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The Myth of American Exceptionalism

3.49 of 5 stars 3.49  ·  rating details  ·  65 ratings  ·  13 reviews
The idea that the United States is destined to spread its unique gifts of democracy and capitalism to other countries is dangerous for Americans and for the rest of the world, warns Godfrey Hodgson in this provocative book. Hodgson, a shrewd and highly respected British commentator, argues that America is not as exceptional as it would like to think; its blindness to its o ...more
Hardcover, 240 pages
Published January 27th 2009 by Yale University Press
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Unlike many Americans, I believe this country has a lot to learn from other nations and I believe that oftentimes the best insight you can gain about yourself or your country will come from an outsider. Such is the perspective of Godfrey Hodgson, who teaches at Oxford but who was a graduate student in the U.S. and has worked in the media in this country for several decades.
This long-time observer of American culture tackles the subject of American exceptionalism, a system of thought, which has
This book deals with what the title states and with which I agree. According to the author, Americans have been sold a bill of goods that they are living in the 'best' country in the world, that we have the best system of education, the best health care, and that our democracy should be exported to all others in the world, regardless of whether they want it. He goes about taking down all of these myths to show that our most treasured myth of democratic government actually had been debated in oth ...more
Brian Ayres
The most irritating thing about any political book is when an author is afraid to actually take a stand. Godfrey Hodgson provides a weak-knee defense to his book The Myth of American Exceptionalism. Spending much of this work interpreting some of the mythology of the American experience and chalking it up as nothing more than nationalistic ignorance, Hodgson continuously backtracks in an attempt to appease those who would choose to vehemently disagree. Following a very well-documented lament of ...more
Chantal Girgis
This book is a very interesting read for those who are interested in American History and the notion of American Exceptionalism.
The author argues that America as a nation is less exceptional in the good way than claimed, and probably even more exceptional in negative ways.
Hodgson gives many examples as to why he thinks this is the case and involves Europe in many of these examples.
The main message that I got from this book, was that the things that America called Exceptional, were not really
Another book that makes you frustrated with the US History you received in school. An eye-opening book by a British scholar and author who spent many years in Washington, DC as a corespondent. He examines the myths of American Exceptionalism from the early days of the English settlers (150 years before there was the United States of America) to the present day. Throughout history, political, economic and moral figures would like the world (and American citizens) to believe that what makes Americ ...more
The author critiques the idea that America is somehow better than other countries, and that Americans have a divine mission to spread our values throughout the world. He examines America's historical development and current political climate to reveal how many of myths about America's greatness are exaggerated and simply untrue (e.g., myths such as we have the best health care, the best educational system, the best democratic system, the best educational system, the best economic system, etc.). ...more
Margaret Sankey
More an extended essay, it is still a valuable piece from someone who, having established his bona fides, sets out to explain how one can love American History and yet not be so blinded by it that you cannot accept that it is relatively rather than exclusively exceptional, tied to a larger Atlantic (and later, Pacific) World and not a license on our part to batter the rest of the world with a rose-colored misreading of the American Revolution.
Steven Yenzer
Frustratingly unfocused. This book should have been a short essay rather than a meandering 190-page bore. Hodgson spends too much time reviewing familiar historical events and digressing into seemingly unrelated areas. His writing style has the potential for fire but relies too much on big words to be snappy.
Interesting read. Just goes to show that history is often told in mostly flattering terms. ;-)
Richard Prins
Oct 13, 2011 Richard Prins marked it as to-read
Shelves: non-fiction, minus
Mentioned on Foreign Policy by Stephen M. Walt.
A fascinating look at the flaws in the "American story". The author is not overly critical of America, just the way in which we often perceive ourselves.
Jan 15, 2009 Elizabeth marked it as to-read
Shelves: politics
As heard on "The Diane Rehm Show" on WYPR.
Jun 03, 2009 Tasha rated it 3 of 5 stars
Shelves: 2009
My review is that I'm shocked I'm the only person on Good Reads to review it. Boom.
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Godfrey Hodgson was a White House correspondent for a London newspaper with a desk in the Washington Post newsroom during the Kennedy and Johnson years. He has worked as a reporter for print and television throughout the United States and has written sixteen books, most dealing with people and issues in American politics. He taught at Oxford University and lives in Oxfordshire, U.K.
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