American foreign policy or national securityrnaims. Yet the assimilation of diversernpopulations, to the extent that it reallyrnoccurred, made America and itsrnpeople what they are today, as Johnsonrnpoints out. “I do not acknowledge thernexistence of hyphenated Americans, orrnNative Americans or any other qualifiedrnkind,” he writes. “They are all Americansrnto me: black, white, red, brown, yellow,rnthrown together by fate in thatrnswirling maelstrom of history which hasrnproduced the most remarkable peoplernthe world has ever seen.” The problemrnhere is that Johnson’s spirit of tolerant acceptancernis completely at odds with thernAmerican political and cultural elite’srndetermination to impose policies exacerbatingrnracial, ethnic, and religious tensionsrnin the name of cultural diversity, asrnwell as, increasingly, with the attitude ofrnthe new Americans themselves.rnI ohnson is ruthless in his condemna-rn/ tion of political correctness and its alliedrnsins. And he gives no quarter in condemningrnorganized religion’s surrender,rnin the face of a frontal assault on thernpart of government and the courts, ofrnits moral authority. Still, a recurringrn(touchingly naive) theme throughout hisrnlong narrahve is that, our present difficultiesrnof nationhood notwithstanding,rnAmerican history has been always thus:rnan epic battle in which the forces of goodrnovercome the forces of evil, which not byrncoincidence arise—usually—from within,rnhi Johnson’s view, the United Statesrnachieved its remarkable accomplishmentsrnnot because it was the country’srndestiny to do so but because it was a workrnin progress by a people who were left tornsolve their own, often brutally difficultrnproblems in a way that would benefit therngreatest number of them in the end.rnJohnson describes effectively America’srnlong collision course in respect ofrnchattel slavery, and how the subject stillrntugs at the nation’s conscience today. Hernis even better on the mistreatment of thernindigenous Indian tribes which, contraryrnto myth, belongs not to the period of therncountry’s western expansion, but itsrnsoutheastern push in the early days of independence.rnHere, an entire region wasrnopened to European settlement—andrnthe expansion of the Peculiar Institutionrn—by means of what we now callrn”ethnic cleansing”: the forced resettlementrnof entire Indian nations to thernsparse and untamed West. After this, thernIndian question did not need to be dealtrnwith again until decades later when, thernissue of slavery having been settled inrnblood and the Union preserved, a restlessrnpopulation and new European immigrantsrnsought greener pastures. Byrnthen —as now—the Trail of Tears wasrnlargely forgotten. The Western tribes, byrncontrast, even though many had also tornendure relocation or sign treaties forcingrnthem onto reservations, eventually wonrnrecognifion of their sovereignty.rnReaders of Johnson’s previous works,rnincluding Modern Times: The WorldrnFrom the Twenties to the Nineties andrnThe Birth of the Modem: World Society,rn1815-1830, will easily recognize variationsrnon themes first raised in thosernbooks. In spite of this elaboration, however,rnand the use of material first researchedrnfor the author’s histories ofrnChristianity and the Jews, there remainsrnmuch to harvest. Even at more thanrn1,000 pages, A History of the AmericanrnPeople takes too many shortcuts, particularlyrnwhen Johnson gets to those definitivernpoints in the development of America’srnnationhood: the Civil War, andrnWorld War I and II. Concerning thernCivil War especially I find that a shame.rnA tremendous body of literature exists onrnthe complexities leading up to that horrificrnconflict, and regarding it: to rushrnthrough it all seems a waste of this author’srnconsiderable talents and energies.rnThe same can be said of Johnson’s treatmentrnof World War II and its aftermath,rnwhich also seems incomplete and unfulfilled.rnThe richness of the book, however, isrnto be found in the interpretation of everydayrnevents that shaped the nation’srncharacter and destiny. Johnson defendsrnsome of the Robber Barons (most ofrnwhom ended up donating a good deal ofrntheir fortunes to the American people inrnthe form of foundations, libraries, and artrngalleries, and their estates preserved asrnpart of the nation’s historic trust), butrnwhat he really celebrates is the scopernAmerica once gave its citizens for titanicrnendeavor and achievement. He raisesrnthe need to reinterpret the administrationsrnof “failed” presidencies, such asrnthose of Warren Harding and CalvinrnCoolidge, not because the assessments ofrnthem have been so bleak but becausernthey were made so wrongly, with deliberaternintent. (The debunking of thernCamelot myth surrounding the administrationrnof John F. Kennedy is a case ofrnJohnson applying his formula in reverse,rnto even more convincing effect.) ForrnJohnson, America really has been a landrnof opportunity—for exploiters, conrnartists, and other assorted hucksters andrnevildoers of the type Mark Twain capturedrnso perfectly, as well as for honestrnhardworking men, the two groups combiningrnto create not just a country but arnhistory of truly epic proportions. As forrnJohnson’s belief that a problem-solvingrnpeople will keep moving onward andrnever upward—well, we will just have tornsee. ErnA video of the famous debate betweenrnThomas Fleming and Glen ThurowrnLincoln: Tyrant or Liberator?rnThe Bradford Debate SeriesrnSend $19.95 + $3.00 S/H to:rnThe Confederate Shoppern928 Delcris DrivernBirmingham, AL 35226rnTel: (205) 942-8978rnFax: (205) 1998/27rnrnrn