THE DEATH OF A NATION
By Dinesh D’Souza
A book review by Jim “Gymbeaux” Brown August 24, 2018
Perspective: I am 73 years old, went to public schools in the 50’s and 60’s and like most kids of that era we took classes on history and civics. My history classes consisted mostly of American history, in fact I do not remember ever taking any courses on World History. Our civics classes dealt mostly with government organization as it was in the 50’s and 60’s, not how it grew to the massive government we now live with. With that being the case, I can assure you that nowhere in my recollection of my training in history was I ever exposed to some of the details contained in D’Souza’s book(s). For me it was an eye-opener! The following paragraphs in quotes are taken directly from the book. I thought that a direct quote referring to something you the reader may or may not know would be the best example of the facts contained in the book. The following six paragraphs are as they appear in the book in the order they were presented. Fact check them if you don’t believe them.
“The magnificent scope of Republican Reconstruction can be seen in three landmark constitutional amendments: the Thirteenth Amendment abolishing slavery; the Fourteenth Amendment extending equal rights under the law to all citizens; and the Fifteenth Amendment granting blacks the right to vote. These amendments went beyond unbinding the slave and making him a freeman; they also made him a U.S. citizen with the right to cast his ballot and to the full and equal protection of the laws.
These amendments represented the most important moment for American constitutionalism since the Constitution was first drafted and ratified. The entire civil rights movement of the 1960s would be impossible without them.
The Civil Rights Act of 1964 relied heavily on the equal protection clause of the Fourteenth Amendment and the Voting Rights Act of 1965 on the Fifteenth Amendment.
Yet progressive (those left of the political center) historical accounts as well as progressive textbooks say very little about the debate over the Thirteenth, Fourteenth and Fifteenth Amendments. The reason becomes obvious when we break down the partisan vote on those amendments. One might have thought that after the Civil War, the Thirteenth Amendment would be a fait accompli. One might expect that every Democrat—at least every Northern Democrat represented in Congress—would now vote for it. In fact, only sixteen of eighty Democrats did.
Let’s pause to digest that for a minute. Even in the aftermath of the Civil War, so strong was their attachment to the plantation that an overwhelming majority of Northern Democrats refused to vote to permanently end slavery. Again, we are speaking of Northern Democrats; Southern Democrats who may have been expected to vote against the amendment were not permitted to vote at all. And when the Thirteenth Amendment went to the states for ratification, only Republican states carried by Lincoln voted for it; Democratic states that went for McClellan all voted no.
On the Fourteenth and Fifteenth Amendments, the Democratic Party’s performance was even more disgraceful. Not a single Democrat, either in the House or the Senate, voted for either amendment. To repeat, these were not Southern Democrats who were excluded from voting; these were Northern Democrats so averse to extending equal rights under law or voting rights to blacks that not a single one of them could bring himself to vote for either measure. So the Fourteenth and Fifteenth Amendments can be considered exclusively Republican achievements, since no Democrats contributed to making them part of the Constitution.”
The book is filled with such FACTS that anyone can fact check. The Death of a Nation is a history book that I doubt a great many Americans such as me have ever heard before. I remember the Civil War taking up a short section in our text books and it basically read that there was a war where a lot of people were killed and it involved the North fighting the South and visa versa over the subject of slavery and that the North won the war. Before you say I am wrong on the brevity of that statement, ask yourself about how much YOU know about the Civil War as it was taught in schools not what you might have later read in books or watched in a documentary?
This is a tremendous read! It is also a disheartening read. It shows America as it was as it was being built and molded. What you read about on almost every page will turn your stomach.
If you consider yourself left of center you probably will NOT read the book or watch the movie and therein is the problem. Those who make that decision will continue with a belief system that may be based on flawed and misleading information. Those to the right of center will read and/or watch the movie and they may be surprised as I was as to how bad American history was “back in the day.” After all these years, a lot has not gotten much better as D’Souza points out.
I have read many Twitter posts of people who criticize the book/movie claiming that the facts contained in each are lies told by D’Souza. But in all of their posts, no one has ever given even one example of such a lie contained in the book/movie. They assume he is lying but provide no proof and that is the worst kind of criticism. People do not seem to understand that he pendulum swings in both directions. What people on the Left of Center believe to be permissible behavior by those Left of Center could very easily be on the receiving end of such treatment when the pendulum evenutally swings in the other direction.
Who should read the book? Every American from the 5th grade and above and especially those who call themselves Democrats. I grew up in a Democratic city in Ohio. I actually liked what I saw in JFK but the Democratic Party depicted in this book is NOT the party of JFK but instead has become an extension of Woodrow Wilson, FDR and more recently LBJ and Obama. If you fact check the book you will understand why that particular legacy is not a good thing. Would I read the book again? Probably not; don’t need to read it twice to understand it. I will go see the movie. Would I give the book as a gift? That is a great question because someone buying it as a gift may be just wasting their money if the recipient makes no attempt to read it. Again, anyone left of the political center will most likely choose NOT to read it and some will even criticize it; both definitely their loss.