"Neil Baldwin enriches our understanding of America, and the part we might - indeed must - play in living its animating ideals. He identifies ten ideals that we think of as quintessentially American, and traces their origination in ten compelling individuals. He endows political bloviation, rhetoric and common slogans with the beating heart of human aspiration beset by doubt, challenged by circumstance, and, withal, renewed by the people in trials beyond the imagination of the founding fathers."- Harold Evans, author of THEY MADE AMERICA
"This terrific book is the most up-to-the minute, if not valuable, book that Neil Baldwin has writtten as an historian and critic...What he has accomplished amid the relentless blather of our times in this enormously readable book is little less than a rewiring of America's moral synapses to concentrate upon the very real ideas that underlie [our culture]...This is a book for readers in desperate need of elementary re-acquaintance with the whole point of America in the first place. In a perfect world, it would be on the bedside table of every current Washington politician. "- Buffalo News - Editor's Choice
"In The American Revelation, Neil Baldwin gives us ten short, often eloquent profiles rather than a broad narrative...The most interesting chapters in Mr. Baldwin's compelling book concern lesser-known individuals of good character [for example] Carter G. Woodson (1875-1950), founder of the Association for the Study of Negro Life and History...Once, while giving a speech, Woodson noticed a sleeping child in the audience. He pointed to the boy and, as Mr. Baldwin tells us, shouted out, his voice rising, "Wake him up! Wake up that sleeping one!" He then chided the audience, telling them that they, too, were "sleeping away our rights." "- The Wall Street Journal - Editor's Choice
"A thought-provoking and thoughtful narrative of important examples of ideas that have shaped American thought, life, and our unique identity. [Baldwin believes that] in a nation that still fiercely debates the words and deeds of its founding fathers, it is important to stimulate debate about American values throughout the life of our country in order to understand what those values truly are...The perilous times in which we live demand an idealism that leads to a new definition of patriotism and national character. That critical goal begins with one citizen and reader at a time. "- Bookreporter.com
"Baldwin, a well-regarded biographer (Henry Ford and the Jews: The Mass Production of Hate) and former executive director of the National Book Foundation, here writes about ten important, if not necessarily well-known, individual who promoted enduring ideals that became part of America's national identity. The author links these ideals and their endorsers to form a rich tapestry of the nation's highest principles, often strived for but imperfectly attained. Included are mini-biographies and gracefully written summaries of the forging of the national motto E pluribus unum by Pierre-Eugene du Simitière; newspaper editor John O'Sullivan's call for America to fulfill its manifest destiny; Jane Addams's pioneering advocacy of women's rights and her tireless work in behalf of the poor; Israel Zangwill's popular 1908 play, The Melting Plot, which portrays America as the land of opportunity for immigrants; and Carter Woodson's scholarly investigations, which forged the academic discipline of African American history. This illuminating work shows that America has a great deal of which to be proud but much to do to complete the agendas set forth by these ten remarkable people. Highly recommended for public libraries."- Library Journal **Starred Review**
"Questions and controversies regarding values and morality continue to dominate headlines and shape debate regarding public policy...The American Revelation is an incisive, detailed and thoughtful look at several key figures in the nation's evolution, neither omitting their flaws nor overstating their importance."- Nashville City Paper
"Wonderfully readable and enlightening...A grand contribution to American letters and an inspiring examination of the ideals that have grown to inform our national identity and the figures who set the course...Neil Baldwin certainly knows how to grab readers into a story. This historical account doubles as a psychological biography of the U.S. itself."- Horace Mann Magazine
"Does America have a set of shared values? Perhaps not, writes pop historian Neil Baldwin, in a time when 'the pulse of the nation often sounds as if it is emanating from two separate heartbeats.'
Hearts in red states and blue will probably be quickened by at least a couple of the ten tropes that Baldwin identifies as shared, galvanizing, unifying beliefs - but which of them? Emersonian self-reliance? The dissenters' city on a hill? A neoconservative might decry as impossibly Bolshevik Thomas Paine's repudiation of monarchy as the most dispensable of all the world's political institutions. A liberal might recoil from John L. O'Sullivan's notion of manifest destiny, even though its original formulation was benign and even progressive on its face. Historians might take umbrage at Carter Woodson's charge that African-Americans, though central to the history of the nation, have been systematically ignored, even in the work 'of such Progressive historians as Frederick Jackson Turner, V.L. Parrington, and Charles and Mary Beard.' And garden-variety isolationists will hop up and down over Baldwin's inclusion of George C. Marshall and the plan that bears his name as expressive of any particular American ideal, particularly if it boils down to helping the French.
All that said, Baldwin conjures of a neat trick: in identifying the ten ideals that contain certain contradictory aspects and even pointed dilemmas, he emphasizes the very point that Americans have forged a delicate union, even when they do not necessarily agree with each other on every matter of discussion - an idea that could stand sturdier legs in a time of division and exclusion.
