Book Reviews

13 outubro, 2007

146) O mundo anglo-saxao e suas realizacoes

The Special Relationship
These books illuminate the shared heritage of America and Britain.
The Wall Street Journal, Saturday, October 13, 2007

1. "Albion's Seed" by David Hackett Fischer (Oxford, 1989).
Colonial Americans didn't come from just anywhere; they came, David Hackett Fischer tells us in "Albion's Seed," from particular parts of the British Isles--New Englanders from East Anglia, Virginians from Wessex, Pennsylvanians from the North Midlands, Appalachians from the Scottish border country and Northern Ireland. They brought with them folkways--religious beliefs, political tendencies and even dietary habits--that have remained ingrained in these regions. With wide-ranging scholarship, this fascinating book makes it clear that we have not one but several British heritages. That they shared a skepticism toward central authority "has created a culture of freedom which is more open and expansive than any unitary tradition alone could possibly be."

2. "Freedom Just Around the Corner" by Walter, McDougall (HarperCollins, 2004).
This first volume of a history of America from its colonial beginnings skillfully interweaves developments in Britain with those in the North American colonies. Stressing the importance of religion in the formation of the nation's character, McDougall shows how the First Great Awakening of the 1740s was a transatlantic movement, with George Whitefield preaching in Georgia, Philadelphia (with Benjamin Franklin as his publicist) and New England, as well as in Scotland, Ireland and Whitefield's native England. Methodism and the Masonic Order were also imports from England, as McDougall examines in detail. He leaves off in 1828 with Charles Carroll of Carrollton, the last surviving signer of the Declaration of Independence, breaking ground for the Baltimore & Ohio Railroad--and with the reader eager for the next volume.

3. "Voyagers to the West" by Bernard Bailyn (Random House, 1986).
In riveting detail, Bernard Bailyn describes the large and often forced migrations of Britons to America in the early 1770s. You can almost feel the cold, dank air as Highland Scots stand waiting for the ships that will take them across the sea. This rush of immigration stocked the Appalachian Mountains with Scots and Scots-Irish, the people who would follow their heroes west--Andrew Jackson to Tennessee, Sam Houston to Texas--and who would fiercely fight America's wars. With its excellent maps, tables and illustrations, "Voyagers to the West" is a work of scholarship that is also a handsome piece of craftsmanship.

4. "The Anglosphere Challenge" by James C. Bennett (Rowman & Littlefield, 2004).
James C. Bennett coined the term "Anglosphere" to describe countries where English is the native language or (as in India) serves as a lingua franca for the well educated. But language is not all that America, Britain, Ireland, Canada, Australia, New Zealand and other places have in common. Bennett argues that the peculiar island history of England produced a set of institutions that other advanced nations in Europe and Asia lacked--the common law, respect for private property, continuous representative government, a culture that nurtures civil society and entrepreneurial enterprise. It is thus no accident that the Anglosphere has excelled in innovation and economic growth and, Bennett believes, will continue to do so.

5. "A History of the English-Speaking Peoples Since 1900" by Andrew Roberts (HarperCollins, 2007).
Andrew Roberts has written excellent biographies of the Marquis of Salisbury (1830-1903) and the Earl of Halifax (1881-1959), but after 9/11 he decided to take up the task of completing the multivolume history of the English-speaking peoples where Winston Churchill left off, at the beginning of the 20th century. The result is an idiosyncratic history reflecting Roberts's interests--and his opinions. He excoriates Lord Mountbatten, the viceroy of India, whose partition of India led to the deaths of millions and produced a new country, Pakistan, that has proved troublesome to this day. But Roberts remains optimistic. The English-speaking peoples, after dithering, met the challenges of Kaiserism, Nazism and communism--and he predicts that they will, even if now dithering, meet the challenge of Islamist terrorism too.

Mr. Barone is a resident scholar at the American Enterprise Institute and a senior writer at U.S. News & World Report.