If You Can Keep It: The Forgotten Promise of American Liberty

If You Can Keep It: The Forgotten Promise of American Liberty

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by Eric Metaxas

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#1 New York Times bestselling author Eric Metaxas delivers an extraordinary book that is part history and part rousing call to arms, steeped in a critical analysis of our founding fathers' original intentions for America.

In 1787, when the Constitution was drafted, a woman asked Ben Franklin what the founders had given the American people. "A republic,


#1 New York Times bestselling author Eric Metaxas delivers an extraordinary book that is part history and part rousing call to arms, steeped in a critical analysis of our founding fathers' original intentions for America.

In 1787, when the Constitution was drafted, a woman asked Ben Franklin what the founders had given the American people. "A republic," he shot back, "if you can keep it." More than two centuries later, Metaxas examines what that means and how we are doing on that score.

If You Can Keep It is at once a thrilling review of America's uniqueness—including our role as a "nation of nations"—and a chilling reminder that America's greatness cannot continue unless we embrace our own crucial role in living out what the founders entrusted to us. Metaxas explains that America is not a nation bounded by ethnic identity or geography, but rather by a radical and unprecedented idea, based on liberty and freedom for all. He cautions us that it's nearly past time we reconnect to that idea, or we may lose the very foundation of what made us exceptional in the first place.

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
Praise for If You Can Keep It

"Profound and thoroughly entertaining . . . This book has made me think in ways that I haven’t in years. Metaxas is a major writer. Not to be missed." —Dick Cavett

"If You Can Keep It: The Forgotten Promise of American Liberty—along with such essentials as Up from Slavery by Booker T. Washington and The 5000 Year Leap by W. Cleon Skousen—must be front and center on every reading list." The Washington Times

"Everyone in every country, at every socioeconomic level, of every religious and secular persuasion, of every political bent, should read it. . . . It’s the book you must read this year." —Martha Rogers, PhD, coauthor of Extreme Trust: Honesty as a Competitive Advantage
"Eric Metaxas [is] one of our nation’s most brilliant and morally serious public intellectuals." —Robert P. George, McCormick Professor of Jurisprudence at Princeton University
"Irresistible . . . compellingly written . . . important. Not only should every American read it—they should then reread it aloud to their children and grandchildren." —Dennis Prager
"Eric Metaxas has done a great service to the country." —Gregory Alan Thornbury, PhD, president of the King’s College, New York City

"A faith-based argument for American exceptionalism . . . that will appeal to Christian readers." —Kirkus Reviews

Praise for Miracles

Miracles is the sort of book that—once you've read it—you'll wonder where it's been all your life.” —Kathie Lee Gifford, Emmy Award—winning host, The Today Show 

“If you’re a skeptic, read this book with an open mind and you might just discover that miracles are real. If you’re already a believer, be ready to be inspired.” —Kirsten Powers, columnist for USA Today and The Daily Beast

“Take the brilliant mind of Eric Metaxas, add the provocative topic of miracles, and get ready to change the way you see reality forever.” —Erwin Raphael McManus, founder of MOSAIC and author of The Artisan Soul: Crafting Your Life into a Work of Art 

“Metaxas has done it again. . . . He presents hope for the tone deaf who cannot hear the splendor of the music of the spheres, and he brings in sunlight for modern cave dwellers who have become accustomed to only shadows on the wall of our increasingly windowless world.” —Os Guinness, author of Long Journey Home

“The miracles in Miracles—and Eric's own amazing miraculous experience—bring out the fact that the miraculous gift of eternal life that God provides can be experienced here on earth.” —Luis Palau, international evangelist 
Praise for Bonhoeffer

“Eric Metaxas tells Bonhoeffer's story with passion and theological sophistication.” The Wall Street Journal

“A captivating and inspiring read from start to finish . . . Buy it. This book could change your life.” —James N. Lane, founder of the New Canaan Society and former general partner, Goldman, Sachs & Co.

“Eric Metaxas has written the kind of extraordinary book that not only brings Dietrich Bonhoeffer, his times and his witness vividly alive, but also leaves us yearning to find the same moral character in ourselves.  No biographer can achieve anything higher.Archbishop Charles Chaput
“Metaxas’ Bonhoeffer: Pastor, Martyr, Prophet, Spy is a modern-day classic that should be on ‘best of’ lists for the decade.” —Relevant Magazine

“[A]n electrifying account of one man’s stand against tyranny.” —Human Events

Kirkus Reviews
God blesses America, the author contends.Admitting that "the idea that God had chosen this nation for great things does not sit comfortably with modern sensibilities," Metaxas (Lecturer at Large/The King's Coll.; Seven Women: And the Secret of Their Greatness, 2015, etc.) nevertheless makes a faith-based argument for American exceptionalism. He believes that the Founding Fathers incorporated into the Constitution the Golden Triangle of Freedom: "freedom requires virtue; virtue requires faith; and faith requires freedom," an idea articulated by British social critic Os Guiness. Metaxas exhorts Americans today to revitalize freedom by behaving virtuously, insisting on virtuous leaders, and recognizing the significance of Judeo-Christian religion in the nation's identity and destiny. "There are certain populations in Europe whose unbelief is only equaled by their ignorance and debasement," writes the author, "while in America, one of the freest and most enlightened nations in the world, the people fulfill with fervor all the outward duties of religion." Metaxas is convinced that God has played "a central role" in America's history." "What we have are gifts from God," he writes, "intended for us to steward in such a way as to bless as many people as possible." Americans, therefore, must take up God's mission to share democratic ideals with the whole world. Among the historic events that he believes God influenced was the writing of the Constitution, in which the Fathers conceded, "the finger of the Almighty might indeed have been involved." Acknowledging that the nation has not always acted virtuously, the author encourages citizens to celebrate love of country through the arts (he cites the movie Mr. Smith Goes to Washington as both critical and inspiring); rituals (celebrating Flag Day); and memorizing poetry, such as "Paul Revere's Ride." A controversial view of America's past and future that will appeal to Christian readers.

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Penguin Publishing Group
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5.40(w) x 8.40(h) x 1.30(d)

Meet the Author

Eric Metaxas is the #1 New York Times bestselling author of Bonhoeffer: Pastor, Martyr, Prophet, Spy; Amazing Grace: William Wilberforce and the Heroic Campaign to End Slavery; and Miracles. His books have been translated into more than twenty languages. His writing has appeared in The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, and The New Yorker, and Metaxas has appeared as a cultural commentator on CNN, the Fox News Channel, and MSNBC. He is the host of The Eric Metaxas Show, a nationally syndicated daily radio show. Metaxas is also the founder and host of Socrates in the City, the acclaimed series of conversations on "life, God, and other small topics," featuring Malcolm Gladwell, Dr. Francis Collins, and N.T. Wright, among many others. He is a senior fellow and lecturer at large at the King's College in New York City, where he lives with his wife and daughter.

