While most histories of the Civil War naturally focus on the drama in America, Don H. Doyle’s “The Cause of All Nations” explains how the conflict fits into broader world history and how events abroad affected the war.
We comfort ourselves, saying, “This is not who we are.” But without deeper reflection, such pat answers are lies, strengthening the “vulgarized knowledge” that allow us to ignore the chasms that threaten to consume us.
Renewed debates over history reveal the narratives that conservatives and progressives employ to justify or decry American history. One narrative insists on lionizing historical figures, the other on demonizing them—yet both distract from the ongoing pursuit of the American ideals of justice, liberty, and equality.
King recognized that for nations, as for individuals, the measure of goodness is not perfection, but rather direction. America was born headed in the right direction—and continues to build a “more perfect union” dreamed up by imperfect men.