Thursday, November 04, 2010

Book Review: "America's Prophet" by Bruce Feiler


Hailed as one of the most original works of history in years, America's Prophet reveals how generations of Americans have been inspired by the story of Moses.

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 him as inspiration. For four hundred years, one figure has inspired more Americans than any other. His name is Moses.

Traveling through touchstones in American history, bestselling author Bruce Feiler traces the biblical prophet's influence from the Mayflower through today. Meticulously researched and highly readable, America's Prophet is a thrilling, original work of history that will forever change how we view America, our faith, and our future.

Due to being a history major in college, I usually make it a point not to review popular history books. This isn't because I don't like them and only read academic history books. Far from it in fact. I adore popular history and actually wish we had studied more of them in my classes. It's because I spent the last 6 years analyzing and nitpicking history reads from a scholarly view that now I just want to sit back and enjoy reading a history for pleasure. However when I was introduced to this book I knew that this was one that I really want to read. Not only am I a history major but I'm also studied religion in college. I mainly grew up knowing religion strictly from a Evangelical Christian background so I was excited to learn more from an academic point of view.

I am also a HUGE fan of the Ten Commandments movie. My family watches it every year when it comes on TV during Easter. Growing up, my sisters and I used to pretend we were characters in the movie and reenact several scenes from the movie (mud pits, Jethro's daughters dancing, Red Sea). It's a movie that has always been a part of our lives and one we consider a classic. Thanks to this and Sunday School, Moses has always been a part of my life. So for all these reasons, I was looking forward to reading this book.

I wasn't sure what to expect because I've never really liked reading much religious history nonfiction. This is mainly due to the author of the book usually inserting their own beliefs into their writings. I prefer when the writing is objective and just shows what the book is about. I was so thrilled when I started reading this book. The book is extremely well written and extremely well researched.

I loved how the book was sectioned off into different chapters that helped to prove Feiler's theory about how Moses is ingrained into American culture and history. From the founding fathers to Abraham Lincoln, from the Underground Railroad to the Statue of Liberty, Feiler shows how each aspect of American history has its roots back to Moses. He doesn't pull random things and try to connect them back to Moses. It's actually very evident and rather obvious when you think about it. It's a part of our country's history that we can't ignore yet we seem to have pushed it aside. The three major religions in the US all revere him so it's not as if it's really offensive to a religion. You can't remove him from history.


One exciting aspect while reading was the section about St. Paul's Chapel in Manhattan. This was because that very same day, I had visited the church in person. I found this very exciting and an extremely rare experience to unintentionally read about a place you visited that very same day.

Overall this book was a really enthralling read. The style of writing was very easy to read and draws the reader into the story. Feiler fills the book with lots of research but writes it in a way that connects to the reader. Mixed in with historical facts are pop culture trivia that makes the book not feel like a dull read. I haven't read any of his other books yet but after reading this one I really want to go back and read the rest. Since I am a big fan of religious history and now a fan of Feiler's works, I have a feeling that his other books will be both educational and enjoyable for me. For anyone who is looking for a popular history book that is a good read, this is perfect for you. HIGHLY recommended.

America's Prophet by Bruce Feiler is published by Harper Perennial (2010)

This review copy was provided for a blog tour with TLC Book Tours

2 comments:

  1. Thanks for the review, this book sounds really good!

    ReplyDelete
  2. I'm so glad that you enjoyed this one! It sounds like a fascinating combination of religion and history - something that I'm totally into.

    Thanks for being a part of this tour!

    ReplyDelete

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