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America's Prophet

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3.7 of 5 stars 3.70  ·  rating details  ·  379 ratings  ·  87 reviews
The exodus story is America's story. Moses is our real founding father.

The pilgrims quoted his story. Franklin and Jefferson proposed he appear on the U.S. seal. Washington and Lincoln were called his incarnations. The Statue of Liberty and Superman were molded in his image. Martin Luther King, Jr., invoked him the night before he died. Ronald Reagan and Barack Obama cited
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ebook, 400 pages
Published October 6th 2009 by HarperCollins e-books (first published October 1st 2009)
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(showing 1-30 of 912)
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David
The premise of this fascinating book, is that many key points of American history were based on the biblical character, Moses. His story had strong influence on the Pilgrims, on Harriet Tubman, Brigham Young, Martin Luther King Jr., and on a number of presidents, including George Washington, Abraham Lincoln, and even George W. Bush.

The Second Continental Congress appointed John Adams, Benjamin Franklin, and Thomas Jefferson to form a committee to design a seal for the United States. Both Frankl
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Sher
I really really liked this book, and I am sure it has changed the way look at history, and many key figures in it, particularly the way I look at the founding of America. But there was an underlying tone I did not like. The author, Bruce Feiler, was Jewish. I have no argument with that, and I appreciate his point of view and totally understand it. The part I did not like was his comparison of Moses and Jesus Christ. He in effect dis-empowers Christ and gives all credit to Moses. I understand tha ...more
Joan
No book deserves five stars, but I loved it. Feiler documents the way Moses has been used as a major figure in the founding of America and beyond. I love the way he does his research and the way he writes.

The following is from the reviewer: The exodus story is America's story. Moses is our real founding father.

The pilgrims quoted his story. Franklin and Jefferson proposed he appear on the U.S. seal. Washington and Lincoln were called his incarnations. The Statue of Liberty and Superman were mol
...more
Steven
I enjoyed this book. Like the author, I was surprised just how deeply the story of Moses has resonated with Americans at every turn, from the Mayflower, to the Revolution, to the Civil War, to struggles for civil rights--to just about every President from George Washington to George W., to Obama. They all think they are Moses--and one or more of their contemporaries is always willing to make the comparison.

I found the book well-argued and well-researched. My only criticism is the moderate libera
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marcus miller
According to Feiler understanding the story of Moses is important to understanding American history. From the Puritans, to the Founding Fathers, Abolitionists, Abraham Lincoln, MLK Jr., to George W. Bush, and Barack Obama, Moses has been used as a figure to inspire and transform. Feiler points to the many places where Moses is used as a symbol of either liberation, the legal system or as an example of leadership. Maybe that is why, when watching a rerun of Shawshank Redemption, I noticed where t ...more
Jill
Every so often, I'll read a book by a Jewish author that makes me wish I had been born Jewish.

Thanks, mom. Yet again, I'm reminded that I'm not one of God's chosen people.

This was an extremely interesting read. I went into it with a certain amount of skepticism, figuring that it must be at least a somewhat weak polemic, popular mostly because of its author. But I emerged nearly-converted to Feiler's way of thinking. I had no idea how deep the threads of the Exodus story ran through American hist
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Bill
Interesting premise. Very well-written. I just wasn't overly compelled by the subject matter.
Naomi
I was delighted that a book I learned about from Diane Rehm's interview December 22, 2009 with Bruce Feiler, is such an extraordinary read.

Well organized, so that each chapter could stand on its, with a personal narrative woven throughout, Feiler draws the major American cultural and historical events connected to Moses -- in Egypt, at Pesach, around the Golden Calf, and at Mt. Nebo. Particularly challenging to some will be the reflections on Martin Luther King, Jr., perhaps because we are stil
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Dale
Published in 2009 by William Morrow (HarperCollins)

I love the premise of America's Prophet - that America has a special connection with the story of Moses beginning with the Puritans and going right up through Martin Luther King, Jr. He lays out the correlations with some skill but, in the end it just started to drag.

