Paul Johnson: a History of the American People

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What are the most important, meaningful, and interesting things you learned in your reading of the Preface & Part I of Paul Johnson’s “A History of the American People”? What do you think of the author’s perspective?

Paul Johnson’s “A History of the American People” serves as a concise summary of the foundation of the United States of America, a nation that has had more impact on the world today than perhaps any other. Johnson’s work starts from the earliest beginnings of Europeans in America and traces the evolution that our nation has experienced up to the modern time. Johnson highlights some of the fundamental differences between American history and that of practically all other nations. Unlike other countries, we have original documents dating back to the origins of the United States that explain who was responsible for what in the creation of our state. Furthermore, the United States, unlike any other country at the time, was founded on the principles of equality, liberty, and democracy. Finally, Johnson explains that there are still many black marks on the history of the United States, open for all to see, that we must correct for if we are to continue as a model for the entire world. For practically all countries today, we don’t have a full account of their history. We might have some sort of documentation of how things were centuries back; however, we know very little of what happened. It is only the more modern times that are well documented and can be studied in great detail and accuracy. The United States is a very notable exception to this rule. We have detailed recordings of everything that went on during the creation of our nation and the steps that led up to it. Practically all of the Europeans that ventured to the New World kept journals of what they found and what they thought of it. Many of these primary-source documents are heavily biased, but they still serve as very useful guides for trying to understand things as they...
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