FEATURED BOOK: "THE PATRIOT'S HANDBOOK", EDITED BY GEORGE GRANT
REVIEW BY: W.J. RAYMENT
Anthologies of the patriotic writings of our greatest statesmen and authors were at one time a part of every American's personal library. These well-thumbed volumes contained all the information vital to good citizenship, the U.S. Constitution, speeches and articles written by the Founding Fathers, biographies of all the President's and the patriotic poetry that so ably reflected the citizen's feeling for his country.
Collections such as these seem to have faded into the American past, leaving a great void in the education of the modern citizen. "The Patriot's Handbook: A Citizenship Primer for a New Generation of Americans" moves in to fill the void. This is a quality work. With selections from Jefferson, Washington, Madison, Lincoln, Ronald Reagan and others, the editor, George Grant could hardly go wrong.
The selection of poetry is one that will please enthusiasts, with old standards such as "Paul Revere's Ride", by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow and all the verses to the "Star Spangled Banner" by Francis Scott Key. It also contains "John Burns of Gettysburg", a humorous poem about an old Pennsylvania Farmer who fought in the Union ranks when Robert E. Lee and his Confederate Army over-ran his homestead. This work was recently featured in Military History Quarterly. There is also inspiring poetry, once popular, that is seldom seen in today's anti-patriotic environment.
Mr. Grant's collection of biographies of the Presidents begins with 15 men who are forgotten in the annals of American History, men who became Presidents of the United States before the acceptance of the Constitution. (They were elected under the Articles of Confederation, etc.) These include such luminaries as John Hancock and Henry Laurens (who had been held prisoner by the British during the Revolution and was finally released in a dramatic exchange for Lord Cornwallis). The biographies included in this volume are short, concise and loaded with interesting tid bits.
Mr. Grant includes the important founding documents that are seldom reviewed today, The Articles of Confederation, The Constitution of the Confederate States and the Northwest Ordinance. These documents form some of the basis of American legal and constitutional thought. The Bill of Rights and all of the Amendments to the Constitution receive their due.
The "Handbook" is broken up into four sections. It covers the founding of the country from The Viking's discoveries and Columbus's Voyages, through the arrival of the Pilgrims and runs up to the Revolutionary Period. The second section is called, "An Experiment in Liberty". It reviews the founding of the American Government. The third section, "Manifest Destiny" carries the reader through the Civil War. The final section, "The American Dream" covers modern times, with selections from H. L. Mencken, Woodrow Wilson, George C. Marshall and more.
Mr. Grant's selections for the final section are interesting. He has shown that he is not afraid of controversy by including the text of the majority opinion in Roe v. Wade, the supreme court decision that legalized abortion. His inclusion of another supreme court case, Brown v. The Board of Education demonstrates the prominent role judicial activism has taken in the formation of modern America. His final selection is the Lincoln Day speech of Alan Keyes that seems to sum up the tenor and thrust of this book:
"At every point in our history when we have had the choice between right and wrong, in the end we have chosen what is right. For that we can certainly be grateful. I believe we shall do it again. I believe we shall do it again because deep down we know that the real heroes in America are those who, in their families and in their daily lives, respect the truth that we must meet the obligations and sacrifices of freedom before we claim its privileges and benefits. Deep down we know that come what may--even if it means that we must sacrifice in our personal lives--we have to stand where our Founders stood: on the belief that no one has the right to do what is wrong, that if we build self-government on a true adherence to the principles of justice, then we shall hold up a beacon of right and hope for all of humankind to understand the true destiny of mankind."
This is a work that should not merely sit on the shelf of every American Citizen, it should be taken up and studied. Thumb prints and dog ears are the badges of a vital work and "The Patriot's Handbook" deserves a breast full.
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