EXPLAINING AMERICA by Garry Wills

EXPLAINING AMERICA

KIRKUS REVIEW

The prolific and popular scholar-historian adds a new introduction to his study of the Federalist Papers, this time defending himself against critics who argued he blurred distinctions between Founders Hamilton and Madison. He also reaffirms his belief in Madison’s idea of “refining” objectivity in government, and suggests how he would change his original version: he’d de-emphasize the differences between our time and the Founders’ since Wills now believes that our present-day two-party system preserves the ideals of disinterest and compromise. None of these changes would satisfy Kirkus, who (back in 1980) faulted Wills’s “exegetic methods” and his “crypto-scholarship.” Wills’s attempt to emphasize the Scottish roots to the Papers runs counter to mainstream scholarship, which in our opinion he simply ignores. Kirkus also discerned “a diabolical blindness to the actual history surrounding the texts,” and felt that Wills “wears his classics training on his sleeve.” In short, we thought, “the point of the whole exercise still remains obscure.”

Pub Date: April 3rd, 2001
ISBN: 0-14-029839-8
Page count: 290pp
Publisher: Penguin
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1st, 2001




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