This review (and the book, to a lesser extent) is helped by a basic knowledge of the story of Moses. Feiler provides the necessary background on Moses and then proceeds to make com
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Jesse Schexnayder
If any one individual can be tied to the American story, it is Moses and his story of Exodus. From the earliest Puritans to the pop culture of Superman and on to the civil rights marches, Moses's struggle to achieve freedom from oppression for his people, and the moral ideals demanded by living with the consequences of that success run in a common stream through every great American struggle and achievement. And this is because the Mosaic law, unbeknownst to many modern Americans, is the primary ...more
Robert
Written in a light, entertaining style, this is a survey of the symbolic significance of the Exodus narrative in the self-consciousness of America - the persisting importance of that paradigm in the way Americans view themselves. Regarding this as a continuing theme in the nation's history, Feiler seeks to demonstrate that whenever Americans were struggling to free themselves from oppression - whether from religious conformity or monarchical rule, whether from the injustice of slavery or of "Jim ...more
Kristen
The research, writing, and topic of this book pushed me through it over just a few engrossing reading sessions.

They aren't really that representative of the whole, but these paragraphs and parts of paragraphs, from near the end, were provocative (and concise) to me. Here they are, for my historian friends:

What will I tell my children about the meaning of Moses?

First, the power of story. Exodus opens with a memorable statement: 'A new king arose over Egypt who did not know Joseph.' The story beg
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Judy
I've read several books by Bruce Feiler and was intrigued with the theme of this book--that Moses has been linked with the history of the United States since the beginning. Feiler begins to build his case by looking at the way in which both the colonists in Jamestown and Plymouth referred to themselves in terms of leaving England to find the Promised Land much as Moses led the Jews out of bondage from Egypt. Moses was frequently referred to during the colonial period, the Revolution, the Federal ...more
Bill Hall
When you think of America's Founding Fathers, several names come to mind; Thomas Jefferson, George Washington, Benjamin Franklin and countless other leaders of the era. One name that probably doesn't pop up in your thoughts quickly is Moses. But that will change when you read Bruce Feiler's latest book, "America's Prophet." In these pages he makes a persuasive argument that Moses has been the thread connecting American history since the first Pilgrims landed on the Atlantic Shore. Through almost ...more
Kristi
This book was recommended on Glenn Beck's show once, but I found it very disappointing...
1. this is a Jewish author that didn't even know that the 10 plagues were each an attack on an Egyptian god. He called them nuisances. Nuisance? Yah, they were a little more than that.
2. He called God impulsive. He said Moses talked God out of being impulsive.
3. He is anti-Catholic, but he's anti-Catholic without really understanding Catholics. Typical.
4. He said Christians downplay Moses. I disagree. Moses
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Derek Emerson
Ask the average American for the most influential person in the Bible and you'll likely hear "Jesus." Not so, says Bruce Feiler, who has made a career of bringing new life to old (but beloved) texts. Feiler keeps his wandering closer to home this time (he has traveled religious lands extensively) as he explores the importance of Moses in American history. Actually, importance is an understatement. According to Feiler, "you can't understand American history...without understanding Moses." He miss ...more
Jennifer
Overall, this was an excellent book. I struggled in the first 100 pages - as maybe the author struggled to choose a tense or a voice. He jumps from 1st person to third, then engages in conversational dialogue. It kind of drove me crazy. However, eventually we hit a stride. The discussion of how the story Moses has been evoked throughout American history was fascinating. I most enjoyed the sections on emancipation and the civil rights movement.

A couple of interesting quotes:

"Rousseau describes f
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Jana
Fascinating! The idea of the narrative of the Exodus, the Moses story, being woven throughout the entire history of the United States is surprising at first, but makes sense the more you read about it. So many public figures and even icons such as the Liberty Bell have been compared to or linked with Moses, as has the entire story of our country.
As a Christian, the one facet I felt was missing was at least a greater acknowledgment that the Moses story is so fundamental for our faith because he
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Maphead
Bruce Feiler’s America’s Prophet: Moses and the American Story is yet another book I discovered through the History Book Club catalog that I was able to grab from my local library. I’ve been curious about this author for several years, ever since a co-worker of mine spoke favorably of his books Walking the Bible and Where God Was Born. So, despite having a mountain of unread library books waiting for me at home, I grabbed America’s Prophet. And I’m really glad I did.

By traveling thousands of mi
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Summers
This was good as a Jewish interpretation of U.S. historical people, events and objects, i.e., Liberty Bell, some presidents, Benjamin Franklin, DeMille's The Ten Commandments, Martin Luther King, Jr., etc. Feiler downplayed Jesus whenever he did any kind of a comparison with Moses, and he never acknowledged Moses' relationship with God, so that was a little annoying, but the in-depth information was very good and very interesting, much more than I already knew.
Laureen
This book talks about the role Moses has played as "the" prophet of the American experience - from the American Revolution, to slavery and the Underground Railroad, to the Civil Rights movement of the 1960's. I particularly liked Feiler's assertion that the children of Israel weren't really free when they left Egypt. It was not until they chose to hold themselves to a higher law - given to them at Sinai through Moses - that they truly had the capacity to be free. He then compared the American Co ...more
Hope
Bruce Feiler excels at understanding cultures, whether a circus, another country, or religions. In this book, he explores the impact of the Moses story on the U.S., from Washington to King. I stopped reading at one point, bored, but when I picked the book up again I was fascinated and couldn't imagine why I had thought it slow.

