AMERICAN HEROES AND HERO-WORSHIP by Gerald W. Johnson

AMERICAN HEROES AND HERO-WORSHIP

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KIRKUS REVIEW

Pungent, provocative and original outlook on history, as Gerald Johnson re-examines a group of American heroes, points up the pernicious errors and ironics of accepted and traditional teaching, and shows that heroes are largely the product of popular demand -- what the public wanted to believe rather than what they were. DuPont de Nemours, the first self-made industrialist, and in Johnson's sense the first great American; changelings, Hamilton and Jefferson, Hamilton shown as actually more of a visionary and an idealist than Jefferson who is commonly considered to have those qualities but who was actually the realist of the two: Van Buren, the first practitioner of dirty politics; Harrison, the pawn, who played a prominent part without knowing what it was about -- who was, in fact, an aristocrat, but became President on the grounds of being a farmer: Bryan and Theodore Roosevelt, with Roosevelt the consistent winner but Bryan the lasting victor, since his premises survive today: Wilson, repudiated by the American people because they were afraid of his new order, but now facing Hitler's new order which grew out of their repudiation of the security Wilson fought for. Novel and discerning approach, a reversal of accepted judgments which provides entertainment as well as casting new light on American figures. The market for this sort of book is a slow moving one -- witness Wecter's The Hero in America -- but there is a small but steady interest.

Pub Date: Sept. 12th, 1943
Publisher: Harper