Russell Kirk: The Roots of American Order

Intercollegiate Studies Institute Books, 2003 (?) (1974)

From the Publisher’s Website:

Kirk RootsWhat holds America together? In this classic work, Russell Kirk describes the beliefs and institutions that have nurtured the American soul and commonwealth. Beginning with the Hebrew prophets, Kirk examines in dramatic fashion the sources of American order. His analytical narrative might be called “a tale of five cities”: Jerusalem, Athens, Rome, London, and Philadelphia. For an understanding of the significance of America at the dawn of a new century, Russell Kirk’s masterpiece on the history of American civilization is unsurpassable. This edition includes a new foreword by the distinguished historian Forrest McDonald.

What They’re Saying:

“The Roots of American Order is destined to be accorded a distinctive status…. Kirk is one of the few intellectuals with the breadth and depth of knowledge necessary to place the American experience in the broader historical perspective of our Judaic-Christian tradition.”  The Wall Street Journal

“[T]his is a most impressive affirmation of faith in American ideals and institutions.”  Publisher’s Weekly

“[A]nyone who wishes to reflect and talk on the topic ‘America,’ and especially any Christian who wishes to do so, will do himself a favor if he reads Kirk’s book.”  Christianity Today

“Kirk’s book is exactly what people need to read, and he has made it easy, even pleasurable, for them to do so.”  Esquire

From the Front and Back Flaps of the First Edition:

What holds America together? In this big lively book, Russell Kirk describes the beliefs and the institutions which have nurtured the order of the soul and the order of the commonwealth in the United States.

Beginning with the Hebrew prophets, Dr. Kirk examines in dramatic fashion the sources of inner and outer order – which Simone Weil calls “the first need of all”. His analytical narrative might be called “a tale of five cities”: Jerusalem, Athens, Rome, London, Philadelphia. For understanding the significance of America’s bicentenary, we need to look at both ancient and modern roots.

Among the powerful influences which Kirk discusses are the Hebrew understanding of the Covenant, Hellenic philosophy, Roman law and moral concepts, Christian doctrine, English common law and parliamentary government, medieval universities, the Protestant Reformation, seventeenth-Century controversies in church and state, the American colonial experience, and eighteenth-century political speculation.

Solon, Plato, Cicero, St. Paul, St. Augustine, John of Brienne, Pico della Mirandola, Richard Hooker, John Knox, John Bunyan, Jonathan Edwards, Abraham Lincoln, Orestes Brownson – these are a few of the men of mark whom Kirk depicts colorfully, reminding us of T. S. Eliot’s lines, “The Communication of the dead is tongued with fire beyond the language of the living”. He renews the meaning of such political thinkers as Aristotle, Hobbes, Locke, Montesquieu, Hume, Blackstone, and Burke; and he offers original reflections upon the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution.

About Russell Kirk (The Russell Kirk Center)    Wikipedia

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Jan Olof Bengtsson D.Phil. (Oxon.)

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