What is America?

Ronald Wright
24 September, 2008

Why you should listen

Ronald Wright

Best-selling Canadian author Ronald Wright looks deep into the past of the United States to answer the compelling question of: what is America? In this fascinating lecture, Wright, the author of the award-winning A Short History of Progress and the recently released What Is America? A Short History of the New World Order sets out to understand “why it is that every so often unpalatable and extremist administrations come to power in that country.” With the former Bush Administration clearly in his sights – “the Bush regime took the United States further to the political right than any other major western country since 1945,” he states – Wright attempts to separate the facts of America’s colonial past from the ongoing myths of its frontier ideals. The British-born Wright contends that Washington’s reaction to the terrorist attack of 2001, where the Administration “trampled on its own constitution” and instigated an “unjust war on terror”, demands a re-examination of that country’s essence. “Is America what it thinks it is? Is America what the world has long believed it to be?” “America has always thought of itself as the country of the future, the most modern country on earth,” Wright has said. “But it seems to have become stuck in an archaic attitude.” Wright is an award-winning novelist, historian and essayist and the author of nine books, including the bestsellers Time Among the Maya and Stolen Continents. His 2004 book A Short History of Progress, based on his Massey Lectures, won the CBA Libris Award for non-fiction Book of the Year. He is a frequent contributor to the Times Literary Supplement and his books have been published in more than a dozen languages.

“The United States didn’t grow in a vacuum of its ideals” Ronald Wright on America’s colonial past.