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If You Can Keep It: The Forgotten Promise of American Liberty 4.9 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 9 reviews.
Anonymous 18 days ago
ThePatriotPrinciple 7 months ago
This last week I had the pleasure of reading If You Can Keep It, the latest book from renowned author Eric Metaxas. Metaxas is a #1 New York Times best-selling author, best known for biographies of such greats as Dietrich Bonhoeffer and William Wilberforce. An acclaimed speaker and cultural commentator, he is also the host of a syndicated daily radio show, The Eric Metaxas Show. In this latest book, he examines the fundamentals of American liberty, offering a critique and recommendations on how “we the people” can safeguard this precious gift. If You Can Keep It is a fantastically penned call-to-arms for the American people, and is a must-read for all who fancy themselves patriots. As I write this conclusion, the morning of July 4th, my appreciation of this day is far richer for having read Eric Metaxas’ book. What I appreciate most is the scope of topics covered in such a short volume (258 pages). To touch on the puritan settlers of the New World, the Great Awakening, the creation of the Constitution, American heroes, Abraham Lincoln, and admonishments for modern living is a lofty goal. Metaxas has done so admirably and sufficiently for most readers. By synthesizing this array of subjects around the love for and preservation of our country, If You Can Keep It provides a broad look at the subject for those wanting a small book and, at the same time, works as a springboard for those wishing to study further into any of its many subjects. I highly recommend it to all Americans, particularly those of us who have children, as we are training up the next generation who must hear the promise of American liberty and be challenged to see if they can keep it.
AnnaLeBaron 7 months ago
Eric Metaxas, "If You Can Keep It" is a bold, patriotic reminder about what our country once was, the state it currently is in, and what it can be once again, if we each do our part to love our country. He explains the Golden Triangle of Freedom, which is: freedom requires virtue, virtue requires faith, and faith requires freedom. He reminds the reader about how the stories of the heroes of our nation inspire others to greatness and warns us about abandoning the "vital tradition of venerating heroes". He makes a case for loving America, an idea that is increasingly backward, and even offensive to some because of certain historical realities, which he enumerates. Heroism and ignominy are both a part of the historical record. We must rejoice and be inspired by the former, and repent of of the latter. "For a nation is a partnership between the people who have died, the people who are alive now, and the people who have not yet been born." - Edmund Burke "We are a great country and our song has not yet been sung." - Daniel Hannan, speaking of Great Britain, but that can also be said about America. I received an Advance Reader Copy in exchange for my honest review.
Tangen 8 months ago
This book eloquently reminds us of what our country has been and gives hope that we, as a people, could regain and practice the ideals that once characterized America. There is more than a little religiosity, but it remains a sound piece of encouragement in these or any other times, as demonstrated by the variety of sources quoted. You won't be sorry that you read this one. Won in a Giveaway.
Celebrate 9 months ago
This is an important book to read now. Now. I was raised to understand and highly value America’s history and promise. I struggle to find strong enough words to express my current concerns for what’s going on. Eric Metaxas brilliantly reviews important people and events from our country’s past – some I was familiar with; many I was not. That’s part of what I especially enjoyed about this book. And, there are many great “quoteables” that make the ideas easy to discuss with family and friends. That’s part of the book’s power. If enough of us read it, take to heart his challenges, and share them with others, we can be a part of reason our liberties remain. Read this now. (For example, this quote from page 147 is inspiring: [People died] “for the promise of America, for the promise of who she was destined to become. That is the proper role of the heroic, to call us higher than ourselves. To call us to fight not merely for what is ours but for what should belong to everyone – for what is right.”
lahbluebonnet 9 months ago
If You Can Keep It is the book I've been waiting for to reach this generation of modern readers. Metaxas writes in a conversational style (imagine sitting down to a cup off coffee with him) while he shares the story of America as well as the background and intent behind "if you can keep it." Although full of complex ideas, it is an easy read. If You Can Keep It is even an enjoyable read because of all the heartwarming stories of real people who influenced the opportunity for us "to keep it." This book is for everybody, from student to adult. As a school teacher I've had to pull various books and resources to teach many of the same ideas presented in this one book that makes a great a starting point for a grand journey. If You Can Keep It is a must have to understand our part in keeping America as the Founding Fathers intended!
SirBobby 9 months ago
