HISTORY

How Special Is the USA?

There’s no doubt that America’s reputation has tarnished over the last eight years. But two new books ask whether America was really all that special to begin with. Godfrey Hodgson’s The Myth of American Exceptionalism and Jedediah Purdy’s A Tolerable Anarchy, examine the United States’ hubristic sentiment that America’s experiment with liberty distinguishes it from the rest of the world. Purdy is more accepting of the idea of American exceptionalism, calling it a “living tradition;” Hodgson, on the other hand, thinks it’s not all that, writing that America is “less exceptional than is often claimed.”