America's Prophet: Moses and the American Story

America's Prophet: Moses and the American Story

3.5 19
by Bruce Feiler
     
 

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Bruce Feiler’s New York Times bestsellers Abraham, Walking the Bible, and Where God Was Born brilliantly explored the roots of faith. With America’s Prophet, Feiler looks at Moses and the essential role the prophet has played in our nation’s history and development. Bruce Feiler’s most fascinating and

Overview

Bruce Feiler’s New York Times bestsellers Abraham, Walking the Bible, and Where God Was Born brilliantly explored the roots of faith. With America’s Prophet, Feiler looks at Moses and the essential role the prophet has played in our nation’s history and development. Bruce Feiler’s most fascinating and thought-provoking book to date, America’s Prophet delves deeply into how the Exodus story and America’s true “Spiritual Founding Father” have inspired many of the most important figures and defining events in this country’s history—from the Mayflower Pilgrims to the Civil Rights movement—and how Moses can provide meaning in times of national crisis, even today.

 

Editorial Reviews

Whether they think of it as coincidental or providential, for many Americans, the story of our country evokes the biblical saga of the Exodus. This deep connection has been felt since the earliest years of Pilgrim settlements. Since then, the story of Moses and the exiled Israelites has been linked to the American epoch by Founding Fathers, presidents, religious leaders, civil rights activists, writers, and filmmakers. In America's Prophet, Bruce Feiler (Walking the Bible; Abraham) brings the message of Moses home to our country. By using those deeply felt parallels, he explores what we see in this ancient patriarch and why we identify so closely with his mission.
Publishers Weekly
A bestselling author for his popular explorations of the lands of the Bible, Feiler turns his attention to the biblical figure of Moses in U.S. history. He argues that the story of the life of Moses as told in the book of Exodus has been the dominant metanarrative employed by political and social leaders in shaping America's identity, from the Pilgrims escaping religious persecution to the civil rights movement with its vision of a Promised Land. A journalist rather than a historian, Feiler approaches his subject using the same formula he has employed in previous books: physical walks through historic sites and interviews with experts. Although the book offers snippets of interesting anecdotes, the approach is uncontroversial and the book lacks forward momentum. Feiler is a popularizer, and readers interested in a light and cursory treatment of a theme in U.S. history will enjoy it. Readers wanting a more in-depth and critical understanding of the subject may want to look elsewhere. (Oct.)
Library Journal
Many books that examine the influence of the Bible on American society focus on controversies such as the true meaning of Genesis (Storms over Genesis: Biblical Battleground in America's Wars of Religion by William H. Jennings, Fortress, 2007) or Christmas displays on government property (War on Christmas: How the Liberal Plot To Ban the Sacred Christian Holiday Is Worse Than You Thought by John Gibson, Sentinel, 2005). Others, such as Melanie J. Wright's Moses in America: The Cultural Uses of Biblical Narrative (Oxford Univ., 2003), relate the Bible to aspects of popular culture. Feiler (Walking the Bible) goes in a different direction, starting with the unique thesis of Moses as Founding Father: the story of Moses as the story of America. Part history, part religious study, America's Prophet examines the American cycle of oppression, followed by inspired leadership, and culminating in the sometimes violent journey toward freedom. Feiler posits that from William Bradford and George Washington to Abraham Lincoln and Martin Luther King Jr., the United States has been a nation of many Moseses, reluctant leaders giving voice and vision to those with neither, the very human leaders who ultimately fail in some respects, after many trials, to reach the Promised Land. Feiler gives us the American struggle—from the Pilgrims escaping religious persecution and slaves seeking human dignity to European Jews fleeing anti-Semitism and African Americans demanding equal rights—and in the same straightforward, readable style as his previous works. Yet the book possesses a depth and a gravitas that belie the accessible text, attributable to the numerousauthorities—religious and civic, historians, and others—interviewed for the book. VERDICT Both students of the Bible and of American history will find insight in the connections Feiler makes, and both specialists and lay readers in religious studies will want this.—Michael F. Russo, Louisiana State Univ. Libs., Baton Rouge
Kirkus Reviews
A breezy look at the story of Moses and its role in the making of America. During his studies and travels, writes popular religion commentator Feiler (Where God Was Born: A Journey by Land to the Roots of Religion, 2005, etc.), he stumbled on a "little-known storyline" of American history-the influence of Moses in the making of the nation. The author claims that Moses' imprint can be seen on many major figures, including the Pilgrims, George Washington, Abraham Lincoln, Martin Luther King Jr. and, most recently, Barack Obama, who used the Exodus story throughout his presidential campaign. "One person has inspired more Americans than any other. One man is America's true founding father," writes Feiler in his typically bombastic style. "His name is Moses." In the introduction, the author twists himself into knots-"Could the persistence of his story serve as a reminder of our shared national values? Could he serve as a unifying force in a disunifying time? If Moses could split the Red Sea, could he unsplit America?"-to justify a narrative that settles into a predictable pattern: first-person reporting at a historic landmark, an interview with a historian and fairly standard textbook history. Feiler indulges a few tangents but always dutifully returns to Moses. Like a conspiracy theorist, the author often mistakes coincidence for portent. "Just because some of our ideas correlate with the Revolution doesn't mean there's causality," says one of Feiler's interviewees. Though his subject is discussing the history of the Freemasons, it could easily apply to the author's Moses thesis. However, even though the author stretches his thesis too far, he does provide an interesting greatest-hits digestof American history from the point of view of revolutionaries. A facile retracing of American history on a Mosaic theme-which is not to say Feiler fans won't love it. Author tour to Atlanta, Boston, Chicago, Columbus, Ohio, Detroit, Nashville, New York, Philadelphia, Savannah, Ga., Washington, D.C.
Booklist (starred review)
“Fascinating and thought provoking.”
The New Yorker
“Astunning collective portrait of an ingrown community with its own history, hierarchy, and traditions.”
New York Times
“Penetrating and insightful. . . . Bruce Feiler’s Dreaming Out Loud details the ins and outs of Nashville.”
Booklist
"Fascinating and thought provoking."
New York Times on Dreaming Out Loud
“Penetrating and insightful. . . . Bruce Feiler’s Dreaming Out Loud details the ins and outs of Nashville.”
The New Yorker on Under the Big Top
“Astunning collective portrait of an ingrown community with its own history, hierarchy, and traditions.”
Simon Winchester
“This is one of the most original, intelligent and endlessly fascinating books I have read in years: it should become a set book for anyone wanting to know what truly makes America tick.”
Tony Horwitz
“With a journalist eye and an adventurers spirit, Bruce Feiler brings his prodigious gifts of biblical analysis to a reconsideration of Moses as the essential prophet of the American Experience. This is an accessible and engaging book of indispensible insight.”
Douglas Brinkley
“What a smart, original, and deeply intriguing reflection on the role Moses played – yes, Moses – in U.S. history. America’s Prophet is Bruce Feiler at his innovative best: compelling, sweeping and engaging. Highly recommended!”

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780061939259
Publisher:
HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date:
10/06/2009
Sold by:
HARPERCOLLINS
Format:
NOOK Book
Pages:
400
Sales rank:
342,869
File size:
8 MB

What People are saying about this

Simon Winchester
“This is one of the most original, intelligent and endlessly fascinating books I have read in years: it should become a set book for anyone wanting to know what truly makes America tick.”
Douglas Brinkley
“What a smart, original, and deeply intriguing reflection on the role Moses playedyes, Mosesin U.S. history. America’s Prophet is Bruce Feiler at his innovative best: compelling, sweeping and engaging. Highly recommended!”
Tony Horwitz
“With a journalist eye and an adventurers spirit, Bruce Feiler brings his prodigious gifts of biblical analysis to a reconsideration of Moses as the essential prophet of the American Experience. This is an accessible and engaging book of indispensible insight.”

Meet the Author

Bruce Feiler is the author of six consecutive New York Times bestsellers, including Abraham, Where God Was Born, America's Prophet, The Council of Dads, and The Secrets of Happy Families. He is a columnist for the New York Times, a popular lecturer, and a frequent commentator on radio and television. He lives in Brooklyn with his wife and twin daughters.

Brief Biography

Hometown:
New York, New York
Date of Birth:
October 25, 1964
Place of Birth:
Savannah, Georgia
Education:
B.A., Yale University, 1987; M.Phil. in international relations, Cambridge University, 1991

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America's Prophet: How the Story of Moses Shaped America 3.6 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 19 reviews.
Heart2Heart More than 1 year ago
I know most of you know the story of Moses and the Exodus of the Israelites from Egypt into the land of milk and honey. But did you ever stop and think just how that story still relates to America? Do you see the correlation in the Pilgrims fleeing their ruling King James of England in search of the New Land? Or how many of our past presidents have made reference to the story of Moses and his life, the instruction from God, the giving of the 10 Commandments, and thus failure to follow God. Moses was commanded to follow God's instruction to the T, and every time he didn't he was punished. He never got to see the fulfillment of the Promised Land to the people he led for 40 years in the desert. In the book, America's Prophet, How The Story of Moses Shaped America by Bruce Feiler, you are taken back to the story of Moses and see how many times this very man and his life is repeated through our own history in America. I can honestly tell you as someone who loves history and faith in God, this book spoke to my heart and soul. I absolutely loved seeing God's hand in the creation of this once blessed nation and how He continues to mold and shape us through the retelling of the story. You'll learn about the history and creation of the liberty bell and learn how God was involved. What the actual inscription means that is molded into the bell. You'll learn how valuable the Bible was that Washington used, what scripture was open when he took his oath of office and what the connection was to September 11, 2001. You'll learn what the original seal was supposed to be, and how we got to the eagle and one-eye pyramid, and so much more. I think I interrupted my husband so much with each new tidbit I learned and couldn't wait to share it. This is a must read for those that love history, especially American History and how God really worked in this great nation even to the present day. I received this book compliments of TLC Book Tours for my honest review and must say it's a permanent fixture in our library now for our kids to learn about as we study history. Any parent would benefit from teaching their kids a little bit more about what's missing from our traditional history books.
mosesmom More than 1 year ago
This is a wonderfully researched history of the United States and how we got to where we are today. Moses has been with us all the way from the Pilgrams, to our first President, slavery, Civil War, Emancipation and into New York Harbor to the Statue of Liberty. This a great read.
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avidreader73 More than 1 year ago
Oh, the things they fail to teach us in school. A must read.
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