A Century Turns: New Hopes, New Fears [NOOK Book]

Overview

In  A Century Turns, William J. Bennett explores America's recent and momentous history the contentious election of 1988, the fall of the Berlin Wall and the collapse of global Communism, the presidency of William Jefferson Clinton, the technological and commercial boom of the 1990s, the war on terror, and the election of America's first black president.


Surveying politics and pop culture, economics and technology, war and religion, ...

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A Century Turns: New Hopes, New Fears

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Overview

In  A Century Turns, William J. Bennett explores America's recent and momentous history the contentious election of 1988, the fall of the Berlin Wall and the collapse of global Communism, the presidency of William Jefferson Clinton, the technological and commercial boom of the 1990s, the war on terror, and the election of America's first black president.


Surveying politics and pop culture, economics and technology, war and religion, Bennett pieces together the players, the personalities, the feats and the failures that transformed key moments in the American story. And he captures it all with piercing insight and unrelenting optimism.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781418584023
  • Publisher: Nelson, Thomas, Inc.
  • Publication date: 1/12/2010
  • Sold by: THOMAS NELSON
  • Format: eBook
  • Pages: 336
  • File size: 3 MB

Read an Excerpt

A CENTURY TURNS

New Hopes, New Fears
By William J. Bennett

Thomas Nelson

Copyright © 2009 William J. Bennett
All right reserved.

ISBN: 978-1-4185-8402-3


Chapter One

Enemies Abroad, Challenges at Home

Two things about George H. W. Bush: he was the kindest boss I ever had. A man of great decency, concerned for others' personal well-being and family, he said yes to any meeting requested and returned every phone call I ever placed to him. His handwritten and typed notes were models of decorum and goodwill, always with an inquiry or wish for a family member or family event he knew about. He was also tremendously athletic—an avid jogger and tennis player, a fine line-drive hitter, to say nothing of skydiving in his retirement. But when spending time with George H. W. Bush, one could not help picking up one overarching sense and theme of the man: a deep, abiding love of country—a quiet patriotism that stirred constantly within. Nowhere did I see this more pronounced than in a 1990 trip to Portland, Oregon, with him. We were looking out a hotel window, predawn, when I had agreed to go jogging with him, and he saw protestors outside burning a pile of items, protesting any number of things. One thing they burned was the American flag. President Bush turned to me and said, "I understand these young people and their protests—but what really gets to me is when they burn the American flag. Nothing gets me like that. Can anything be more disrespectful? Do they have any idea of what people have done to keep that flag held high?" I remember thinking, If only the rest of the world could hear this man and the weight he puts in his deeply reflective moments like that—if only they could see his sense of America. He would be more loved. But that was not the public President Bush; he was always more comfortable keeping his deepest feelings private. To my mind, he was a very emotional man who cared about more people and things than the public record, or he, would ever show.

The years 1988 to 1992 were momentous—in the world and at home we would see CDs outsell vinyl records for the first time and the debut of such famous television shows as Seinfeld and The Simpsons; the Ayatollah Ruholla Khomeini would call for an international death threat on a British author popular in America and would (himself ) die of natural causes in 1989; terrorism would become more pronounced as a violent means of political expression with more Americans being targeted; an Egyptian cleric named Omar Abdel-Rahman (also known as the "Blind Sheikh") would move to America; the Berlin Wall would fall; and the issue of race relations would once again become front and center in American culture and politics—sparked by an incident on the streets of Los Angeles and by the nomination of a second black man to the Supreme Court.

I. the Choppy seas of the 1988 Election

Vice President George H. W. Bush had a distinguished career in public life. The son of a well-respected U.S. senator, he had enlisted in the navy in 1943, becoming the youngest pilot in the navy at that time, and he flew more than fifty combat missions in World War II, including one where he had to eject from his aircraft in a raid over Japan after his plane was struck by enemy antiaircraft fire. Later, after a career in the oil business in Texas, George H. W. Bush went on to become a member of the House of Representatives from Texas, a U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, the chairman of the Republican National Committee, an envoy to the People's Republic of China, and the director of the Central Intelligence Agency.

