Book of the Month

Back to February 2013 Ed Reporter

Book of the Month

The Politically Incorrect Guide to Real American Heroes, Brion McClanahan, Ph.D., Regnery Publishing, 2012, 272 pp., $19.95

The Politically Incorrect Guide to Real American Heroes presents an assortment of Americans from various time periods in a variety of professions. These people are inspiring and their stories instill pride in America and even offer the occasional taste of adventure.

Among the quintessential American characteristics that have led to national success are: dedication, bravery, individual responsibility, self-discipline, and self-reliance. Brion McClanahan believes that today the very characteristics that previously made men and women heroic are now viewed negatively, or seen as simply quaint. Furthermore, some heroes we should herald have been forgotten.

George Washington, who faced and overcame “the greatest military in the world at that time,” is now remembered on a holiday shared with all presidents.

Schoolchildren may know the name Robert E. Lee, but most fail to understand the personal crisis he faced in turning away from the nation he loved so dearly to lead the South into battle. Knowledge of the character of the man would help students to understand the complexities of the Civil War, instead of accepting the misconception that it was a simplistic wrong vs. right undertaking.

Juliette Gordon Low is a feminist hero for founding the Girl Scouts, but from her own words it is apparent that today’s morals would appall her. She said, “Many a boy has been strengthened in his character and his whole life made happier by the brave refusal of a girl to do wrong; while the opposite weakness has been the cause of endless misery and wretchedness.”

Instead of demonizing 19th-century businessmen for use as “propaganda for modern class warfare,” the author suggests Americans should learn about the character traits that made John D. Rockefeller and Andrew Carnegie successful, and the ways that both were dedicated to bettering the world.

S.B. Fuller, the wealthiest Black American in the 1960s, lost everything because he spoke freely against trying to legislate equality for his race. He believed that achieving economic equality was the best way to reach racial equality.

In the section on “Frauds,” McClanahan exposes people currently held up as heroes who are not heroic. For example, John Dewey’s goal to modernize education through “modification of traditional ideals of culture, traditional subjects of study, and traditional methods of teaching and discipline” is responsible for many of the problems in American schools today.

This book is suitable for children until the author addresses the serial philandering of the Kennedy clan.