THE AMERICAN TESTAMENT by Mortimer J. & William Gorman Adler


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Three brief commentaries on the Declaration of Independence, the Preamble to the U.S. Constitution, and President Lincoln's Gettysburg Address. Adler, chairman of the board of editors of The Encyclopedia Britannica, and Gorman, senior fellow at the Institute for Philosophical Research, first presented these papers at the Aspen Institute for Humanistic Studies. Through a very close reading and line-by-line analysis of these documents, the authors try to convey a deeper understanding of the American political and social philosophy. As reading for the Bicentennial and for use by students looking at U.S. history, The American Testament will serve nicely. Yet the whole effort might better make two articles than a whole book. One wishes for more general interpretative writings on the uniqueness and evolution of a distinctly American world view; in the word-by-word dissection broader issues sometimes become lost. The extremely short discussion of the Gettysburg Address adds little: its simple eloquence is not made to reveal much that has not already been said. The section on the Declaration of Independence succeeds in conveying the marvelous scope of Thomas Jefferson's mind. Adler and Gorman include a brief historical context and a valuable tracing of the intellectual sources of these documents. An American civics primer.

Pub Date: Nov. 1st, 1975
Publisher: Praeger