dominating the media and the academy,rnhave distorted our sense of American history.rnGoing back to original sources,rnreading neglected texts, and rethinkingrnold issues, he has refreshed our sense ofrnourselves and of our sense of nonsense.rnIn doing so, he has stepped on manyrna toe, for there are a host of politicalrnreasons why convenient myths are broadcastrntoday with religious fervor. Thernself-evident collapse of liberalism hasrnexposed to everyone what a few havernlong known; the rationale of Big Government,rnif it was ever justified, no longerrnholds.rnA primary rationale for Leviathan hasrnbeen the warmaking power, which is whyrnKauffman has devoted much attentionrnto the America Firsters of 1940-41. Irnthink it is here that Kauffman, as a revisionistrnwho has reconstituted the sense ofrnforgotten days, has done his best work.rnHe has revived some of the leaders ofrnthat movement as thinkers and as individuals,rnrestoring them to our historicalrnimagination. His treatment of HamlinrnGarland and Amos Pinchot shows arnbackground to isolationism that hasrnroots both populist and patrician, andrnpersonal qualities that are appealing. Hisrnreconsideration of the literary side of isolationismrnis revealing, uniting in his viewrnRobinson Jeffers, Kathleen Norris, EdgarrnLee Masters, Edmund Wilson, John P.rnMarquand, John Dos Passos, SinclairrnLewis, and William Saroyan. His pointrnis that before Pearl Harbor and Hitler’srndeclaration of war, America First was arnrational and respectable movement thatrnhad precedence in the best Americanrntraditions as sanctioned by Washingtonrnand Jefferson—and even Hamilton—rnamong the founders, and by widespreadrnand thoughtful opposition to the “splendidrnlittle war” of 1898. Kauffman hasrnmade his point, and in so doing he hasrnexamined the charges of anti-Semitismrnthat have been leveled against the AmericarnFirsters. His conclusion, based on thernevidence, is to dismiss most of thoserncharges.rnWas there indeed a movement to precipitaternAmerica’s entry into the SecondrnWorld War? Kauffman’s look at AnglophilernHollywood reminds us of therncelebration of the British Empire thatrnwas mounted by Hollywood, and showsrnus that subsequent revelations byrnWilliam Stephenson and Michael Kordarnhave literally vindicated the chargesrnbrought by Senator Nye. His amusingrnessay on Alice Roosevelt Longworth remindsrnus that not everyone was reverentialrnabout FDR. His book reminds usrnthat neither was, or is, everyone reverentialrnabout the Popular Front mentalityrnthat seems to have rewritten the nationalrnhistory. In such pages, and others devotedrnto such individualists and rambunctiousrnreformers as the late Edward Abbeyrnand the alive and kicking John Mc-rnClaughry, Kauffman is as entertaining asrnhe is informative.rnI must say that I am less satisfied withrnother aspects of Kauffman’s presentation.rnHis remarks on Ross Perot and PatrnBuchanan have been already renderedrnobsolete by events, though I think Kauffman’srnsense that there is a nationalrngrassroots movement in the direction ofrnisolationism has much truth to it. Applicationrnof theory is contingent at best,rnanyway. But I cannot share Kauffman’srnadmiration for Gore Vidal, whose interminablernrehashes of American historyrnthat everyone should know always recurrnto celebrating the ineffable wonderfulnessrnof Gore Vidal, and whose fictionsrnare either exercises in camp or, what isrnworse, boring historical novels that makernThomas B. Costain look like Shakespeare.rnI cannot share either a related thoughrnunnecessary hostility to William F.rnBuckley, Jr., who, it must be said, hasrnwritten the best column in this countryrnfor decades, who has been an indispensablernleader of the conservative movementrnfor those same decades, and who,rnmore than any other prominent Americanrnin the last 40 years, has personifiedrnthe once unquaint term gentleman.rnWhile I am at it, neither do I believe thatrnthere is any such thing as a “CatholicrnRight,” that “gay-bashing” is an adequaternterm for resistance to homosexualrnaggression, or that antieommunism wasrna pretext for imperialism.rnOn the whole, I think that Bill Kauffman’srnvision of a yeoman America thatrnlooks after itself is authentic and in thernbest tradition of our country. But wernmust admit as well that there are other,rnbaser traditions that go deep in our historyrn—in our national psyche. Washingtonrnwas tough with the Whiskey Rebellion.rnJefferson—Jefferson!—precipitatedrnManifest Destiny and empire with thernLouisiana Purchase. Who, seeing suchrnan opportunity, would have turned itrndown? Why did Vermont farmboysrnburn houses and steal chickens in Virginia?rnWhy did Alabama farmboys fightrnfor independence while their leadersrneyed Cuba, and more of Mexico? Americansrnhave not resisted the masked temptationrnof power, and have always beenrncontaminated by it—^like the rest of humanity.rnOur biggest mistakes have beenrnthe subtlest ones, and insofar as theyrnwere inevitable, they were tragic.rnOne of Bill Kauffman’s most powerfulrnimplications is that untruth is no basisrnfor reform. Another is that now is therntime to undo the damage that has beenrndone at home. At the end of the ColdrnWar, we have a chance to rethink ourrnpolicies—and our national mythology asrnwell. Toward that end, Kauffman hasrnmade an important and very readablerncontribution.rn].0. Tate is a professor of English atrnDowling College on Long Island.rnEqual Timernby Philip JenkinsrnGod: A Biographyrnby Jack MilesrnNew York: Alfred A. Knopf;rn446 pp., $27.50rnThe Origin of Satanrnby Elaine PagelsrnNew York: Random House;rn214 pp., $23.00rnIf the best-seller lists are any guide,rnsomething odd is stirring in Americanrnattitudes toward religion, and specificallyrntoward the Judeo-Christian tradition.rnFor decades, it has been a commonplacernthat religious belief represents a criticalrndemarcation line in class and intellectualrnbelief, and that educated elites not onlyrndo not believe, they do not care. Recently,rnthough, religious books of varyingrnquality have been in vogue, and not justrnfeathery items about obnoxious angels.rnFar from suggesting an imminent religiousrnrevival, such works ostensibly restrnon the assumption that we are now sufficientlyrnremoved from the religiousrndream to be able to revisit it with objectivity.rnGod and Satan are not only dead,rnthey are so far back in history that evenrntheir surviving relatives should not objectrnto a frank biography. However, therntwo books reviewed here suggest a veryrn32/CHRONICLESrnrnrn