Our American Story

Pub Date:   |   Archive Date: 25 Jun 2019

Member Reviews

If you want a book about whether people with disparate backgrounds in the great land of ours can ever be united, this volume will not answer that questions. If, however, you desire an esoteric examination of the rhetoric used by Americans to talk about the unifying or disunifying nature of our country, then this is exactly what you are seeking. I went in to this looking for the former and discovered the latter, which was less compelling to me.
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OUR AMERICAN STORY is edited by Joshua A. Claybourn and subtitled "The Search for a Shared National Narrative."  This collection of essays includes contributions from writers like Yale Professor David W. Blight, former Senator John C. Danforth, and representatives from think tanks such as Rand Corporation and the Cato Institute.  Each is addressing Claybourn's questions about "the unifying American story" so the comments tend to be repetitive in places (e.g., about adherence to a creed versus tribalism or references to the motto of e pluribus unum). I did especially appreciate Claybourn's introduction where he said: "in a civic society immersed in echo chambers, one may be tempted to read only those contributions that affirm existing views. Avoid that temptation; instead, absorb and engage each approach."  This seems particularly critical at a time when our headlines are full of news about the Nike decision to recall its sneaker with the Betsy Ross flag due to protests and the Arizona governor's threat to pull incentives for a new plant in retaliation. Sadly, this all tends to support Claybourn's contention that "trust in institutions – government, business, the media, and higher education – continues to erode. Cultural warfare further splits our society, exposing fundamental differences about our views of justice and human nature."

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