Schweikart (History/Univ. of Dayton) and Dougherty follow up the first volume of their Patriot's History of the Modern World (2012) with a disappointing sequel, again stressing above all the unchallenged nature of American exceptionalism.
The authors differentiate themselves from more traditional historians, who locate the American exception in the written Constitution, citizens' self-government and the separation of powers. Instead, they adopt a pre-Constitutional frame focusing on “the four pillars of American exceptionalism.” These include “common law, a Christian (mostly Protestant) religious culture, access to private property...and free market capitalism,” and Schweikart and Dougherty boldly assert that without all four pillars, “no true American style republic could be developed.” Many historians would find the authors’ thesis unsupportable, and this volume is disappointing mainly since it fails to elaborate how the “four pillars” have played out across the history of the world since 1945. The authors fail to pursue the opportunities to link historical developments to their primary thesis. Chief among these missed opportunities regards Martin Luther King's leadership of the civil rights movement. Schweikart and Dougherty present King as “an Atlanta-born Republican pastor who had a divinity degree from Boston University,” but they do not examine how a movement of mainly Protestant Christians, drawing from the nonviolent principles of Mahatma Gandhi, might affect the Protestant cultural requirement of their frame. Equally, they miss the references to King's movement that were so common among Lutheran-influenced protesters in East German nonviolent demonstrations in the late 1980s, and they ignore the impact of U.S. constitutional thinking in post–World War II settlements in Germany and Japan. The authors provide an avalanche of facts, but the causes that could link to their underlying “four pillars” thesis are neither offered nor proven. They conclude with a story from the Bible and compare it to the state of America in 2013, “which wants a government to ‘fight our battles’ and take care of everyone, needy or not.”
Right-slanted, monotonous historical reading offering little new, valid insight.