Vice President Bush had faithfully supported Ronald Reagan through both terms of his dramatic and course-altering presidency. In a city notorious for "leaking," no leaks came from the Bush office. In an office often used for the stronger part of attack-style politics and sometimes more questionable public ethics behavior, Vice President Bush remained the consummate gentleman and clean-government professional—no Spiro Agnew or Richard Nixon, he. When he declared his intention to run for the Republican nomination for president, however, he found he had plenty of opponents.

For starters, there was the Kansan, Senate Republican Leader Bob Dole. A national figure for decades, he had run with President Gerald Ford as his vice presidential nominee in 1976.

Then there was Congressman Jack Kemp, Republican from New York, who represented the charismatic, young Supply-Siders (those who believed in economic growth through marginal tax rate cuts). Kemp was also a social conservative and foreign policy hawk. His base was tied to a philosophy of economic growth through tax cuts, social renewal, and tough rhetoric for the Soviet Union and its satellites. Kemp was the principal author and spokesman on Capitol Hill for the tax cuts that helped define the Reagan presidency and was known for such clever partisan jibes as, "The leaders of the Democratic Party aren't soft on Communism, they're soft on democracy."

Messrs. Dole and Kemp weren't the only opponents. The carefully laid plans of many Republican hopefuls (including Delaware Governor Pete du Pont and former Secretary of State Alexander Haig) were thrown into disarray by the entrance into the race of Rev. Pat Robertson (president of the Christian Broadcasting Network). Robertson's appeal to evangelicals was said to be equivalent in the GOP to Rev. Jesse Jackson's appeal to black Americans in the Democratic ranks. Robertson would prove to disrupt the candidacy of Jack Kemp (himself an evangelical Christian) with the ever-growing base of religious conservatives. In the 1987 bellwether Ames, Iowa, straw poll, Pat Robertson came in first place. By early January 1988, the polls from Iowa (whose caucuses are considered key tests of strength in presidential contests) validated Robertson's strength but showed Bob Dole in the lead. Indeed, Vice President Bush was having problems.

Bush's nomination would typically have been a near coronation because he was the sitting vice president loyally serving a beloved president. Richard Nixon, for example, had had little trouble wrapping up the Republican nomination following eight years' service with the popular Eisenhower in 1960. As party machines began to fade over the years, however, it was becoming necessary to show real strength at the grassroots level and to actually earn the votes of primary voters and activists. Thus, in a split field, Bush's nomination was far from assured.

In January 1988, with polls showing him in second place in the February Iowa caucuses, Vice President Bush went on the CBS Evening News with Dan Rather for a wide-ranging interview. Dan Rather was, even then, considered a biased anchor, eager to embarrass Republicans. When Rather tried to badger Bush with questions about his alleged involvement in Iran-Contra, Bush pushed back—strongly. After a series of unremitting questions, the dialogue on national television went this way:

Rather: I don't want to be argumentative, Mr. Vice President.

Bush: You do, Dan.

Rather: No ... no, sir, I don't.

Bush: This is not a great night, because I want to talk about why I want to be president, why those 41 percent of the people are supporting me. And I don't think it's fair ...

Rather: And Mr. Vice President, if these questions are ...

Bush: ... to judge my whole career by a rehash on Iran. How would you like it if I judged your career by those seven minutes when you walked off the set in New York?

Rather: Well, Mister ...

Bush: Would you like that?

Rather: Mr. Vice President ...

Bush: I have respect for you, but I don't have respect for what you're doing here tonight.

As the interview began, I had no idea how it would turn out. No one had ever talked back to one of the leaders of what was perceived as the establishment of elite public opinion on the air on his own program. But Vice President Bush traded fire for fire here, pointing out—on Dan Rather's own broadcast—that Rather had an imperfect past as well; for example, the previous year he had walked off his television camera set when the U.S. Open was still airing on his network even though it was time for the news. When the cameras went live to the news, many affiliates throughout the country had nothing to air because Rather was nowhere to be found.

For many years, George H. W. Bush had been seen as somewhat disconnected from the conservative grassroots of the Republican Party, too genteel to stand up for conservative principles, too close to the establishment, too Northeast preppy and not enough Midwest, Southwest, or just plain West as Barry Goldwater, Richard Nixon, and Ronald Reagan had been. For many grassroots conservatives who had long distrusted Bush's ties to the GOP's eastern establishment, the headline of a 1987 Newsweek cover and profile of the vice president said it all: "Fighting the Wimp Factor." As presidential historian Timothy Naftali put it, "No one questioned the physical courage of the World War II veteran, and eternally young tennis player and jogger. It was his political courage that was in question." With this highly publicized clash with Dan Rather, Bush came close to erasing these doubts.

But not close enough for the voters of Iowa. Dole, as expected, won big in the Hawkeye State. Robertson came in second.

Bush was undeterred. He turned the tables in the next key contest, New Hampshire, and charged Dole with being a tax raiser. New Hampshire Republicans were (and are) famously averse to higher taxes. After aggressively retooling his campaign, Bush soundly won the New Hampshire primary. Dole came in second and Jack Kemp, third. Pat Robertson's campaign seemed an Iowa anomaly with little steam to continue nationally, and Jack Kemp was soon to realize it would be awfully difficult to persuade the public that he was a stronger disciple of Ronald Reagan's principles than Ronald Reagan's vice president—no matter how long Kemp had been a philosophical conservative. Following his defeat in New Hampshire, Dole was asked in a televised interview if he had a message for the vice president. Dole snarled, "Stop lying about my record!" That unhappy comment, as much as his New Hampshire defeat, effectively ended Dole's run in 1988. Within just weeks, Bush swept the primaries of Super Tuesday and wrapped up the Republican nomination.

For the Democrats, Senator Gary Hart of Colorado had been regarded as the leading candidate. But he made the mistake of inviting a young woman, not his wife, to spend the night in his Washington townhome—after challenging the press to tail him. Hart denied all impropriety and denounced the reporters who "hid in the bushes" to trap him. Then a tabloid newspaper published a picture of him with the woman on his lap. They were shown aboard a pleasure boat eponymously named Monkey Business. Hart was quickly forced out of the race in 1987, leaving no obvious candidate, and a national conversation ensued. People debated the proper role of the media in its intrusion into the private lives of public figures (as they saw it) and the people's right to know (as the media defined it). This unresolved theme would loom large for the next twenty years and unfold at higher and higher levels with increasing dissonance and effect at every strain.

So, for the Democrats, the choices came down to, among others, Tennessee Senator Al Gore, Arizona Governor Bruce Babbitt, Missouri Congressman Dick Gephardt, Illinois Senator Paul Simon, civil rights leader Rev. Jesse Jackson, and Massachusetts Governor Michael Dukakis. Delaware Senator Joe Biden had dropped out of the race the year before, after the press had reported allegations of his plagiarism of a British politician's speeches and his fibbing about his college and law school records.

Gore played to his strength in the New South. He was young, vigorous, and a leader of those bright, well-educated politicians who had embraced the computer revolution, sometimes called Atari Democrats. He was also known as a bit more of a hawk on foreign policy than many liberals in the Democratic Party. Gore, however, came to grief in New York State. He had attempted to follow the Carter line on abortion; he favored the Roe v. Wade ruling, committed himself to legal abortion, but opposed federal funding for abortion-on-demand. Among the party's liberal activists, this position was anathema.

Babbitt attracted a flurry of press attention when he challenged his rivals in a televised debate to stand up if they favored a tax increase. Babbitt alone stood, and his elevated stance stood him few favors. Walter Mondale's bold assertion that he would hike taxes was praised as courage in 1984, but his staggering electoral defeat may have cooled liberals' ardor to try that again, and it was a massive turnoff to independents and to those known as Reagan Democrats.

Paul Simon was the last of the colorful prairie populists. He had been an Illinois editor, a student of Abraham Lincoln, and like the Emancipator, had never been to college. That last fact hadn't stopped him from writing a dozen books. But Simon's slicked-down hairdo, bowtie, and pendulous earlobes made him seem a throwback to the 1930s—even as he appealed to some voters with a thoroughly liberal voting record and a reputation for integrity.

Jesse Jackson renewed his wild-card status in the Democratic primaries. Party leaders dreaded the possibility that an offended Jackson might run for president as an independent. Such a move would doom the Democratic nominee's prospects. On the other hand, his open embrace of Third World dictators and terrorists such as Fidel Castro and Yasser Arafat caused deep distress in many quarters.

Dick Gephardt was a young member of the House of Representatives, but not very well known outside of Washington and Missouri. Proving how difficult and rare it can be for a member of the House to succeed, Gephardt won a few delegates and ran out of money fairly quickly.

Dukakis was a different story. Generous contributions from America's Greek community fueled his run for the White House. Justifiably proud of one of their own running for president, this community represented the success of America's appeal to hardworking immigrants. And the governor of a liberal state fit in perfectly fine with the Democratic Party's ideological commitments and regional preferences.

With strong sources of additional campaign funding, and no drama or awkward imagery surrounding him, Dukakis outlasted his opponents and cruised to a fairly easy nomination. For vice president, he selected an established Texan, Senator Lloyd Bentsen. The more conservative Bentsen could never have prevailed with liberal party activists in a race for the presidency (he hadn't even tried to run), but he seemed the perfect candidate to balance the national ticket both regionally and with some ideologically centrist appeal. The Boston-Austin alliance reminded party leaders of the successful 1960 ticket of Kennedy and Johnson.

Throughout the spring and most of the summer, Dukakis led George Bush by widening margins. Dukakis seized on his immigrant parents' story as an appeal to other first-generation Americans (the song played as he approached the podium at the 1988 Democratic Convention was Neil Diamond's "Coming to America"), and he even threw in a few lines of Spanish in his convention speech to strong applause. After the convention, Dukakis saw his poll numbers surge. When Bush arrived at his New Orleans nominating convention in August, he was down seventeen points in some polls.

George H. W. Bush jumped over a generation of political leaders in his selection of a vice presidential nominee. He chose a politically conservative but youthful U.S. senator from Indiana. Dan Quayle was so energetic—perhaps too energetic, as the camera images showed the way he leaped onstage at his announcement for the nomination at a shirtsleeve rally in the steamy Delta city of New Orleans—that liberal journalists had a field day portraying him as an intellectual lightweight, owing to his youth and lack of national stature. The truth was, however, that Senator Quayle was forty-one years old at the time he was selected and had served in the U.S. Senate for eight years, having unseated the liberal lion Birch Bayh in his 1980 reelection effort. Prior to that, he had served in the U.S. House of Representatives.

The handsome Quayle, and a few others, had shared a townhouse during a golfing weekend with a woman, not his wife, some years back, and with that the press thought they had a story—and they attempted to tarnish his image the same way they had succeeded in tarnishing Gary Hart's. The townhouse at the golfing resort had, in fact, been occupied by several young congressmen. They were weekend guests of a Washington lobbyist. The senator's wife, Marilyn Quayle, intervened and assured voters that if the choice was between philandering and golf, her husband, Dan, would choose golf. The story pretty much ended there.

Failing with that maneuver, the press then concentrated on the wealthy Quayle's alleged preferential treatment of getting into the Indiana National Guard during the Vietnam War. But his opponent, Lloyd Bentsen, had a son who served in the Texas Air National Guard at roughly the same time that Quayle was serving in Indiana. If it was wrong for the goose to have strings pulled, surely it was just as wrong for the gander. And of course, criticizing service in the National Guard would only go so far before it would begin to offend others who were serving or had served in the National Guard.

In the midst of this storm of unfavorable press coverage, Dan Quayle was often tongue-tied. He occasionally tripped up in front of the microphone and cameras. Never mind that he had outdebated the highly articulate liberal Senator Bayh back in 1980. Never mind that he had earned respect in the Senate for his mastery of arcane defense issues. The press painted him as an intellectual lightweight and too young for the job. The tag stuck. Though this was a media theme throughout the rest of the campaign, as well as the basis for late-night television jokes and Democratic Party jabs, Quayle's perceived deficiencies did not attach further up the ticket.

(Continues...)



Excerpted from A CENTURY TURNS by William J. Bennett Copyright © 2009 by William J. Bennett. Excerpted by permission of Thomas Nelson. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

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Table of Contents

Contents

Introduction....................xi
Chapter 1: Enemies Abroad, Challenges at Home....................1
Chapter 2: Rise of the Boomer....................53
Chapter 3: Into the Fire....................117
Chapter 4: Bush and the Age of terror....................153
Chapter 5: Bush's second term—In War & Controversy....................202
Chapter 6: Peril & Promise, Failure & success....................229
Epilogue....................271
Acknowledgments....................277
Notes....................279
Index....................311
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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4
( 45 )
Rating Distribution

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(12)

4 Star

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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 45 Customer Reviews
  • Posted March 13, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    Stained-glass Picture of American Life

    I was an adult during the twenty years of which Mr. Bennett wrote, but my memories of the events he so admirably pieced together were unformed. Everyday activities took precedent over the events of our national life. That history was the backdrop to those personal experiences. However, my memories of American history beginning in 1988 resembled jumbled pieces of broken glass thrown into a kaleidoscope pattern. What I appreciate most about *"A Century Turns" is that those events are skillfully constructed into a stained-glass window of national life under William Bennett's able hand. Because he was involved in much of the political activity during those twenty years, he adds a personal touch to the account. Much as the thin strips of lead hold a stained-glass window together, his touches of memoir become the slivers of light that give definition and cohesion to the picture he creates. My 90-year-old Mother is reading "A Century Turns" now. Other family members are eagerly waiting their turns to borrow it.

    *Thomas Nelson provided a free copy of this book.

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted March 9, 2010

    Good follow-on two previous 2 volumes!

    This is a good follow-on to the previous two historical references by William J. Bennett, "America: The Last Best Hope, volumes 1 and 2." I only say 'good' because I feel we are still too close to the things outlined in this book, historically speaking. However, the topics are quite relevant and still fresh in my personal memory. It was a great refresher to fill in the fuzzy areas. Regardless of what Michael states as a disclaimer in the book (based on his notes and recollections), I find them to be quite accurate and very enlightening. He has perspective I did not consider, both at the time of occurrence and now.
    I would recommend this book to anyone who would like a fair look at the happenings of the 1980's, 1990's, and 2000's (up to 2008). I particularly enjoyed the recitation of George H.W. Bush's and Bill Clinton's presidencies. The 2000's is a little weak, again because we are just too close to that period historically.
    Overall a wonderful book that is well prepared, and very easy to read. Just like his previous two volumes, this one reads more like a story (and an amazing one at that!) and is somewhat hard to put down. I would recommend this book to anyone who is interested in a relatively unbiased review of these eras.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted March 7, 2010

    Great History Insight

    In A Century Turns New Hopes, New Fears William Bennett covers the last 20 years in America's History. The book opens with George H.W Bush & his presidency, then moves forward from there. William Bennett gives you a first hand look at many things - good & bad - in the last 20 years.

    Since I am only in my late twenties, this book was amazing to me. I was shocked by many things that Bennett talks about. But I also liked how he included a lot of his own first hand experiences. I think that by doing that you get a better idea of the time frame as well as the history itself. This book when more in depth I thought then my history classes in high school. I strongly recommend this book to anyone who is a histiry buff, or anyone is wants to get a different look at the last 20 years.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted August 23, 2011

    A Book for the U.S. History Buff.

    I personally found this book pretty difficult to get into. I have never been a huge fan of United States history but I thought I would give this book a shot. If you are an American history buff, this would probably be a good read for you. It is a pretty thorough and mostly unbiased review of the most recent history here in the U.S. dating from 1988 to 2008. I will admit, some is a bit of a conservative view but it is mostly unbiased. What is different about this book is that the author uses his own personal experiences and emotions during these events to educate you on these recent histories. He speaks of how our country has been shaped and how the political climate changed in the years which led up to the United States electing it's first African American President, President Barrack Obama. Also greatly discussed were the changes in the culture that also helped shape the country and the politics, so much changed within those twenty years. It is well written, easy to read and full of great information. But I would not recommend this for someone who isn't truly interested in United States history or politics.

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  • Posted February 21, 2011

    A very good and insightful read

    I would highly recommend for anyone interested in a quick and very concise and informative overview of the present and recent history of the United States. A very fair and mostly unbiased assessement. As always, with events you lived through, it is hard to be unbaised - particularly with TV and the internet having shaped some or most of these events for good or ill. For anyone that has not read Bill Bennett, this is a good book to start with and an excellent conmpletion to his America series. Very Highly recommend.

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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 October 21, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    Well written and very informative

    The book is written from a conservative point of view (no shocker there), but I thought that he gave the Clinton administration and the Democrat party a fair shake. This book is no harangue about the evils of the pinko/commie/socialists plotting to take over the world. Often times most high-school level courses get so mired down in the revolutionary and civil war that the end of the year comes and the students have only just gotten into the Vietnam War. "Modern day" history was rarely covered in depth and what a shame as these events typically play such an important role in understanding what's happening around us today. With the format of this book, one can read a relatively concise account of modern-day history.



    I thought this book was well written and very informative. Any history freek like myself would love reading this book. I love America's history and I love how the author didn't seem bias throughout the book. He kept to the facts, but made it interesting. It didn't seem like I was reading a book that could easily be used in a history class to be taught lessons with. It was put simple enough that for anybody could read it and understand it.

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  • Posted August 31, 2010

    more from this reviewer

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

    Frankly speaking, I am not an American. Therefore, this review was based on my personal perspective and logical thinking about the content of this book. My motivation to read this book is to increase my understanding about the American history.

    Instead of summarizing the history, the author shared his enriched and valuable experiences about the players in the America. Besides, the author recorded his feeling and thought in footnotes so the readers will have better understanding about the situations. I found that this book is not only readable, but also full of valuable information. Furthermore, few memorable photos in the book are definitely helpful for me to recall back the events which occurred in my life.

    Personally, I believe that this book is very helpful, as a record or reminder, for those who are eager to have a better review about the American politics, the presidents, the presidential elections, and the "war against terrorism" in the past two decades. To sum up, I give it five out of five stars for A Century Turns.

    Review by:
    Xaivier Chia

    Disclosure of Material Connection:
    I received this book free from Thomas Nelson Publishers as part of their BookSneeze.com <http://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 <http://www.access.gpo.gov/nara/cfr/waisidx_03/16cfr255_03.html> : "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."

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  • Posted August 18, 2010

    I am a Product of A Century Turns

    Both my husband and I read A Century Turns: New Hopes, New Fears by William J. Bennet. A historical novel is written about the end of the 20th and beginning of the 21st Century from a Current Events and Political perspective. It is combines the gossip and trends from the entertainment world and gives account of our country's political history. It's William J. Bennett's insight on the time line of 1988 and 2008.

    1988 was the year I was married, the events mentioned are those that I developed my opinions from and have expanded upon over the course of a decade. I voted for the first time in a Presidential Election, I witnessed the end of Communism. I can tell you where I was when I heard about Kuwait and my life was forever altered after the bombing of the World Trade Center. In this span I've seen history made as a nation elected a father and a son into the White House (George H.W. Bush and George W. Bush). I watched the news report the execution of Saddam Hussein. This has been my decade and William J. Bennett does an excellent job of adding his wit to these world changing events.

    Too often I am scouring the blogosphere for celebrity gossip--mostly Jon Bon Jovi. It's my way of escaping reality. I realized as I read these pages of A Century Turns that I tend to stick my head in the sand when the event is something I have no control over. It also made me open my eyes to see how my everyday life and the technology I use is impacted by the events that I close my eyes to and want to end.
    My husband really loved how the book was written in a novel form, but gave insight into events that are relevant to our adult life. He especially enjoyed the story about George H.W. Bush coming out of his shell--I won't spoil it for those wanting to read more.

    A Century Turns is a unique book giving insight into the past 20 years and as only Wiliam J. Bennett could do, pulls it off as a novel with witty comments, brilliant footnotes and a read that you'll want to share. This book will leave you pondering the events that have molded our society and have you paying attention to those that are in the progress of shaping the next decade!

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  • Posted August 17, 2010

    A Century Turns

    I thought this book was going to intrigue me yet it failed to do so. Not because of the book, but because of my interest in History! It was well written but if you are not a huge history buff then it is difficult to keep turning the pages. It does not fail to educate on the last twenty years though! I will be giving this to my Father in Law whom loves this kind of stuff!

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  • Posted July 9, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    A Century Turns

    I've just read "A Century Turns" By William J. Bennett and was not disappointed! I have always been a HUGE fan of history, and enjoyed reading about our country's past from 1988 - 2008. Including the campaign of George H. Bush and the election of Barack Obama, and many events in-between!

    The way this book was written was interesting, a relief from hearing politics on T.V. nowadays. I would recommend this book to anyone who loves history, or as a great gift to anyone who does! This book does not disappoint!

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  • Posted July 3, 2010

    A Century Turns

    William Bennett is an exceptionally intelligent man and what I expected form his latest book was a thoughtful look at the two decades from 1988 until 2008. What I found was less than that.

    He writes well and illustrates his history with anecdotes, but the work was more justification than illumination. A member of both the Reagan and Bush administrations (Secretary of Education & head of the National Endowment of the Humanities under Reagan & Bush's Drug Czar - Bush 1), Bennett was in the unique position to have shaped policy and action on several fronts.

    In his first address to Congress, President Bush said he and Bennett would "be shoulder to shoulder in the exective branch leading the charge." Looking back at their charge from the safety of the future, it has a greater resemblance to Pickett's charge at Gettysburg, which signaled the distruction of the Confederacy, than anything else.

    Currently, the United States, which has 5% of the world's population, consumes TWO-THIRDS of the world's production of illegal drugs. Drug gangs are fighting and killing each other - and innocent bystanders - all along the border between Mexico and the U.S. And the Mexican government has little hope of stopping it.

    After all, what would you do if your next door neighbor was the biggest drug user in the world? How would you stop the never-ending flow of dealers coming and going at all hours of the day and night? You would be constantly on the phone with the police, if you weren't hiding in fear.

    It's not Bush's fault, or Bennett's, or the fault of any of the presidents and officials that followed them. Law and policy only go so far. Sure, it's illegal to smoke pot or snort cocaine or take oxycodone. It's illegal to do a great many things and most of us do something illegal each and every day.

    It may be only a rolling stop at that stop sign near our house where there's not much traffic and we can see NOBODY is coming (though we don't see the cop). Or doing 80-ish to get around that guy on the interstate doing 67 in a 70 zone. (And they're not even in the far right lane.)

    But what we have seen from all those policies is not some remediation or lessening of drug use - it's worse now than it was. What we don't see in Bennett's book is an understanding or analysis of what worked, whether that was treatment or enforcement, or what didn't work. Nor do we see recommendations for the future.

    What we do see in this account is a general glossing over negatives, dismissing of opponents, and an all too typical political positioning. I can't get the time back I spent reading this.

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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 May 11, 2010

    A Century Turns by William Bennet

    I found this to be an extremely interesting and informative book. The author covers the history of the US from 1988-2008 as well as touching on the political climate which led to the election of Barrack Obama. The author pulls no punches in his honesty about US elections and their results in the last 22 years. He also goes into other recent historical events such as the LA riots, the trial of OJ Simpson, the tragedy in Waco, the bombing of the Murrah Building in Oklahoma City, the first Word Trade Center bombing and of course the terrorist attacks of Sept 11 2001 and the result conflicts in Iraq & Afghanistan.

    Being a Canadian and not familiar with a good portion of the American political system, I found this book to be a very good if somewhat slow read (at least for me). If it isn't used as a text book in US History classes, it should be. Highly recommend this book to anyone who is interested in the events that led up to today.

    Many thanks to Thomas Nelson for supplying the complimentary copy of this book for review.

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  • Posted May 8, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    A Century Turns: New Hopes, New Fears by William J. Bennett

    It seems like only yesterday, but it was over twenty years ago since 1988. In 1988 I was teaching in a small Christian school. I was casting my first vote as a real tax paying adult. The Berlin Wall divided the world into East and West and we were wondering what life would be like without Ronald Reagan in office. The years from the fall of the Berlin Wall and the fall of the Twin Towers was less than fifteen years, but the world has changed dramatically.

    William Bennett is one of the few people who have remained in the thick of the political fray between the years 1988 and 2008. In "A Century Turns" Bennett gives an articulate chronicle of these volatile years.

    Unlike many histories of events the events of these decades, Bennett takes in a panoramic view of the years from the end of the Reagan administration to the beginning of the Obama administration. Bennett masterfully puts into an understandable order the events that we watched unfold on our television screens. He weaves together in an understandable ways the developments within American culture with their affects on the political climate.

    This is a worthwhile read for those of us who lived the history, but it is even more important as a book to share with our children and grandchildren. The greatest thing I can say about the book is that it helped me to remember why I identify myself as a Christian and a cultural conservative. This book will remain will continue to be on my bookshelf for quite some time. It should be on your shelf too.

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  • Posted April 29, 2010

    A century turns

    I agreed to review this book cause it was the only book available at Booksneeze at the moment and I needed something to read, I was looking for fiction, but had to do with this one .. and frankly I'm actually glad that I read this book. Here is a very short review.

    You want to brush up your American history, pick up this book. This book is not just American history, it talks about it's future too. Subjects such as politics, pop culture, economics, technology, war and religion have also been touched.

    He has curiously remained neutral throughout the book, even at place where I thought he would not be. J. Bennett is analysing American history in this book and this book is not objective as the first two volumes. His personal comments are in footnotes and they are very interesting - don't miss them.

    This book is also a reminder of how much has changed in the past 20 years -

    Twenty years ago in our political and popular culture, there was no Fox News Channel; there was no Tonight Show with Jay Leno, no American Idol, no Jonas Brothers, no Taylor Swift, no Hannah Montana.
    The tone of the book is very interesting -

    Twenty years is a long time. Twenty years ago, if you had asked someone to "e-mail me" or said, "check out my website (or blog)," or began a phrase with "www" or asked if an article was "available online" or tried to tell someone what was on your "iPod playlist," you would have received a blank stare. "Amazon" was known simply as a forest in South America, "blackberry" was a fruit, and "Google" meant nothing.

    This short review is already longer than I meant it to be. American students, and people interested in American history will benefit most from this book.

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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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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 24, 2010

    A Century Turns

    An excellent book... recommend it for anyone interested in general information of history concerning the USA.

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  • Posted April 20, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    A Century Turns by William J Bennett

    "A Century Turns" is a book about the historical events over the last 20 years. This book, by William J Bennett, talks about the changes in politics, economics, war, and other facets that transformed America. If you enjoy a good history book, this book is for you. Everything is discussed-from the 1988 election to the 2008 Presidential Race.
    I was hooked on this book from the very beginning. Bennett's writing style makes for an easy read, but his subjects keep you interested. He is very knowledgeable about the multifaceted events of what is going on. Reading about the true events that have occurred in the last 20 years brought back many emotions. The terrorist bombing of Pan Am Flight 103, the Oklahoma City bombing, and the OJ Simpson car chase are just a few events discussed. If you want to read more about Bill Clinton, George W Bush Sr. and Jr., and President Barack Obama this is the book to read!

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