From the archives: 4th of July reading

I thought it might be interesting to dig into the archives and pull out some 4th of July themed books.  So here are 4 for the 4th:

–> The American Revolution: A History by Gordon S Wood

The American Revolution is no stranger to the tug and pull of partisan cheerleading posing as scholarship (not to say that some of that cheerleading isn’t accurate and worthwhile). I am sure that those with strong interest and/or knowledge in the subject would say that Gordon S. Wood has a bias and/or “a take” on many of the issues involved but he attempts in this book not to make this a moralistic story of right and wrong but instead views “how the Revolution came about, what its character was, and what its consequences were” as “the questions this brief history seeks to answer.”

In my opinion Wood gives a great overview of the historical, political, and intellectual ideas and events that make up this fascinating time in our country’s history. He does so in a way that is accessible to the average reader but that is still thought provoking and interesting.

–> The American Cause By Russell Kirk

Cover of "American Cause"
Cover of American Cause

If you were looking for a succinct and well-written primer on traditional American conservatism and the enduring values of the American Founders, you would be hard pressed to do better than The American Cause by Russell Kirk. Henry Regnery originally published this short work in 1957 during the early days of the Cold War. It was later republished in 1966 in the heart of the revolutionary 1960’s. The Intercollegiate Studies Institute has recently decided to again publish this short but timely work. Kirk scholar, and speech writer for former Michigan Governor John Engler, Gleaves Whitney has edited the volume and provided an introduction and afterword. The original work had a heavy emphasis on communism and the communist threat that was appropriate to its time. Whitney has seen to abbreviate or generalize some of the focus on communism as such.

This helps to preserve the meat of the book and to limit the distraction of dated political issues. Much discussion remains about communism as an ideology but Whitney’s editing prevents the work from being seen as merely an anti-communist polemic. The result is a book that is still very pertinent to today’s conflicts. In fact, Kirk’s succinct description of American exceptionalism remains one of the most clearly written and eloquently argued synopses of traditional conservatism around.

–> What Would the Founders Do by Richard Brookhiser

The ever brilliant Richard Brookhiser’s latest work, What Would the Founders Do?, seems well suited to be read this weekend. In WWFD Brookhiser uses his witty and urbane style to outline what the Founding Fathers might think about a variety of issues confronting us today.

If you need something to read on the beach or on the porch swing but you prefer history to the typical summer fare of thrillers or romance novels, Brookhiser would be a good choice.

–> Saratoga by John Luzador

The Battle of Saratoga – the pivotal, some say the most important, battle of the Revolutionary War.  It conjures up images of the British march through the wilds that took weeks to travel a few miles and of Benedict Arnold coming to the rescue of the Americans.  These events and many more are covered in detail in John Luzador’s Saratoga: A Military History of the Decisive Campaign of the American Revolution.

I hope all of you have a safe and wonderful 4th of July weekend!

Kevin Holtsberry
I work in communications and public affairs. I try to squeeze in as much reading as I can while still spending time with my wife and two kids (and cheering on the Pittsburgh Steelers and Michigan Wolverines during football season).

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