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America: The Last Best Hope, Volume 1: From the Age of Discovery to a World at War

4.24  ·  Rating Details ·  997 Ratings  ·  123 Reviews
To resce the future, we must remember our past.

With command and wit, William J. Bennett reacquaints Americans with their heritage in an engaging narrative that cuts through the cobwebs of time, memory, and prevailing cynicism. Washington, Franklin, Lincoln, Roosevelt, and others reemerge not as marble icons or dust-dry names in a textbook, but as full-blooded, heroic pione
Hardcover, 573 pages
Published May 23rd 2006 by Nelson Current (first published 2006)
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May 30, 2012 Chrissy rated it it was amazing
Shelves: general-history
This book sets out to inspire Americans with their own history and to be an antidote to school textbooks that dredge out with tedious boredom and leave many with contempt for the subject. In this regard, this book excels amazingly. I was the kid that begrudgingly sat through school history classes and only kept enough mundane facts in my head long enough to make my A and be on with my life. The dates of the war were such and such, slavery was bad, this Columbus guy mistakenly found the place, et ...more
Julie Davis
Jun 15, 2013 Julie Davis rated it it was amazing
This is just what I wanted. An American history that is even-handed and thorough, yet doesn't bog me down so I can never get the overall gist (such as telling all the details of every campaign that was fought during the French-Indian wars).

Also it is so clearly written and engaging that it is my breakfast reading and I often have to hurry through my remaining routine because I was too caught up in the book to keep track of time.

A few things I have learned about American history:

• I already knew
Jul 01, 2008 Tara rated it really liked it
Since I love history, I thouroughly enjoyed this book and am looking forward to reading volume II. It is a good, comprehensive overview, but with small details that most people are unaware of. So many times while reading I found myself saying out loud "Really?" or "Get out, I didn't know that." I kept telling my husband little details so often that he said he doesn't need to read it because I told him all about it. I would reccomend it to anyone who likes history.
Hilmi Isa
Ini merupakan sebuah ulasan buku dwi-bahasa.
This is a bilingual book review.

Buku ini merupakan sebuah buku sejarah mengenai Amerika Syarikat. Sebenarnya,buku ini merupakan jilid atau volume pertama daripada tiga buah kesemuanya. Untuk jilid pertama ini,buku ini membincangkan dari penemuan benua Amerika,Peperangan Kemerdekaan Amerika Syarikat,Perang Saudara Amerika Syarikat dan sehinggalah pada tahun 1914 apabila Perang Dunia Pertama bermula pada tahun tersebut.
Buku ini sebenarnya lebih sesuai di
Nov 15, 2008 Jennifer is currently reading it
So, I have just read the introduction and I am already inspired. I wonder if part of the attraction is that I have an active duty spouse? I wonder how that colors my perspective? Well, it is very good so far. I liek to think that I will keep you posted, but I probably wont.
Steven Richards
Jul 29, 2012 Steven Richards rated it really liked it
My favorite history books (Vol. 1 & 2) to date. I love how Dr. Bennett introduces historical figures early in the narrative, before they are typically well known by history.
Kenzi Kraync
Jan 28, 2011 Kenzi Kraync rated it really liked it
Its amazing!!!
I'm reading it for U.S. History.
Simon Aaronson
Dec 19, 2015 Simon Aaronson rated it really liked it
A Book Review: The Last Best Hope by, William J. Bennett

The Last Best Hope by, William Bennett

The Last Best Hope, by William J. Bennett, describes how America’s focus inward after the Civil War, led to the Industrial Revolution and progressive policies that positioned the United States to be a world leader. Dr. William J. Bennett, who is the former secretary of education, explained that he had several reasons for writing the book, including a need for hope, an opportunity for Americans to enjoy
Apr 03, 2010 A.J. rated it liked it
Shelves: history-politics
[This is a review of chapters 1-6, or roughly half of Bennet's first volume. I selected this book for topical reasons. If and when I continue reading it, I'll extend the review.:]

One of the pleasures of reading American history in particular is that it is an amazing story. I find nearly all of history fascinating, and there are plenty of unlikely and wonderful sagas from all ages and empires of the world, but America's is perhaps the unlikeliest and most important to date.

The opening half of Ben
Don Weidinger
Aug 12, 2013 Don Weidinger rated it it was amazing
non fiction book of virtues, Lincoln last best hope, Iran come here next, Douglas and King appealed to value of founders, loving critic, new patriotism-not know who we are, slavery from Moors Arabs Africans Indians, tobacco syphilis potato maze horses, 1/3 Bubonic plague via dessert origin, nightshirt thankfulness, England republican 1650, Franklin still waves via oil, after 1760 French defeat little need for British, Burke 1775 great empires small minds, Washington stopped pope day strengthenin ...more
Oct 20, 2007 Mateo rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: novices of US History
This was an extremely insightful book. Bennett's style of writing makes you wish he wrote the textbooks I had to learn from. Very thorough in his research and not one to leave out the stains that taint the fabric of this country. Is this country perfect? Of course it is not. Is any?

What really stands out in this volume are the founding fathers. Particularly Washington. In just the right amount of words, the author sets the stage for a thrilling moment. One that the world watched like no other.
Anthony  Spallone
Sep 12, 2016 Anthony Spallone rated it really liked it
This was a great read. I wish I would have had a US History book like this in high school. Dr. Bennett knows how to tell the American story in an engaging way with relevant stories. He gives the relevant facts and covers a lot of material. I found it helpful because he also deals with revisionist history when appropriate. Reading it made me grateful for my country but also made me realize how much minorities have suffered in our country. He makes sure to tell both sides so I understand how nuanc ...more
Jul 23, 2011 Jon rated it it was amazing
Shelves: books-read-2011
I really enjoyed this book. It was a very good refresher of what we learned in grade school about our country's discovery, founding and subsequent early growing pains. It was written in a very non-partisan way even though Bennett is a conservative who was the Secretary of Education during the Reagan Administration. He provided lots of very interesting anectodes and trivia during this expansive first volume of a 2-book series. I learned for example the founding of the GOP term for republicans, wh ...more
Graham Bradley
Jun 27, 2013 Graham Bradley rated it it was amazing
Though the breadth of the subject matter makes such a project ambitious by any stretch, Bennett does a good job of covering many years of American history by "skimming" the important details, just enough to give you the big picture. His treatment of the American experiment as a whole is fair--positive and optimistic, without skipping over the ugly bits.

I'll say this much: American history is replete with examples of great men who unfortunately did terrible things along the way, and the more read
Jul 17, 2016 Natasha rated it it was amazing
Shelves: history
I love history. I have studied it a lot. This is one of the best summaries of American History ever. I've read quite a few of the books he uses as his source material and I can vouch for the fact that he includes all the most interesting and significant aspects of American history. And he's even included a good number of humorous accounts, which always makes for good storytelling. He is good to include world history, too, as it impacts American History.

Even with my passion for history and all I
Jul 23, 2009 Susan rated it liked it
A good, high-level look at U.S. history from the time of the arrival of the first Europeans until just before the U.S. Entry into World War I. I read it because I was never a very good student of history and have forgotten most of what I've learned. Certainly not an in-depth book, but still, enough to give me a good overview. Mr. Bennett is more conservative than I but this doesn't seem to show as much as it would in his views of more current events. His sentence structures are sometimes awkward ...more
Keith Craig
This was a pleasant surprise. I was expecting a jingoistic book by Dr. Bennett. What a got was a brush stroke of U.S. history with only a few comments on modern politics. I did think the remarks about modern politics were unnecessary in a history book. The reason I only gave three stars is that I have done a lot of reading about history and knew most of the things talked about in this book.

