Sunday, January 9, 2011

The 5000 Year Leap - Book 1, 52 in 52

The 5000 Year Leap: A Miracle That Changed the World by W. Cleon Skousen should be a must read for every American high school student. It enumerates 28 major principles that the Founders used as a basis for establishing the republic of America and writing the US Constitution. Some of the principles are familiar to all Americans including "all men are created equal" and "the separation of powers". Others such as "without religion the government of a free people cannot be maintained", "all things were created by God, therefore upon Him all mankind are equally dependent, and to him they are equally responsible", or "a constitution should be structured to permanently protect the people from the human frailties of their rulers" are ideas that are rarely discussed in these present times. This isn't really a commentary of one author's opinion of the beliefs of the founding fathers but rather it is more of a look at the founder's beliefs in their own words since large portions of the book are direct quotations from the founding fathers from various letters as well as works such as The Federalist Papers. There are also extensive explanations of the sources for many of their ideas from men such as Cicero, Montesquieu, John Locke, and Adam Smith with further quotations from their works. There are sprinklings of commentary at various points of the book detailing when and how America has shifted away from some of the principles, but the bulk of the material focuses on the principles themselves, where they came from, and what they meant to the founding fathers.

It is one of the best primers on the beliefs of the founding fathers that I have read, and I would definitely recommend it for every American. I am definitely planning on having my kids read and discuss it with me when they are ready for a more detailed study of the US Constitution. I think I'll have to break down and buy my own copy this time, so I can mark it up, make notes, and take more time to slowly digest all of the information in there.

No comments: