Sunday, February 19, 2017

Book Recommendations

Who Are We?: The Challenges to America's National Identity. By Samuel P. Huntington
Though a few years old, this is an important and interesting book. It is a bit of a heavy read, requiring focus, because it's by a Harvard Academic, but it is well researched and documented, with a plethora of data and quotes. The book is comprehensive discussion of how the American identity was shaped, how recent events like the unprecedented immigration of millions who do not seek to join the existing culture and how current trends may play out in the future, it should be of interest to every thoughtful American, of whatever political persuasion, who is concerned about the future. Some quotes to provoke your interest: "...the proportion of Christians in America has remained relatively constant. In three surveys between 1989 and 1996, between 84% and 88% of Americans said they were Christians. The proportion of Christians in American rivals or exceeds the proportion of Jews in Israel, of Muslims in Egypt, of Hindus in India, and of Orthodox believers in Russia." P99. "Americanization, Justice Louis Brandeis declared in 1919, meant that the immigrant 'adopts the clothes, the manners, and the customs generally prevailing here...substitutes for his mother tongue the English language,' insures that 'his interests and affections have become deeply rooted here.'...When he has done all this he will have 'the national consciousness of an American.'" P131 "'Classifications and distinctions based on race or color,' the leading black attorney, Thurgood Marshall argued in 1948, 'have no moral of legal authority in our society.'" P147. "23% of Hispanic immigrants were citizens, compared to 69% of non-Hispanic immigrants." P239 "Between 1994 and 1995, applications for citizenship increased by over 75%.... ...the result of two factors.... First... about 3,000,000 illegal immigrants became eligible for naturalization in 1994. ... Second, the vulnerability of government benefits available for aliens became visible in 1994 with California's proposition 187 and the debate leading up to Congresses passage of the Welfare Reform and Control Act of 1996. (I'd add "under Bill Clinton!") These developments threatened to open up a huge gap between the economic benefits available to citizens and non-citizens." P218 "An analysis of welfare use in 2001 by immigrants from a dozen regions and countries showed Mexican immigrant households ranking first, with 34.1% using welfare, compared to 22.7% of all immigrant households, and 14.6% of native American households." p236

Valiant Ambition: George Washington, Benedict Arnold, and the Fate of the American Revolution by Nathaniel Philbrick

Though I have been a Revolutionary war buff since my early teens, soon 55 years ago, I gained both new knowledge and new insights from this book. A Christmas gift from my brother (Thanks Tom) it presents the well-known story of Benedict Arnold's treason in a different light, arguing that it was a unifying force that pulled Americans together to finish the revolution and create a united country. I knew that Arnold had been essential to final victory due to his service at Saratoga. This suggests his betrayal, loathsome as it was, preformed inadvertently a more important service for the inchoate nation. Such are the great ironies of history. There was also much detail and anecdotal stories that I was unaware of. I highly recommend this excellent history.

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