Beloit College Magazine

Beloit College Magazine

Summer 2013 (August 1, 2013)

The Idea of America: How Values Shaped Our Republic and Hold the Key to Our Future

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July 31, 2013

Idea of America


By H. Michael Hartoonian, Richard D. Van Scotter’61, and William E. White
The Colonial Williamsburg Foundation
Williamsburg, Va., 2013









Is the collective American civic consciousness deeply divided along idealistic lines, or constantly working to reconcile the tensions that come from embracing conflicting ideals from the very beginning of the republic? This book takes up what the authors call “value tensions”: the idea that American life has seen central tenets like law versus ethics, private wealth versus common wealth, freedom versus equality, and unity versus diversity collide time and again, and those debates are core to the identity of American democracy. In topical chapters covering war, religion, and government, the authors examine the balance of these “value tensions,” in various civic venues throughout history, creating a book that one reviewer bills as “a remarkable and invaluable civics lesson for all Americans.”

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