The good folks at HarperCollins sent me a copy of America’s Prophet. The latest book by Bruce Feiler, America’s Prophet is an interesting read. Feiler takes a journey through American history and looks at times and places when American’s have looked to Moses for inspiration. America has indeed been a Christian nation and it is not surprising that during troubled times American’s should look toward Biblical characters for hope, guidance, and the aforementioned inspiration. Feiler, however, has noticed that among all the Biblical characters that Americans could turn to, Moses comes out as number one. Washington, Lincoln, and Martin Luther King, to name a few icons from American history, have all been compared to Moses. American slaves sand about Moses and Cecil B DeMille turned him into a screen legend (thanks in part to Charlton Heston).
Now Feiler is not an academic historian. Feiler is a good storyteller who has created a book that reads like part travel journal, part memoir, with history and interviews thrown in for good measure. His writing style keeps your interest. His research seems solid – the bibliography contains standard works by the leading historians in their field (James McPherson and Gabor Borritt as Civil War refrences for example). There is noting about the book that is radically outlandish. In fact I would say that Feiler has created a well written work about a subject that has received scant attention. If you have an interest in religion’s relationship to American culture and history, I’d say give America’s Prophet a read.