Friday, May 22, 2009

American Exceptionalism - NBIH

In many nations people have the idea their nation is special and quite a few will not be especially modest in conversation about it. The podcast New Books In History takes on this trait where the United States is concerned. Guest Godfrey Hodgson wrote a book about American Exceptionalism and host Marshall Poe interviews him.

Poe makes sure Hodgson systematically takes on the idea and splits it up in 'American Messianism', the ideology that America is special and the factual question: whether America has a significantly different history from other nations and stands out on exceptional values (freedom and democracy) and achievements (winning all world wars, one, two and three).

As can be expected Hodgson attempts to counter these two ideas extensively and while this may seem annoying for the average American listener (I guess non-Americans will feel rather pleased, but their turn will come one day as well), the interview is actually very worthwhile and entertaining. Neither Poe nor Hodgson really bash the country, should you be afraid.

More NBIH:
The Great War in short,
How Rome Fell,
Glancing over the backlog,
Jews in the Russian army,
Who will write our history?.
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