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Americans honor the flag with a fervor seen in few other countries: The Stars and Stripes decorate American homes and businesses; wave over sports events and funerals; and embellish everything from politicians' lapels to the surface of the moon. But what does the flag mean? In Capture the Flag, historian Woden Teachout reveals that it has held vastly different meanings over time. It has been claimed by both the right and left; by racists and revolutionaries; by immigrants and nativists. In tracing the political history of the flag from its origins in the American Revolution through the present day, Teachout demonstrates that the shifting symbolism of the flag reveals a broader shift in the definition of American patriotism. A story of a nation in search of itself, Capture the Flag offers a probing account of the flag that has become America's icon.
Reconnecting with the sources of decisions that affect us, and with the processes of democracy itself, is at the heart of 21st-century sustainable communities. Slow Democracy chronicles the ways in which ordinary people have mobilized to find local solutions to local problems. It invites us to bring the advantages of "slow" to our community decision making. Just as slow food encourages chefs and eaters to become more intimately involved with the production of local food, slow democracy encourages us to govern ourselves locally with processes that are inclusive, deliberative, and citizen powered. Susan Clark and Woden Teachout outline the qualities of real, local decision making and show us the range of ways that communities are breathing new life into participatory democracy around the country. We meet residents who seize back control of their municipal water systems from global corporations, parents who find unique solutions to seemingly divisive school-redistricting issues, and a host of other citizens across the nation who have designed local decision-making systems to solve the problems unique to their area in ways that work best for their communities. Though rooted in the direct participation that defined our nation's early days, slow democracy is not a romantic vision for reigniting the ways of old. Rather, the strategies outlined here are uniquely suited to 21st-century technologies and culture.If our future holds an increased focus on local food, local energy, and local economy, then surely we will need to improve our skills at local governance as well.
As military campaigns go, the War of 1812 was a disaster. By the time it ended in 1815, Washington, D.C., had been burned to the ground, the national debt had nearly tripled, and territorial gains were negligible. Yet the war gained so much popular support that it ushered in what is known as the "era of good feelings," a period of relative partisan harmony and strengthened national identity. Historian Nicole Eustace's cultural history of the war tells the story of how an expensive, unproductive campaign won over a young nation—largely by appealing to the heart. 1812 looks at the way each major event of the war became an opportunity to capture the American imagination: from the first attempt at invading Canada, intended as the grand opening of the war; to the battle of Lake Erie, where Oliver Perry hoisted the flag famously inscribed with "Don't Give Up the Ship"; to the burning of the Capitol by the British. Presidential speeches and political cartoons, tavern songs and treatises appealed to the emotions, painting war as an adventure that could expand the land and improve opportunities for American families. The general population, mostly shielded from the worst elements of the war, could imagine themselves participants in a great national movement without much sacrifice. Bolstered with compelling images of heroic fighting men and the loyal women who bore children for the nation, war supporters played on romantic notions of familial love to espouse population expansion and territorial aggression while maintaining limitations on citizenship. 1812 demonstrates the significance of this conflict in American history: the war that inspired "The Star-Spangled Banner" laid the groundwork for a patriotism that still reverberates today.
This book is a lively intellectual history of a small circle of thinkers, especially, but not solely, Harry Jaffa and Walter Berns, who challenged the "mainstream" liberal consensus of political science and history about how the American Founding should be understood. Along the way they changed the course of the conservative movement and had a significant impact on shaping contemporary political debates from constitutional interpretation, civil rights, to the corruption of government today. Most importantly, these thinkers explain the deep reasons for patriotism—why we should love America not just because it is our country, but because it is a free and just country.
Books on Whittaker Chambers and Alger Hiss abound, as countless scholars have labored to uncover the facts behind Chambers's shocking accusation before the House Committee on Un-American Activities in the summer of 1948, that Alger Hiss, a former rising star in the State Department, had been a Communist and engaged in espionage. In this work, the author turns her attention to the Hiss case, including his trial and imprisonment for perjury, as a mirror of shifting American political views and passions.
Conventional wisdom holds that America has been a Christian nation since the Founding Fathers. But in One Nation Under God, historian Kevin M. Kruse argues that the idea of “Christian America” is nothing more than a myth—and a relatively recent one at that. The assumption that America was, is, and always will be a Christian nation dates back no further than the 1930s, when a coalition of businessmen and religious leaders united in opposition to the FDR’s New Deal. With the full support of Dwight Eisenhower in the 1950s, these activists—the forerunners of the Religious Right—propelled religion into the public sphere. Church membership skyrocketed; Congress added the phrase “under God” to the Pledge of Allegiance and made “In God We Trust” the country’s official motto. For the first time, America became a thoroughly religious nation. Provocative and authoritative, One Nation Under God reveals how the comingling of money, religion, and politics created a false origin story that continues to define and divide American politics today.

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