Review: America: The Last Best Hope: Volume I

  • March 1, 2009
  • James Skemp
  • review

The following is a book review of America: The Last Best Hope: Volume I, written by William J. Bennett.

Having read a number of articles, inspired by the historical nature of the last election, I went searching for a good general U.S. history book. I am indeed lucky that I found William J. Bennett's America: The Last Best Hope.

The work consists of two separate volumes; the first covers 1492 (the 'age of discovery') to 1914 ('a world at war'), while the second from 1914 (a world at war) to 1989 ('the triumph of freedom'). I'll speak here of the first volume only.

While I can't say I've read much in the way of general U.S. history, Bennett's work is to be applauded. He splits up his work into fairly bit-sized pieces (although some are longer than I'd recommend for a normal sitting), making it fairly easy to read pieces of this work each day, to completion.

While it seemed the beginning chapters were more detailed, and the last less so, I wonder if that's not best; after all, what he covers could easily span tens of thousands of pages. Unfortunately, I was expecting a greater amount of detail, due to the first chapters, so I was a little disappointed.

Otherwise, I found Bennett's work truly captivating. As someone who just wanted to learn a bit more, generally, about U.S. history, this was the perfect work for me. I therefore highly recommend this as an introductory work that should sufficiently cover this period of time, in relation to the U.S., so that you can either have that backing, or have an idea of where you'd like to prefer additional information.

As for me, I purchased volume 2 at the same time as volume 1, and am looking forward to reading it.