Eric Metaxas’s addresses a vital need for the hour of this country. The views that one holds of one’s own country will affect how one lives. How one lives affects how a country functions. And how a country functions determines the lives of countless others. There is no doubt that Metaxas loves the United States of America. Almost every story is told with attention to detail, but more than that, a love of the people who helped shaped this land for over two centuries. He writes with the tone of a mother who is grieving for a wayward son. He writes in the introduction, “We have a charge to keep. This book is about seeing that we understand this again—and that we keep that charge, that republic, that glorious promise.” [Eric Metaxas, If You Can Keep It: The Forgotten Promise of American Liberty (New York, Penguin: 2016), 15] His book reads as if he is sitting across from you, briefly taking sips of steaming coffee before continuing his discussion about the country he loves. He tells you of stories about many men and women who have stood firm in the face of unsurmountable difficulties, who forged ahead on uncertain and challenging roads, and who made incredibly tough decisions. From great men like Abraham Lincoln to Martin Luther King Jr., Eric Metaxas draws on an even greater idea, that of self-government. In fact, more than the individuals he addresses, Metaxas’s focus is on the basis of the greatness of this country and the wild requirements to maintain such a place. The book encourages the reeducation of Americans, whether they are Jewish or Muslim, whether agnostic of atheist. He draws on personal experience and history from America to help create a hunger for the rich diversity that is the United States. One drawback is the lack of citations. There are only eight notes, and of those only four are citations. If one is familiar with the writings of Metaxas, particularly of his historical biographies, one may feel disappointed. However, it is more of a manifesto for a revival of love for America. So it suits his purpose to provide a more readable and less dense work. Eric Metaxas is a Christian, so it should not come as a surprise that his work is filled with Scripture and references to accounts of the life of Jesus. For some this may be an issue, particularly to those who tend to hold negative views of religion. But it is written from a neighborly perspective, and not as one who is simply speaking to one to make a proselyte. If you would like to know more about America, this is a great start. Addressing everything from our beauty to our warts, Metaxas presents a magnificent view of the United States. If you have lived in this country for long, then it is more than likely that you have ill-feelings toward this nation. Metaxas’s work is a wonderful reminder of the genesis of America, a birds-eye view of arguably the greatest nation in the history of civilization.
Stan_S 9 months ago
I was provided a copy of the book in return for reading and my honest review. I have read the book now and this is my review. In “If You Can Keep It” by Eric Metaxas we are reminded the responsibility for keeping our government in check and ensuring they are not abusing their power and functioning as it should resides with “We The People.” The government we have is the government we deserve. So if you are not happy with how the government is “working” it is our responsibility as “we the people” to change it. You may have heard this before. I was taught this in Civics class in high school but I am not sure it is being taught in many schools today or over the past several years. The author supports his case very well with stories from our country’s history, some you probably have heard but some you probably haven’t. One of those is the story of Cincinnatus and his similarities to George Washington. This was one I had not heard before. These stories are not being shared as they once were and because of this we are losing our heritage and on our way to becoming America In Name Only. If we the people do not take our responsibilities to “keep it” the America we once knew will cease to exist. A few more quotes from the book and some of my thoughts… “In 1776, a nation was formed in a way that a nation had never been formed. It was something entirely new: the nation as idea...and the idea in which they believed was, in a word, liberty…So what is the secret of our success? You might simply call it the idea of American liberty, which might also simply be called self-government.” Alexis de Tocqueville said, “Liberty cannot be established without morality, nor without faith.” Os Guinness built on this when he described what is known as the Golden Triangle of Freedom which says, “Freedom requires virtue; virtue requires faith; faith requires freedom. If any one of the three legs of the triangle is removed, the whole structure ceases to exist.” If you do choose to add this book to your collection you will learn about William Wilberforce, George Whitefield, John and Charles Wesley and the beginning of the Methodist movement, and The Miracle of Squanto too. You will also learn about why Abraham Lincoln thought America was the “almost chosen people” and why he “felt that America had been called by God to fulfill a role and to perform a duty for the rest of the world.” If we the people do not cultivate and pass down our love for America to those that will follow us we WILL become America in name only. In much the same way we cannot love others individually unless we love ourselves, we, as America, cannot love others outside our borders unless we genuinely love America. If you enjoy history and want to be challenged and maybe learn something new get your copy of “If You Can Keep It” today and rekindle your love for America and then pass it on!
CEThornton 9 months ago
Important and informative book that reminds us not only how the ideas behind the concept of America came to exist, but why they worked for so long, and also, since we have forgotten, how they worked, what the original concepts were, without glossing over the ugliest mistakes in our history. A must-read for everyone and anyone who wants to make our country and our world better.