Making Patriots / Edition 1by Walter Berns
Pub. Date: 10/28/2002
Publisher: University of Chicago Press
Although Samuel Johnson once remarked that "patriotism is the last refuge of scoundrels," over the course of the history of the United States we have seen our share of heroes: patriots who have willingly put their lives at risk for this country and, especially, its principles. And this is even more remarkable given that the United States is a country
Although Samuel Johnson once remarked that "patriotism is the last refuge of scoundrels," over the course of the history of the United States we have seen our share of heroes: patriots who have willingly put their lives at risk for this country and, especially, its principles. And this is even more remarkable given that the United States is a country founded on the principles of equality and democracy that encourage individuality and autonomy far more readily than public spiritedness and self-sacrifice.
Walter Berns's Making Patriots is a pithy and provocative essay on precisely this paradox. How is patriotism inculcated in a system that, some argue, is founded on self-interest? Expertly and intelligibly guiding the reader through the history and philosophy of patriotism in a republic, from the ancient Greeks through contemporary life, Berns considers the unique nature of patriotism in the United States and its precarious state. And he argues that while both public education and the influence of religion once helped to foster a public-minded citizenry, the very idea of patriotism is currently under attack.
Berns finds the best answers to his questions in the thought and words of Abraham Lincoln, who understood perhaps better than anyone what the principles of democracy meant and what price adhering to them may exact. The graves at Arlington and Gettysburg and Omaha Beach in Normandy bear witness to the fact that self-interested individuals can become patriots, and Making Patriots is a compelling exploration of how this was done and how it might be again.
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Table of Contents
1. Classical Patriotism, Especially the Spartan
2. God before Country?
3. Commerce and Country
4. Educating Young Patriots
5. Lincoln, Patriotism's Poet
6. "What Country Have I?"
7. The Patriot's Flag
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
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I read this book years ago when it was first published. I thought it was exceptionally moving and insightful. It is a great gift for the patriots in your life. Berns does a great job explaining the admirable uniqueness of the U.S.A. Specifically we were the first country founded on an ideal, a noble ideal, of inalienable rights to freedom. He notes that in practice we fell short (slavery), but this was the first great compromise that allowed the United States to be born in the first place. The Civil War was our correction and inevitable blood payment for falling short of the founding ideals. The literary professional reviews are clearly left wing biased as usual, but more blatantly because Mr Berns is an AEI scholar and therefore not to be trusted by 'enlightened' liberals who, of course, know that America is the root of all evil.