One of Baldwin's exemplary idealists, the playwright Israel Zangwill, coiner of the image of America as a melting pot, did a nice job, after all, of urging that the nation was 'the promised land in which the best human ideals shall ultimately find solution.' And who could disagree? Well...
A readable exercise in civics, and surely more inclusive than, say, William Bennett's or Lynne Cheney's published views on what those ideals might be."- Kirkus
"What is an American? What do Americans believe? Why do we act as we do? At a time when much of the world, and even we ourselves, may not always be sure, Neil Baldwin, in this fascinating study, draws an illuminating portrait of the people and ideals that have guided our national destiny."- Ronald Steel, National Book Award winner, author of WALTER LIPPMANN AND THE AMERICAN CENTURY
"THE AMERICAN REVELATION is a revelation. Of Neil Baldwin's ten iconic lives, the incisive profile of the pioneering historian Carter Woodson stands out as a small masterpiece in the service of American exceptionalism at its best."- David Levering Lewis, Pulitzer Prize winner, author of W. E. B. DU BOIS
"This is history at its best - a stirring, passionate account of ten Americans whose idealism helped shape our nation. For a country on the verge of a new, increasingly divisive era, THE AMERICAN REVELATION comes just in the nick of time."- Nathaniel Philbrick, National Book Award winner, author of IN THE HEART OF THE SEA
"At a time when there is a lot of uninformed talk about American values, it's important to reach back and understand what those values truly are. Neil Baldwin does it in this smart and thoughtful narrative."- Walter Isaacson, author of BENJAMIN FRANKLIN, AN AMERICAN LIFE
"Historian Neil Baldwin illuminates the precepts that undergird the American Dream in The American Revelation. Hoping to counter the country's current divided state, Baldwin spotlights such ideas as self-reliance and manifest destiny as he tells readers about the men who coined them."- Toledo Blade (National syndication) - Summer Reading - Suggestions For Your Beach Bag
"Ideals are the subject of Neil Baldwin's fine book, The American Revelation. In ten engaging and well-written individual portraits, Baldwin uses representative figures to explore important ideals that have "shaped our country..."[The life of General George Marshall] shows that one can reject arrogant imperialism without abandoning idealism altogether for the pursuit of narrow national self-interest. Maybe then flying the flag could become a symbol for "the things the world really needs" rather than just the things that America wants."- Washington Post Sunday Book World
""The American Revelation sets itself an enormous task...defining ten ideals that describe an essential American character...Though Mr. Baldwin does not say it in so many words, his book implies to me that in our most recent years, we may have strayed from the hard-won principles which have been a beacon to the world." "- The Cincinnati Post
"In his new book, Neil Baldwin focuses on individuals who developed and promulgated ideas that helped shape the American ideal. These profiles, of people like newspaper editor John L. O'Sullivan (who coined the term "Manifest Destiny") and British playwright Israel Zangwill (who popularized the notion of the American "Melting Pot"), illuminate the galvanizing beliefs that unify Americans -- even as red and blue states battle over their interpretation. "- Elizabeth Taylor, Literary Editor, The Chicago Tribune - "Chat Room"/BEST OF 2005
"Americans have a fresh reminder of the Marshall Plan's unique role in world affairs in a new book by historian Neil Baldwin, who ends The American Revelation with a stirring tribute to the Plan. He argues that the Marshall Plan conclusively ended any American retreat into isolationism and that the United States thereby acknowledged its continuing obligations as a world superpower -- not just in times of war, but in those times when the gift of American resources could lift countries from desperation and help prevent war."- The Baton Rouge Advocate (Editorial), Marshall Plan Still Looms Large
"The social and historical contexts [of the ten ideals] are explored in enthusiastic detail, turning each chapter into a combination biography, history, and political lesson. Baldwin provides ample opportunity for the reader to seek comparisons between the world of these historical documents and their own modern situation...The American Revelation is an invitation to think -- about the meaning of patriotism, democracy, and America itself. -- Sarah Meador"- Curled Up With a Good Book - www.curledup.com
""The distractions that students experience from their media-charged environment and rote-learning required by state-mandated tests are antithetical to learning the ideas that undergird our great democracy. Gifted students must study exceptional historians who have a comprehensive understanding of the scope of our nation's origin and development...skilled, eloquent mentors to guide them in their academic studies...What is most impressive is Neil Baldwin's talent for writing clear explanations in an exciting prose style." "- Gifted Education Quarterly News-Page, XV.1, October-November, 2005
"An eloquent reminder of some of the mystic chords of American memory is provided by acclaimed historian Neil Baldwin in The American Revelation, which recounts episodes in which remarkable individuals put forward ideals with the power to motivate...In telling his tales, Baldwin shows the American genius for combining individualism and public spirit. "- Michael Potemra in The National Review