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A Century Turns: New Fears, New Hopes--America 1988 to 2008

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  • Posted November 29, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    Not so great...unless...

    A Century Turns by William J. Bennett

    Book Description:

    "Author, historian, and educator William J. Bennett examines America's last two decades.

    Twenty years ago, John McCain was serving his second year in the Senate, and Colin Powell had just been promoted to chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. There was no Fox News Channel, no American Idol. Saddam Hussein and the Ayatollah Ruholla Khomeni ruled Iraq and Iran, respectively. George W. Bush was the fairly unnoticeable son of the then-president. If you asked someone to "email me," you would have received a blank stare, and "Amazon" was a forest in South America. Finally, 20 years ago a young man named Barack Obama was elected the first black president of the Harvard Law Review. The two decades from 1988 to 2008 have proved to be some of the most pivotal in America's history. Based on a lifetime of experience in government and education, William J. Bennett defines the events that shaped American history during the final years of the century."

    Review:

    I found this book extremely difficult to get into. Let me also say that I am not a big history fan. I enjoy reading and when I read the description of this book I mistakingly assumed that the entire book would be layed out in interesting facts not all the facts! If you were somebody who liked to read about history then you would enjoy this book, otherwise there isn't enough of the 'interesting tid bits' to keep you interested if that is the only reason you are reading it.

    Thomas Nelson Publishers gave this book to me in exchange for an honest review through the program - booksneeze!

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  • Posted June 5, 2010

    A Century Turns by William Bennett

    Author, historian, and educator William J. Bennett examines America's last two decades.
    Twenty years ago a young man named Barack Obama was elected the first black president of the Harvard Law Review. John McCain was serving his second year in the Senate, and Colin Powell had just been promoted to chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. There was no Fox News Channel, no American Idol. If you asked someone to "email me," you would have received a blank stare, and "Amazon" was a forest in South America.
    As I read this history of the past twenty years, I was reminded of events that had happened along the way, which brought back distinct and emotional memories. Events such as the crumbling of the Berlin Wall, Operation Desert Storm, the Oklahoma City bombing, the Columbine High School massacre and September 11th to name a few. As I read, I would remember where I was and what I was doing when social and or political events significantly impacted me. A Century Turns is a history book and while at a couple points did seem to read as a textbook, there are enough anecdotal stories in which one could see an inside glimpse of more the Washington political scene.

    This book was easy to read and follow as I have lived through the events. It was interesting because William Bennett was in the middle of a lot of the events that he is describing.

    This is a recommended read for all to remember where we came from to see where we are going because it seems to be that every twenty years or so, history repeats itself. Are we learning from our past mistakes?

    Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from Thomas Nelson Publishers as part of their BookSneeze.com book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255 : "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."

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  • Posted April 26, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    A Century Turns, by William J. Bennett

    In the years from 1988 to 2008, the United States - while never a static country - went through some of its most dramatic and fascinating changes. William J. Bennett's "A Century Turns: New Hopes, New Fears" describes this, from race riots to natural disaster to the election of America's first black president. I requested this book from Thomas Nelson and found it an informative read.

    The author traces American political and social developments, beginning with the administration of the first President Bush. I don't know much about politics, so I found it interesting to learn how candidates' expression of emotion (or the lack thereof) influences voters. The book also explains why a candidate might pick a certain running mate.

    For instance, Bill Clinton chose Al Gore even though Gore was of the same age and from a neighboring state, so it wasn't a "balanced ticket" in that regard. However, as the book describes...

    "Al and Tipper Gore's marriage was famously free of any hint of scandal or dalliance. In selecting Al Gore, Clinton seemed to be saying to voters, "I know my own marriage has not been perfect, but I respect your traditional values and I will uphold them." . From the moment in June when Clinton named Al Gore, he was never behind in the public opinion polls."

    This may be well-known to someone who's familiar with politics, but I appreciated it being spelled out like this. :)

    Events abroad are covered as well, in terms of how they affected the United States. The fall of the Berlin Wall, the event that inspired Black Hawk Down, the eventual fate of Elian Gonzalez. it's all touched on, proceeding through George W. Bush's presidency and ending as the McCain and Obama campaigns kick into gear. A strong sense of salute-the-flag runs through this book, so it would make a good read (or good gift) for someone who shares a similar patriotism.

    On the other hand, while most discussions of reproductive rights issues in this book seem to avoid bias, the author refers to "partial-birth abortion", which isn't a medical term. This procedure is also described in an emotive way without an explanation of why it may be found necessary.

    Then again, the author also says that he told a young Bill Gates that his life would be so much better if he would stay in school (page 133).

    The book concludes by contrasting two Americas - one led by "an evangelical Christian, who deployed military force to destroy terrorists" and one which seems to be Obama's America, a place more ready for multiculturalism and acceptance. It made me think of the duality in the book's subtitle - "New Hopes, New Fears". Perhaps one America has the fears, and the other the hopes.

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  • Posted April 26, 2010

    A good chronicle of events-an average incisive history lesson

    This book reads more like a novel than a piece of historical work. It captures the turn of the century and the political intricacies during the period of 1988 to 2008. During this period there were wars, changes in US presidency and great turmoil in the world. Bennet does a competent job of capturing them.

    The book would have beeb much better had the author tried to go behind the reasons of historical events rather than just being a chronicler of it. So, in effect the books reads more like a collection of newspaper articles pieced together in a very nice fashion.

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  • Posted March 10, 2010

    A Century Turns: Good read if you haven't followed the news the past 20 years

    This latest offering in a three-volume American history series by Bill Bennett, conservative pundit, author, and politician, covers the years from 1988-2008. Volumes I and II, entitled America: The Last Best Hope, describe the years from the discovery of America to the end of Reagan's presidency. According to Bennett, teachers have built entire history curricula from these two books, and schools have added them to their supplemental reading lists. I have not read the first two volumes; in fact, I was unaware of their existence until I began reading A Century Turns. Thomas Nelson Publishing provided me with a complimentary copy of the book for the purpose of reviewing it on my blog. I began reading with three main questions in mind: 1. Would reading this book make me want to read the earlier volumes? 2. As a former history teacher myself, would I use these books for my curriculum or supplemental material? 3. Would Bennett's conservative beliefs make the book overly biased?

    Now that I have finished the book, I can answer these questions. I do not feel the urge to rush out and buy the first two volumes and doubt if I will read them. It's not that A Century Turns is bad. It's easily read and would be interesting to anyone who wants to know more about the political history of the past twenty years. The book naturally focuses on politics, since Bennett was heavily involved in government himself during these years. He does occasionally veer off into popular culture and other events, but it seems like an afterthought when he does - it doesn't flow smoothly. As a history teacher and CNN junkie, I learned very little from reading this book that I didn't already know. Like many history books covering a long period of time in a short volume, it is somewhat superficial. Anyone who has paid close attention to current events in recent history may enjoy being reminded of what they have seen on TV news, but it will not be new to them.

    I don't know about the first two volumes, but I cannot see building an entire curriculum from A Century Turns. It would, however, be a good reference book, and I would have no qualms about adding it to a reading list for my classes.

    As for bias, I feel Bennett does a fairly good job of being objective in his reporting of events. He was part of the government during this time period and occasionally offers personal anecdotes. When he does offer his opinion, he makes it clear that he is doing so. Readers will have no doubt that Bennett is a conservative, but he doesn't get preachy about it.

    In conclusion, if you have not been that tuned into current events and would like to know more about the politics, government, and some popular culture of the past twenty years, you may enjoy this book.

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  • Posted March 8, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    The History of 1988-2008

    A Century Turns
    BY: William J. Bennett
    PUBLISHED BY: Thomas Nelson
    PUBLISHED IN: 2009
    ISBN: 978-1-5955-5169-6
    Pages: 319
    Ages: Adults
    Reviewed by Billy Burgess

    The New York Times best-selling author, William J. Bennett, continues his "America: The Last Hope" series in "A Century Turns" covering the years 1988-2008 The book cover the American political history. Starting at the election of 1988 - when George H.W. Bush became president and ending with Barack Obama becoming the forty-fourth president of the United States.

    The first chapter about the election of 1988 is boring. I had trouble getting through that chapter. I didn't get interested in the book until the Bill Clinton years. I'm glad that the author didn't write from a political party point of view, but instead wrote the history of those twenty years. I was disappointed that the author mentioned the O.J. Simpson trial. What does that have to do with America's political history? Nothing. It should have never been mentioned. I would only recommend "A Century Turns" to history/political buffs and teachers.

    Note: I would like to thank Thomas Nelson for sending me this complimentary copy to review.

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  • Posted March 6, 2010

    A Century Turns

    A Century Turns New Hopes, New Fears by William J. Bennett provides a good summary of America between 1988 and 2008. Bennett offers it from a political point of view, as expected because Bennet is first and foremost involved in politics, not as a politician, but as a political educator and advisor. He served under senior President Bush administration and his network, professional and social, was built on the steps of Capitol Hill. The book covered presidential elections from George H. W. Bush to Barack Obama, and international and domestic political policies. However, readers should expect limited coverage on culture, media, technology and social landscape. Any account of those coverage is a small percentage compared to the political coverage.

    The book carries a personal voice and is sometimes subjective. For example, when Bennett defended what the media misreported about some of President Bush's activities and policies, specifically in the first part of the book - his loyalty to Senior Bush is clearly evident. We see the political landscape of 1988 to 2008 from Bennett's eyes through his own personal involvement and accounts. Overall, his perspective is optimistic and hopeful, which are great ingredients for a America's next century.

    Overall I like the book, though it wasn't anything extraordinary. I would recommend it to those who are interested in a quick recap of America's political agenda between 1988 and 2008. It's a fairly quick read.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 1, 2010

    I highly recommend this book!

    I highly recommend this book. The author William Bennet is a fantastic writer. As soon as I started reading this book, I was hooked and was difficult to put the book down; wanted to read more.
    I thoroughly enjoyed reading this book, even more than I first thought. A very well written book and quick read.

    This book is about 20 years of history from 1988 to 2008 of the United States. Not just politics, but everything significant that happened; some of the greatest changes in history; A much more interesting time period than I had initially thought.

    Mr. Bennett has included details that many may have forgotten, and he presents the information in a well organized and easy to follow format.
    America has gone through a lot these past twenty years. I never paid much attention to the news and politics so this book was very interesting for me to read about history, and bring me up to speed and better understand as to how we got to where we are today.

    I received this book free from Thomas Nelson Publishers as part of their BookSneeze.com book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own.

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