Boorstin Critique Essay

Submitted By solidsnake78902
Words: 2823
Pages: 12

William Smith
Modern American History
Boorstin Critique
29JAN09

American History has been presented in many forms. Students today often receive it in a textbook format or something of that sort. The writing style and format is usually based on giving facts is succession, thus leaving the reader disconnected from history learning. These textbooks are based on a broad fact timeline; they ignore the smaller revolutions that do not occur on battlefields. The Americans: The Democratic Experience by Daniel Boorstin does something different. It brings the reader into American History and allows him to understand the little things that shaped American life. Boorstin has written an interesting book that allows the reader look at American History in an atypical way. The book’s strengths and weaknesses engaged me in a unique way, compared to the styles presented to me in my previous experience. Boorstin begins the book with a fascinating thesis that ultimately explains his presiding theme. I found this thesis to be interesting because of its unordinary take on an ordinary theme of history. Many history textbooks simply base their content on each major revolution that occurred in the time period they wish to analyze. Common history books provide a chronology of events that often ignore individuals and community feeling, while focusing on government or majority leaders. Boorstin’s thesis states that he will not be doing this. He takes the ordinary theme of revolution and surprisingly chooses to focus on the smaller, more subtle revolutions that occurred in places that you could find all over America. He argues that the changes that occurred in the country happened in places you would not think to look. This fact provided me with a hook, being that he intended to explain what it felt like to be an American rather than simply providing a timeline. The next step for me was to discover if the evidence was there, and feel history in a different way. Boorstin proves his points in a very persuasive way. He takes a specific idea or theory and gives many examples to prove it or strengthen it. For example, his main theory of American Go-Getters is a theme that Boorstin uses throughout his book clarifying multiple points along the way. He begins the book by defining the term and provides examples of individuals that he feels are Go-Getters, but he reinforces his theory constantly using the idea of Go-Getters as he attempts to prove other points such as the formation of communities or the new American thought processes. One of Boorstin’s favorite Go-Getters, John D. Rockefeller, is used to establish Go-Getter morality and to explain the effect of corporations on the Democratic Experience. Boorstin allows the reader to first get to know the individual by providing background information. Boorstin conveys his passion for Go-Getters, particularly Rockefeller, to the reader through his language and the sources he uses when providing facts. He takes information from A Study in Power: John D. Rockefeller: The Heroic Age of American Enterprise which portrays Rockefeller as a philanthropist. This allows the reader to feel as if they know Rockefeller and understand why Boorstin feels the way he does about the people he describes. Boorstin describes a revolution that occurred in America and uses an example based on specific individuals in each section; subsequently this allows the reader take a personal view on the subject. Boorstin’s overall style is particularly important and is a profound factor for the reader’s experience in the book. Each section is separated into a particular theme allowing for ease of reading. I also noticed that this book can be read in almost any order allowing for multiple starting points. On the contrary, I read the book from start to finish, and I found that this method lets you get to know some individuals that Boorstin uses multiple times in the book. Examples of this include, Rockefeller, G. Stanley Hall, John Dewey,…