"Real social change must come from people, forged through public discourse and studied at all levels of education."

Gellert’s fascinating study of America’s national character traces the evolution of the Founding Fathers’ democratic beliefs through America’s embrace of the “heroic ideal.” Alongside a discussion of the changing American heroism, the author looks at its relationship to the American psyche from the Revolutionary War to today’s polarization of political parties. However, as America’s political parties grow more divided and hostile, and its leaders show an unwillingness to compromise on controversial issues, the author proposes the country stands at a crossroads where its citizens must define the American identity. Is America a country that holds the psychological ideal of offering refuge to asylum seekers? Does the country believe in civil discourse and compromise? Is America’s future stable? The answers, as always, are within the citizens’ power to determine. Gellert follows the logic of Bob Dylan, one of his favorite voices concerning the American psyche: "You don’t need a weatherman to know which way the wind blows." A free society’s responsibility is to foster awareness through informed discourse.

This painstakingly edited, in-depth look at the complex story of America’s identity is a wonderful reference of the essential elements that have shaped the country. Crafting an enjoyable read filled with anecdotes and commentary from philosophers and historians, Gellert makes a compelling argument that the unbalanced American psyche has led to a divided country on the edge of peril. His precise language is easily accessible as he discusses today’s cultural and political atmosphere and how the country became divided. Charting the path of extremes America has traveled, he captures the opposing factions that have been at work in the country from the beginning. Gellert calls the citizenry to learn from history and educate itself to ensure the United States follows its moral compass and respects its historic ideals.

RECOMMENDED by the US Review

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