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« Great Powers Reading Group: Chapter 1 | Main | Twittering the book tour: Day 10 »
Saturday
Feb142009

Great Powers reading group

[Tom's note:  the original discussion was posted on 8 Feb 2010.  I moved it back a bit to keep all the "Great Power" journal entries (writing the book, blogging the book tour, book group discussion) in chronological order]

Remember when I said we were going to have a Great Powers reading group? Well, it's on.

HistoryGuy99 will lead us chapter by chapter through GP. We'll start one week from tomorrow on the Preface and Chapter One, so make sure you've read that far by then.

HistoryGuy is a great friend of the weblog. He writes himself at HG's World. Over there his bio says:

U.S. Army Vietnam veteran,who came home, and had a 30 year career in global logistics. I Recently re-invented myself by obtaining an advanced degree in history.My current quest, is to spend the rest of my life connecting the next generations to a future worth creating, by understanding the past.

Here's HistoryGuy's take on the book so far:

I had almost given up, when I went back to the original message and the link you sent. I then read the article again and found it was responding to a Chet Richards quote. A quick check of the index sent me to page 341, and there it was. To read that little quote, opened a window on how much Tom was able to draw from the intersection of ideas that flowed from the minds of the 180+ bloggers and contributors he acknowledged most gratefully.

 

What I write below is not because I am filled with some ego driven-motive. It flows from my belief that Tom is really on to something. Listening to Hugh Hewitt plug Tom's book before his show, and during the interview, tells me that Tom has reached across the political spectrum better than any living member of either party. Hewitt is "center RIGHT" as he describes himself, but I think he has recognized a masterpiece that will be the economic, social and political bible for the first half century of this millennium.

 

I think after reading the preface and the first two chapters, and beginning the third, that this book is about as masterful as any I have ever read. Here is why: Tom takes the empirical evidence from hundreds of noted historians and primary sources and begins to make a comparison of American history to today's world and more importantly to the world of tomorrow. All the while he continues to blog, writing his thoughts and collecting snippets of material from those 180+ who by way of responding, enlisted in his "Corp of Discovery" to chart a vision of the future. In the finest tradition of the Medici Effect, Tom collected all the those intersecting ideas and points of information, mulled them over in his mind, shared them with his many readers, listened to their voices, preached around the world and heard back from his audiences. Out of this mass of information he created Great Powers.

 

When I read Tom's work I am struck how much his view of American history dovetails with my own views. I am of the infamous boomer generation, but by fate was raised by my grandparents, who probably gave me as large a dose of "the Greatest Generation" as they had instilled in my mother, so I always seemed to feel more comfortable in my views of the world in that cohort group. Today, as I teach my modern American history classes, I realize that things I have tried to instill into my classes appear in Great Powers. So many have written about our history, concentrating on the great events or on our failures, as has been the case in the recent decades of navel gazing and self-loathing treatises. Tom boils it down to the really important events and persons responsible for today's rapidly connected world. Reading this book really instills pride in being part of this great and grand experiment called America.

 

Some scholarly historians may pick at Tom's grand overview, and try and shoot holes in his ship of ideas. But, in my humble opinion, their attempts would be like spitballs launched against a battleship. Tom's book is for the masses and the generation coming up that is hungry to envision a better world. To launch them on their many courses, they need to have the knowledge that the port that launched them, the United States, is more than the negatives they have heard about since they began to read and understand. As those of the next generation sail into the future they need to know that their home port is something to be proud of, and its source code of empowerment to be cherished.

Get your reading done and join us for the conversation!

Reader Comments (10)

Cool! I'm on board. I hope my copy of GP shows up tomorrow. =)
February 8, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterTom Mull
Count me in. :)
February 8, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterBrad Barbaza
Of historyguy99's take on the book, I will say that, not only is that what I was hoping to instill in readers, but those are the very same emotions that led me to write the book in the first place--I wanted a history of America that I recognized in the world around me.

And I'm not talking some wish-fulfillment or America-is-always-right. I mean a history that lived up to our immense global accomplishments, visible to anybody like myself--a true economic agent of globalization. Somebody needed to write a real history as opposed to the "economic hit man" crap or Noam Chomsky or any of that self-loathing nonsense.

And we need that sense of pride right now.
February 8, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterTom Barnett
Me too,I am hoping to get the book this week. And I would love to be part of this group.
February 8, 2009 | Unregistered Commentersue
Count me in, too. Thank you, historyguy99, nice work, sir.
February 9, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterJarrod Myrick
Count me in, too. Thank you, historyguy99, nice work, sir.
February 9, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterJarrod Myrick
I am amazed that people take that "economic hit man" stuff even semi-seriously. I started reading one of those books and threw it away - I generally have a philosophy that I will read anything, but I made an exception in that case. I am not someone who has any illusions about the willingness of big corporations to cut ethical corners, but I have some general ideas about how they operate. As I read that book, I had to repeatedly check to see if I was reading a novel - it was glaringly obvious that it had nothing to do with reality.
February 9, 2009 | Unregistered Commenterstuart abrams
I really agree with Historyguy99's comments completely. I'm only half way through (because I keep putting so many comments in the margins) but already believe it to be the best book I have read in a very long time for the reasons Historyguy has cited. Tom, this is a great book and has come at just the right time. You have anticipated so well what is now erupting in America that your optimistic analysis & wisdom has produced a Grand Strategic guide. I look forward in participating in the Junto Club.
February 9, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterElmer Humes
Unfortunately my book got sent to my old address and I have not got it yet. Hopefully by next week. =)
February 10, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterTom Mull
This is great! I have started reading Great Powers in between all of my reading for my International Politics.. I love how GP and my IP course readings dovetail nicely.. Count me in!
February 12, 2009 | Unregistered Commenterdesiree fox

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