I would reccomend this for someone that does not have a lot of historical reading under their belt. That wa
Glenn Short
Jun 18, 2011 Glenn Short rated it it was amazing
Over the years I have come to enjoy reading history. Having read biographies and books about specific events, it has been refreshing to read a book that gets to the meat of a historical event quickly enough so that you can move on to the next event. I am very comfortable with his style of narrative. It is just like storytelling in front of a warm fire. I'll admit that I put the book down for a time while I read other books. But picking it up again made me realize just how good this book really i ...more
Jul 16, 2012 Danielle rated it it was amazing
I really enjoyed this book. While it's not necessarily an easy read, I learned so much. I realized how much I didn't learn about US history in school. So, this was a good update. It is kind of like drinking through a fire hose in terms of all the information it gives you. So, I may read it again somewhere down the road. But, definitely one of the more engaging history books I've read with many interesting facts. I'll be reading the second volume (which covers from WWI to present) as soon as I gi ...more
Nov 19, 2008 Eric rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: History buffs
Recommended to Eric by: Mom and Dad
This was a great history book. I love history, I just hate the anti-American slant that many history books tend to have taken nowadays. This one lays down the facts as they are! The Founding Fathers weren't perfect men. They weren't always the nicest men, and they didn't always make the best decisions, but they created this great country that has stood up for over 300 years now. That's quite an accomplishment! This book focuses on the positive lessons that can be learned from history and gives a ...more
This book was a solid survey history covering America from its birth until Reconstruction. The author is a well known Republican conservative and he openly wrote a history in a positive light that tries to make all of our history look good. While I appreciated the refreshing look at U.S. History, some parts were hard to swallow. I did enjoy the read as it contained many nuggets of history that I did not know. I did feel good as an American after reading this and and I do plan on reading the seco ...more
Brady Wilson
A nice refresher of the early history of our great country! I can't wait to read Volume II. I really felt that it was a very fair look at all sides of historical events as the author had intended it to be. It did focus a lot on the politics and governement of our developing country as opposed to other aspects of history. To be honest that was a good aspect of our history to read about and something I believe gets skewed and forgotten all too often these days. It will be a good reference for comp ...more
May 28, 2015 Dawn rated it it was amazing
EXCELLENT BOOK!! Such a well-written and readable comprehensive history of the United States. I read this book aloud to my kids this school year, and we all thoroughly enjoyed it! Packed with super-interesting personal stories of presidents, other politicians, and many other not-as-well-know historical folks... I can't tell you how many times we laughed aloud, and how many amazing, memorable things we learned! It ends with the start of WWI, so we will pick up the next one right away. Highly reco ...more
Jan 24, 2010 Harold rated it it was amazing
This has to be the best book of U.S. history I've read. It covers from the time of Columbus to the brink of WWI and how we arrived there. I cannot wait to read the second in this series. Dr. Bennett did a masterful job at keeping me informed and entertained at the same time. Time and again I turned to my wife saying "did you know..." This book even reaffirmed my love for this country and how blessed I feel for being a part of it. It dwells deep into the sacrifice and hard work that has brought o ...more
Jan 26, 2009 Nancee rated it it was ok
Shelves: didn-t-finish
I found it a little boring. I think if I had to read a history book, I would pick this one. I only made it to page 73 though. The stuff I read really cleared up some myths about my memories of history and turned it into a story. I learned more about Christopher Columbus, Squanto, Pocahontus, etc. However, I always seemed to find something better to do than continue the book. After a month, I decided it was time to move on.
I thought this was an analysis of how America is the "last best hope" for some point the author would be making. This book, at least Volume 1, is a history book. Nothing more. Nothing less. I would not have purchased the audio book had I known that. I have read other books by this author and really enjoyed this. Moral Compass being one of them. As a history book goes, it seems to do a good job of American history. I did learn a few things and I consider myself well read on American history.
Oct 28, 2012 Judy rated it really liked it
I thought this was a great overview of American history from the discovery of America to the start of World War I. The author makes this a compelling read and leaves you with a hunger to dig deeper. After finishing this book I am adding several more American history books to my reading list. As a matter of fact, I already purchased the first one I will read, the autobiography of Frederick Douglas.
Mar 06, 2009 Eddie rated it it was amazing
Shelves: american-history
This was an awesome read. I felt that William Bennett made a good effort to keep that information balanced. Of course he could always be free of bias and te reader will have no doubts that he is definitely conservative and Roman Catholic. However, this shouldn't keep you from reading it. It is engaging and informative. I read this entire book cover to cover and came away sad to see it end even though I have volume two to read. Kudos to Bill!
Sep 09, 2008 Dale rated it really liked it
The older I get the more I seem to enjoy history. Here is one that is a great review of American history and is written in a positive and easy to read style. Bill Bennett is a great American who is a true patriot. Rather than dwell on the failings of individuals (although he does not ignore them) he choose instead to remind us of the greatness of the the history that brought to fruition the United States of America.
Urey Patrick
Aug 05, 2011 Urey Patrick rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: history-america
A comprehensive overview - engaging, perceptive, and informative. Excellent for the curious and the unawares - hopefully it will pique an interest in an event or an episode in American history that will induce the interested and the inquisitive to seek out more focused works. Of course, this must by read with its companion Volume 2 to get the full exposure to the tapestry that is American history.
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William J. "Bill" Bennett is a politician and author who served in the Ronald Reagan and George H. W. Bush administrations, as chief of National Endowment for the Humanities and later Secretary of Education under Reagan, and Drug Czar under Bush. He is a nationally well-known figure of political and social conservatism and authored many books on politics, ethics, and international relations.
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