American Heroes: Profiles of Men and Women Who Shaped Early by Edmund S. Morgan

By Edmund S. Morgan

“A clever, humane and fantastically written book.”―Bret Stephens, Wall highway Journal

From the best-selling writer of Benjamin Franklin comes this outstanding paintings that may support redefine our idea of yank heroism. american citizens have lengthy been keen about their heroes, however the women and men dramatically portrayed listed below are no longer celebrated for the common banal purposes contained in Founding Fathers hagiography. without problems not easy those that persist in revering the yankee heritage establishment and its tropes and falsehoods, Morgan, now ninety-three, keeps to think that the prior is not how it turns out.

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Listening to their story was Peter Martyr, member of the King’s Council for the Indies and possessor of an insatiable curiosity about the new land that Spain was uncovering in the west. How, the learned man asked them, did they know that the ferocious animal was a tiger? ” It was a good answer. Men, confronted with things they do not recognize, turn to the writings of those who have had a wider experience. And in 1513 it was still assumed that the ancient writers had had a wider experience than those who came after them.

And while he had the genius of simplicity, the nerve to act on a thought, he never shone at the things one learned from books. Yet he studied these books, made hundreds of marginal notations in them, and came out with ideas about the world that were characteristically simple and strong and sometimes wrong, the kind of ideas that the self-educated person gains from independent reading and clings to in defiance of what anyone else tries to tell him. The strongest one was a wrong one—namely, that the distance between Europe and the eastern shore of Asia was short.

The Jesuit missionary José de Acosta, sailing to Peru in 1570, still thought it proper to prepare himself by reading what the old writers had said of lands in that latitude, and having read he feared the worst. The heat, they said, would be too great for human life, the sun too hot to bear. But arriving in Peru in what was summer there, the month of March, he found the weather so cold that he welcomed the chance to bask in the sun. ” America released Father Acosta from Aristotle’s error, and it almost released him from the Bible, too.

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