Skip to main content

American Civilization

By Charles A. Jones

This thought-provoking book demonstrates that, far from being a unique entity, the United States is the most American of nations. It shares with its neighbors to the south an aspiration for equal opportunities and freedoms in a society both defined and divided by race. As Charles A. Jones points out, the United States is distinguished from its neighbors chiefly by the greater material capabilities it has been able to apply to this historic task. Although it is sometimes regarded as Western, Jones points out the extremes to which the United States differs from Western Europe: from distinctive levels and styles of religiosity to public violence to respect for law to concern with material accumulation. These traits, far from constituting a claim to exceptionality, bind the U.S. firmly to the rest of the American hemisphere. In fact, Jones argues, it was separated only by the strange accident of historiography that created a “Latin” America little more than a century ago. He projects that these perceived differences between the United States and its southern neighbors will fade in the near future, and looks forward to a truly inclusive America.

Get daily updates from Brookings