BOOK REVIEW ( and minor rant)
I have been getting up at 4:30 am the past few days to knock off Rick Atkinson’s new book on the Revolutionary War. As a history buff, I believe the greatest civic crisis we face in America and the West is the politicization of history. This leads to an abysmal ignorance of past events and thus no torch to light the path of reason. History is but a by-product of human nature, which never changes. Men lust for power. Every institution created by man will become corrupt, even the church, unless checked. What Lord Acton said about the corrupting influences of power is as true today as it has always been. Modern day sophists preach false gospels. The truth about solving societal ills lies in an understanding of the past. ( which is why I went to the 2 A rally on Monday as history speaks volumes about the necessity of an armed citizenry guarding against the natural inclination of government to abuse its citizens).
All the players on the national scene today were around in 1775. There were Tories who made their living off of government largess, and Patriots who wanted the government out of their business. As there are today, there were cheats, hucksters, charlatans, crony capitalists and swindlers. A fratricidal conflict spun into a brutal war between the two most enlightened peoples in the world. I am almost moved to tears as I read about American patriots, and the hardships they endured, freezing cold, sickness, hard labor and of course bullets and bayonets. Sure, there were deserters, even traitors, but there were also a vast multitude of high minded men filled with the spirit of liberty who persevered through unimaginable hardships. All of it makes me want to just scream, SHUT THE HELL UP AND QUIT BELLYACHING AND WHINING. Who among us today would endure such sacrifices? How many of the historically illiterate would even understand the philosophical underpinnings of our founding, much less appreciate the great gifts these men bestowed upon subsequent generations? Does anyone appreciate what we have and why we have it? In the words of Thomas Hobbes, for 6,000 years of human history,”life was solitary, poor, nasty, brutish and short.” It is still this way in much of the world, but here in America we have luxuries and freedoms nobody could have ever dreamed were possible just a generation or two ago. Yet, we are always just a generation away from being slaves to a tyrannical government.
I recommend this book.It is extremely well written, researched and lively. It may not move you like it did me, but I hope those who endeavor to read it will come away with an understanding of the greatness of our founding and an appreciation for those who made it possible. (On a personal note, as I was on hold today, I googled my great, great, great, great grandfather, Sylvanus Smith, who was an officer in the Massachusetts militia and answered the call at Lexington and Concord. Later he became an officer in the Continental Army and was at Bunker Hill, Valley Forge and was with Washington at Yorktown. Away from his family for nearly 9 years. An auction house in Maine was selling his commission into the Continental Army, signed by John Hancock. See the pic above. MY RANT IS OVER, for now….
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