Young Reader's Edition Land of Hope: An Invitation to the Great American Story - Encounter Books

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Young Reader’s Edition Land of Hope: An Invitation to the Great American Story

Volume One: Shaping a New Nation, 1492 to 1877

$27.99
Available 7/12/2022
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Publication Details

Paperback / 268 pages
ISBN: 9781641771702
AVAILABLE: 07/12/2022


Coming Soon
Young Reader’s Edition Land of Hope: An Invitation to the Great American Story
Volume One: Shaping a New Nation, 1492 to 1877

From its beginnings America was a land of hope, a magnet for those seeking a new beginning for themselves. The American Founders created a unique plan of government designed to realize those ideals. Implementing the plan was not easy, though, and a bloody civil war would push the American experiment to the breaking point — and to a new birth of freedom.


About the Author

Wilfred M. McClay holds the Victor Davis Hanson Chair in Classical History and Western Civilization at Hillsdale College.

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Excerpt

B

ut where to begin? How far back do we go?

If we try to tell the whole story, we might end up going back many thousands of years. And there’s much we really don’t know for certain. We believe that the first human settlers came over into the western hemisphere perhaps 20,000–30,000 years ago from northeastern Asia, probably by crossing over what is now the Bering Strait, the frigid waters that separate Russia and Alaska. From there, we believe that these first immigrants to America gradually filtered outward and downward, eventually populating all of North and South America.

From those migrant peoples emerged some highly advanced cultures, which rose, flourished, and fell. The Mayas and Aztecs of Mexico, the Incas of Peru, the North American settlements, the Pueblo of the Southwest – all of them blazed a trail across time but left behind for us only a few physical reminders of themselves, silent clues to a once-flourishing but now vanished way of life.

There is something haunting about these remaining traces of earlier civilizations. In a sense, they are a part of our history, even if we know next to nothing about them. Their mysterious life and death haunt us with a somber recognition: the realization that our civilization, too, is perishable and can disappear in the same way.

But we won’t begin our story with those civilizations past, for the simple reason that they had no direct or significant role in the establishment of the settlements and institutions that would eventually make up the country we know as the United States.

Neither did the later discovery and exploration around the year 1000 of a New World by adventurous Norse seamen, such as Leif Eriksson of Iceland. He tried to plant a colony in what is now the large Canadian island of Newfoundland. He and other Norsemen tried their best to establish a settlement in this chilly newfound land to the west. But their efforts came to nothing and are generally counted as historical curiosities. They are interesting false starts on American history, perhaps, but no more than that.

And yet, on further reflection, I need to modify that statement, for the lost civilizations of the first Americans and the episodic voyages of Eriksson and other Norsemen point toward the deepest sources of American history. They point to the presence of America in the world’s imagination as an idea, as a land of hope, of refuge and opportunity, of a second chance at life for those willing to take it. Ideas are as much a part of history as battles, elections, and other deeds. And that idea, and the persistence of that idea, is one of the themes of this book. It is in the book’s title itself.

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