I was delighted that a book I learned about from Diane Rehm's interview December 22, 2009 with Bruce Feiler, is such an extraordinary read.
Well organized, so that each chapter could stand on its, with a personal narrative woven throughout, Feiler draws the major American cultural and historical events connected to Moses -- in Egypt, at Pesach, around the Golden Calf, and at Mt. Nebo. Particularly challenging to some will be the reflections on Martin Luther King, Jr., perhaps because we are still so close to him so that living witnesses abound, and perhaps because, as Feiler notes, there is a considerable cultural mythologizing practice going on around the memory and meaning of MLK. For most of his other material, there is enough historical distance so that even those who disagree with his interpretations can, nonetheless, read, ponder, and go away being little disturbed.
He draws the Puritans close and the Beecher family even closer. He reenacts the midnight...
Feiler traces the uses to which the character Moses has been put during the entire American experience - from the Pilgrims to the Civil Rights movement. His prose is eminently readable and enjoyable, and his history is accurate. More impressive, his research strategies exceed the traditional techniques of library search; he goes into unusual places (like the crown of the Statue of Liberty or a home on the Ohio River that was a stop on the Underground Railroad) and emerges with novel and frequently amusing insights and anecdotes. This is a wonderful book that every American ought to read.
I haven't finished reading the book yet, but I'm really enjoying it. I've found out a lot about the Liberty Bell, some of the historic buildings, and the Underground Railroad, to name a few. It's a good read and is well researched,
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