In each chapter he evaluates books, speeches, newspapers: everything history could provide to shed light on the comparisons with Moses of a particular person or time. He d
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Greg
An exploration of the story of Moses and the Exodus and how it has been used as part of the narrative of the U.S. over the course of it's history. From it's first settlement as the "Promised Land" for religious groups, to the "yoke of Pharaoh" being thrown off during the Revolution, to the fight over slavery during the Civil War, and into the Civil Rights movement of the 60's, the story of Moses has inspired more advocates for change than the story of Jesus.
An interesting perspective of U.S. his
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Beth Neu
An interesting premise and well-written book. I enjoyed the comparisons and insight into the leadership skills that Moses possessed as well as some of our American leaders.
Ellenh
This book was a struggle to read, but by the last half I was glad I was doing it. Had I given up, I never would have known the connection to Moses in our country, never dreamed that he was such inspiration to our founding fathers as well as to the Statue of Liberty and the civil rights movement, even Cecil B. DeMille! But it fits, Feiler sees 3 themes, 'escaping oppression, seeking the promised land...tension between freedom and law...building a society that welcomes the outsider and uplifts the ...more
Jean Perry
Well, i wouldn't say Moses is our real founding father, i would say that the Moses/Exodus story is a long, exciting, adventurous Biblical story brought to many of our lives by Charleston Heston, but to previous generations by their ministers and Bible reading. The themes are universal: oppression, liberation, making a .new society. So, it was appealing to many of our ancestors and easily used in quotations, etc., that doesn't make Moses a founding father.



There were interesting bits of informati
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Brandon Dean
A very secular treatment of a very religious subject. Attempting to fit all sorts of disparate topics into his Moses paradigm, the author makes several stretches to make his point (that Moses is everywhere in American history), all the while missing the point; deliverance and justice are important themes, but do not solely account for Moses' appeal to the masses; it's the truths Moses brought down from Sinai-and the Source of those truths that set him apart from other Biblical and other historic ...more
Greg
Surprisingly disappointing. It's not the writing (though I think every chapter included among its first few pages a rhetorical question such as "and who do you think people often compared MLK to?") but, unfortunately, the subject matter. Sure, I learned a few things I didn't know, heard a few stories I hadn't encountered before, but I found the Moses connection to be pretty "meh." I guess I'm saying it was too obvious and so came off as just overdone. I will say that I enjoyed the overlap betwee ...more
Drick
Bruce Feiler shows how the figure of Moses and the event of the Exodus as recorded in the Bible has been a dominant recurring theme in U.S. history from the time of the Puritans to the present. While I was aware of the Mosaic metaphor in the underground railroad and the Civil Rights movement, I was unaware that the same metaphor has been applied to the Puritans, George Washington, Abe Lincoln and a host of other events. Feiler writes in a very accessible style and peppers his insights with local ...more
Marie
America's Prophet provides a wonderful, refreshing, novel view of America's history. Bruce Feiler takes the reader from William Bradford ("leader" of the first Pilgrims who landed at Plimoth) to George Washington to Martin Luther King, Jr. to George W. Bush... and explains clearly and concisely how they relate to Moses. It was amazing to read how much strength and influence America's leaders, past and present, draw from the Exodus story; and how greatly that story continues to influence our nati ...more
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BRUCE FEILER is one of America’s most popular voices on family, faith, and survival. He writes the “This Life” column about contemporary families for the Sunday New York Times and is the author of six consecutive New York Times bestsellers, including WALKING THE BIBLE and THE COUNCIL OF DADS. He is the writer/presenter of the PBS series “Walking the Bible” and the forthcoming “Sacred Journeys with ...more
More about Bruce Feiler...
Walking the Bible: A Journey by Land Through the Five Books of Moses Abraham: A Journey to the Heart of Three Faiths The Secrets of Happy Families: Improve Your Mornings, Rethink Family Dinner, Fight Smarter, Go Out and Play, and Much More Learning to Bow: Inside the Heart of Japan The Council of Dads: My Daughters, My Illness, and the Men Who Could Be Me

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