A Patriot’s History of the Modern World: Volume 2 (Book Review)

Published in 2013, A Patriot’s History of the Modern World: Volume 2 (PHMW2) is the continuation of a story begun in 1898.  Volume 1 (reviewed here) narrated the story of the world from a conservative American perspective from the turn of the 20th century to the end of World War 2.  Authors Larry Schweikart and Dave Dougherty pick up right when they left off, narrating the baby-boomer era from birth to the year 2012.

It’s best to see Volumes 1 and 2 as one massive work of history, and thus they are best read one after the other so as to feel the force of what has happened over the past 100+ years.  I do not have much to add by reviewing Volume 2 except to remind the interested reading that these volumes are written from a conservative, American, and unapologetic patriotic perspective.  The authors are no fans of modern political liberalism.  Whereas in the first volume the villainous duo was undoubtedly Presidents Woodrow Wilson and FDR, in the second volume the bad guys are JFK and “Barack Hussein Obama.”  It is difficult to argue with documented historical events.  They either happened or they didn’t.  But it is not so obvious to me that the “bad guys,” although they may have been guilty of many disastrous missteps, committed their “political sins” with malicious intent.

One aspect I find particularly insightful (if not a bit personally disturbing) is the vitriol reserved for President Obama and his administration.  PHMW2 can only comment on the first 4 years of Obama’s leadership.  Yet even half-way through it is clear the authors understood that controversial social engineering and profligate federal spending were gaining speed.  So much so that reading the assessment of Obama’s first term prepares the reader for a more intense second term of unilaterally implementing a liberal agenda despite a nation deeply divided along conservative and progressive lines.  Conservatives would do well to learn this lesson.  Policy and law which are implemented along simple-majority partisan lines are ripe for repeal when the simple-majority shifts and the opposing political party is in power.  Better to work through gridlock toward the venerable goal of political compromise.  That way neither side feels defeated, demoralized, and disrespected.

PHMW2 propounds the theory of American Exceptionalism to explain why the USA ascended to its position of world leadership over the course of the 1900s.  This particular flavor of American Exceptionalism does not posit that America is somehow special among nations because God chose her for greatness (e.g., ancient Israel).  Rather the argument is that four social pillars are required for any country to flourish over a relatively short period of time.  Historians argue that countries rarely exhibit all four pillars at the same time, hence America’s “exceptional” nature.  These pillars, according to the authors, are:

  • A heritage of common (as opposed to civil) law wherein the authority moved from the people upward
  • A Christian and predominantly Protestant religious tradition
  • A free-market economy
  • Property rights, especially land rights
  • PHMW2 is subtitled “From the Cold War to the Age of Entitlement: 1945-2012.”  Its thesis is that America is rapidly losing its four societal pillars that make it exceptional among the nations of world history.  Thus both Volumes 1 and 2 serve both as a historical narrative and as a prophetic warning.  As Americans and their leaders jettison these pillars, whether systematically or neglectfully, we better realize what we are throwing away and what will likely replace it.  If the reader can tolerate a little moral outrage against a few American heroes, then PHMW1 and PHMW2 will make you think about important political and cultural issues in a way you may never have considered.  Here is history outside the Politically Correct bubble.  If you consider yourself a social liberal or progressive, do yourself a favor and read these books to get a different perspective.  If you are a social conservative, these books may hone your views by connecting the dots of history and provide you a robust and coherent narrative of the modern world.


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