreciated presidency of Dwight Eisenhower by taking readers into Ike's last days in power.
"Magnificently rendered. ... Destined to take its place as not only one of the masterworks on Eisenhower, but as one of the classics of presidential history. ... Impeccably researched, the book is nothing short of extraordinary. What a triumph "--JAY WINIK, New York Times bestselling author of April 1865 and 1944
In Three Days in January, Bret Baier masterfully casts the period between Eisenhower's now-prophetic farewell address on the evening of January 17, 1961, and Kennedy's inauguration on the afternoon of January 20 as the closing act of one of modern America's greatest leaders--during which Eisenhower urgently sought to prepare both the country and the next president for the challenges ahead.
Those three days in January 1961, Baier shows, were the culmination of a lifetime of service that took Ike from rural Kansas to West Point, to the battlefields of World War II, and finally to the Oval Office. When he left the White House, Dwight Eisenhower had done more than perhaps any other modern American to set the nation, in his words, "on our charted course toward permanent peace and human betterment."
On January 17, Eisenhower spoke to the nation in one of the most remarkable farewell speeches in U.S. history. Ike looked to the future, warning Americans against the dangers of elevating partisanship above national interest, excessive government budgets (particularly deficit spending), the expansion of the military-industrial complex, and the creeping political power of special interests. Seeking to ready a new generation for power, Eisenhower intensely advised the forty-three-year-old Kennedy before the inauguration.
Baier also reveals how Eisenhower's two terms changed America forever for the better, and demonstrates how today Ike offers us the model of principled leadership that polls say is so missing in politics. Three Days in January forever makes clear that Eisenhower, an often forgotten giant of U.S. history, still offers vital lessons for our own time and stands as a lasting example of political leadership at its most effective and honorable.
"Either the Constitution means what it says, or it doesn't."
America's founding fathers saw freedom as a part of our nature to be protected--not to be usurped by the federal government--and so enshrined separation of powers and guarantees of freedom in the Constitution and the Bill of Rights. But a little over a hundred years after America's founding, those God-given rights were laid siege by two presidents caring more about the advancement of progressive, redistributionist ideology than the principles on which America was founded.
Theodore and Woodrow is Judge Andrew P. Napolitano's shocking historical account of how a Republican and a Democratic president oversaw the greatest shift in power in American history, from a land built on the belief that authority should be left to the individuals and the states to a bloated, far-reaching federal bureaucracy, continuing to grow and consume power each day.
With lessons rooted in history, Judge Napolitano shows the intellectually arrogant, anti-personal freedom, even racist progressive philosophy driving these men to poison the American system of government.
And Americans still pay for their legacy--in the federal income, in state-prescribed compulsory education, in the Federal Reserve, in perpetual wars, and in the constant encroachment of a government that coddles special interests and discourages true competition in the marketplace.
With his attention to detail, deep constitutional knowledge, and unwavering adherence to truth telling, Judge Napolitano moves through the history of these men and their times in office to show how American values and the Constitution were sadly set aside, leaving personal freedom as a shadow of its former self, in the grip of an insidious, Nanny state, progressive ideology.