Monday, October 31, 2016

Washington Monthly Reviews American Character

Just in time for the 2016 election, Washington Monthly has a review of my recent book, American Character: A History of the Epic Struggle Between Individual Liberty and the Common Good, the sequel to American Nations, in their new issue.

Novelist and journalist Jennifer Miller is the reviewer and focuses on how hyper-charged everything in this history seems in the context of the late phase of this insane election cycle. Of course, the book was finished in the late Spring of 2015 -- when Donald Trump was being discounted as a freak sideshow and nobody was expecting a little known Social Democrat from Vermont to give the Democratic frontrunner a run for the money -- which shows just how much more vitriolic our public discourse has gotten in little over a year.

This results in Miller writing this observation, ending with my favorite line of any review so far: "Even Woodard's discussion of evolutionary biology feels political," she notes of a passage countering the idea that humans' are natural state is to be individuals operating in a state of anarchy. "'Our evolutionary ancestors, Homo erectus, were using fire a million years ago, a game-changing innovation that led them to live in group campsites [and] share tasks responsibilities, and resources,' [Woodard writes.] And yet given the virulence of today's small-government evangelists and Ayn Rand individualists, it's difficult not to wonder: Is this how far back we need to go to make a case for the collective? To fire?"

Indeed, if you're to counter a ideology going back to Thomas Hobbes' musings on the origins of government, you do!

Thanks to Miller and the Monthly for reviewing the book.

No comments:

Post a Comment