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WILFRED M. McCLAY holds the Victor Davis Hanson Chair in Classical History and Western Civilization at Hillsdale College. Before coming to Hillsdale in the fall of 2021, he was the G.T. and Libby Blankenship Chair in the History of Liberty at the University of Oklahoma, and the Director of the Center for the History of Liberty. His book, The Masterless: Self and Society in Modern America, received the 1995 Merle Curti Award of the Organization of American Historians for the best book in American intellectual history. Among his other books is The Student’s Guide to U.S. History, Religion Returns to the Public Square: Faith and Policy in America, Figures in the Carpet: Finding the Human Person in the American Past, Why Place Matters: Geography, Identity, and Public Life in Modern America, and Land of Hope: An Invitation to the Great American Story. He served for eleven years on the National Council on the Humanities, the advisory board for the National Endowment for the Humanities, and is currently is a member of the U.S. Commission on the Semiquincentennial, which has been charged with planning the celebration of the nation’s 250th birthday in 2026. He has been the recipient of fellowships from the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars, the National Endowment for the Humanities, and the National Academy of Education, and served as a Fulbright Senior Lecturer in American History at the University of Rome. He is a graduate of St. John’s College (Annapolis) and received his Ph.D. in History from Johns Hopkins University.
The American story begins before there was an America at all, except in the imagination of peoples around the world, living in poverty and yearning for freedom. From its beginnings America has been a land of hope, a magnet for people looking for a new beginning, a new life for themselves and their families. Out of their efforts a new nation gradually came into being. It was a nation formed by men and women who believed that freedom meant being able to rule themselves, rather than being ruled over by distant kings and princes. Such a nation would be a great experiment, a large republic unlike any other in history.
The Founders of the American nation would have had trouble recognizing the America that emerged after the Civil War. By century’s end we had rapidly evolved into the world’s greatest industrial power. It was a nation of large new cities populated by immigrants from all over the world. And it was a nation that was taking an increasingly active role on the world stage, even to the point of acquiring an empire of its own.
This Student Workbook for Wilfred M. McClay’s Land of Hope: An Invitation to the Great American Story will be an invaluable supplemental resource for students and teachers who use Land of Hope as a textbook for courses in U.S. history. Prepared by Dr. McClay in collaboration with Dr. John McBride, a master teacher with more than thirty years of secondary and collegiate teaching experience, it is an exceptionally rich and useful tool for classroom instructors.
This Teachers’ Guide to Wilfred McClay’s Land of Hope: An Invitation to the Great American Story will be an invaluable supplemental resource for teachers who use Land of Hope as a textbook for courses in U.S. history.
For too long we’ve lacked a compact, inexpensive, authoritative, and compulsively readable book that offers American readers a clear, informative, and inspiring narrative account of their country. Such a fresh retelling of the American story is especially needed today, to shape and deepen young Americans’ sense of the land they inhabit, help them to understand its roots and share in its memories, all the while equipping them for the privileges and responsibilities of citizenship in American society.
We have a glut of text and trade books on American history. But what we don’t have is a compact, inexpensive, authoritative, and compulsively readable book that will offer to intelligent young Americans a coherent, persuasive, and inspiring narrative of their own country.
Appreciating place is essential for building the strong local communities that cultivate civic engagement, public leadership, and many of the other goods that contribute to a flourishing human life.