What Is America?: A Short History of the New World Order
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From the award-winning, #1 bestselling author of A Short History of Progress comes another surprising, frightening and essential book.
The USA is now the world’s lone superpower, whose deeds could make or break this century. For better and worse, America has Americanized the world. How did a marginal frontier society, in a mere two centuries, become the de facto ruler of the world? Why do America’s great achievements in democracy, prosperity and civil rights now seem threatened by forces within itself?
Brimming with insight into history and human behaviour, and written in Wright’s captivating style, What Is America? shows how this came to pass; how the United States, which regards itself as the most modern country on earth, is also deeply archaic, a stronghold not only of religious fundamentalism but of “modern” beliefs in limitless progress and a universal mission that have fallen under suspicion elsewhere in the west, a rethinking driven by two World Wars and the reckless looting of our planet.
A fresh, passionate look at the past and future of the world’s most powerful nation, What Is America? will reframe the debate about our neighbour and ourselves.
deported him.63 The greatest Puritan fears, however, lay in the spiritual realm. In 1642 a young man named Thomas Granger was caught having sex with a horse, admitting further pleasures with “a cow, two goats, five sheep, two calves and a turkey.” The judges wanted to know whether he had acquired his tastes in Old England or New—fearing the latter, because “Satan hath more power in these heathen lands.”64 Relieved to learn that Granger’s habits hailed from the mother country, they executed him
Puritan wrath for his wild night, Stone was unwise enough to kidnap some Connecticut Indians, who broke free and killed him. Few mourned his passing until a more respectable Englishman was slain on Block Island two years later. Again, this murder was probably not the Pequots’ work. But Massachusetts used both killings as an excuse to crush the Pequot nation before it could recover from the pox. By some accounts, the English slaughtered the Block Islanders and sold the survivors into slavery;
fry. One of the richest prizes on the frontier was the Ohio Country to the west of Pennsylvania and Virginia, the site of many ancient temple mounds.38 As far back as 1747, the Washington family and other wealthy Virginians had formed the Ohio Land Company to penetrate the region, deal in furs and speculate in any Indian property they could alienate.39 The young George Washington, who had trained as a surveyor, joined this and other ventures beyond the Blue Ridge Mountains—land unceded by its
. . . covet and are ready to grasp at all that lies upon their borders, and are ambitious of extending their empire from sea to sea. —William Sturgis, 18451 The relation now existing in the slave-holding States . . . is, instead of an evil, a good—a positive good. —Senator John C. Calhoun, 18472 Man is a money-making animal, which propensity too often interferes with his benevolence. —Herman Melville, 18513 O nce the Indians were gone, the land between the Appalachians and the Mississippi
American expansion and the emerging world order.89 158 Wh at I s A m e r ic a ? It haunts America just as the Great War haunts Europe, and for similar reasons: it was not a fight against an outlandish foe who could be demonized and dropped in the oubliette of history; rather, it was between kin, sometimes literally. And its impact on society was immense. More than six hundred thousand soldiers died: ten times the number who fell in Vietnam and seventy times more when adjusted for