Myths America Lives By / Edition 1

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Richard T. Hughes argues that the Innocent Nation myth prevented many Americans from understanding, or even discussing, the complex motivations of the 9/11 terrorists. Myths America Lives By identifies five key myths that lie at the heart of the American experience -- the myths of the Chosen Nation, of Nature's Nation, of the Christian Nation, of the Millennial Nation, and of the Innocent Nation. Drawing on a range of dissenting voices, Hughes shows that by canonizing these seemingly harmless myths of national identity as absolute truths, America risks undermining the sweepingly egalitarian promise of the Declaration of Independence.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780252028601
  • Publisher: University of Illinois Press
  • Publication date: 1/1/2003
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 224
  • Product dimensions: 6.32 (w) x 9.40 (h) x 0.88 (d)

Table of Contents

1 The myth of the chosen nation : the colonial period 19
2 The myth of nature's nation : the revolutionary period 45
3 The myth of the Christian nation : the early national period 66
4 The myth of the millennial nation : the early national period 91
5 The mythic dimensions of American capitalism : the gilded age 126
6 The myth of the innocent nation : the twentieth century 153
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  • Posted July 25, 2009

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    Fitting the Truth Into The Mold

    Richard Hughes work is a quick read but daunting due to its repetitious style and its logical format. Mr. Hughes tries desperately to place the American culture into his framework of myths.
    He claims that there are five myths that form the foundations of our culture which are: the Chosen People, the Nature's Nation, the Christian Nation, the Millennial Nation, and the Innocent Nation. Throughout the book he seems to be struggling to fit our nation's history into those five frames.
    He is successful to the extent of aligning the motives of the U.S. government and people throughout our various struggles, but the reader might find him/herself asking the question - 'what's the point?'
    It appears that Mr. Hughes is trying to fit the country's historical record into five categories for no other apparent reason than to fit the historical record into five categories. At best the entire book is a tautology - one that constantly repeats the purpose of its theme without actually giving us anything new.
    We all know about the influence of the Protestant Ethic, the immorality of erasing American Indian nations, the constitutional contradictions relating to minorities, the imperialistic aims of past presidential and congressional administrations, and the largely unpublished atrocities committed by many groups in our society against other groups.
    And yet he concludes that we must continue believing in these myths, but that we should do so with knowledge of their shortcomings and in a more humane manner.
    So I ask again - what's the point?

    For readers interested in this topic, I suggest they go straight to the source - Howard Zinn who does a much better job of it.

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