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Bradford of Plymouth (Lippincott, 1951) was an enlightened social biography- one that established America as the proving ground of the bridging between mediaevalism and commonwealth, as the new land built on the premise of voluntary association. Picking up this theme now and tracing its action in our country from Plymouth to the present day, Mr. Smith distinguishes himself again as a historian of depth and latitude and as a trenchant analyzer of basic American motives and the all important need to recognize and act upon them as such today. At the outset, his point is that the rugged-individualism, profit-making legend we have built and furthered, is not what truly represents us. Rather it is the force of voluntary association that is so taken for granted, and so obscured in the cultural lag that followed the machine age. Reading through the book is an exciting adventure in action at the community level, for with voluntarism the ever present leit-motif, stages in American growth spring alive. We are witness to the early victory over religious persecution; to the provincialism that was the corollary of independence in the Revolution; to the mutual aid without which the frontier settlements could not have survived; to the concerted effort against slavery; to the ""utopias"" and their belief in human capacity and voluntary action; to the emancipation of women; to the winning of rights for the worker. That we are, in conclusion, a nation of joiners is not a ""fault"" but our principal virtue representing a freedom whose danger is safer than the ""security"" that threatens to snuff it out, and a working force to be recognized for world peace. A needed statement for our time, we can only hope this will receive the notice it should.

Pub Date: Oct. 6th, 1954
Publisher: Lippincott