A Century Turns: New Hopes, New Fears, by William Bennett. Thomas Nelson.
I am reviewing the book as a participant in the publisher’s blogger review program. This is my first venture into the history genre, generally opting for theology, culture, etc.
The book is extremely well written, holding one’s attention throughout. Having lived through the era, it served well in terms of maintaining a sense of chronology. I have not read the previous two volumes, but do intend to add them to my library given the accuracy of their chronology.
Born in a Democratic state (MN) and initially nursed at that udder, the book was a helpful reminder of the numerous issues, incidents, promises and political personalities which drove me from my roots. (Another reason the first two volumes will be helpful!)
My initial take on the book is it is simply a condensed re-telling of the neocon propaganda promulgated during the time frame chronicled. Mr. Bennett is a significant figure in that circle (made readily apparent throughout the narrative in the endnotes—in fact, I began to wonder just who was being promoted?).
The glossing over of the administration’s errors (WMD, our government’s involvement in Iraq’s use of chemical weapons against the Kurds, our encouragement of Iraq’s war against Iran after our humiliation in the hostage incident, the ad hominem attack on Joe Wilson and the Valerie Plame affair, etc…the list goes on!) was simply a rehash of what I observed as those particular events unfolded.
FWIW, IMHO, Mr. Bennett confuses Nationalism and Patriotism. But, I would defend to the death his right to his opinion. My suspicion being, he would not hold the same conviction, given his observation relative to the Dixie Chicks. We seem to be in a new era where dissenting opinion is immediately categorized as either hate speech or unpatriotic.
Yet, I would recommend one buy the book.
Then read something by Mark Twain relative to our nation’s demonstrable aspirations following the Spanish-American War up to our current AfPak adventure.
One final surprise, but given Mr. Bennett’s neocon persuasion and commitment to large government I should not have been, is the complete absence of any reference to the role of Ron Paul in the 2008 debates! Telling, to be sure.