Review by Choice Review
The Declaration of Independence is known the world over as the fundamental abstract base of the US--an evocative statement of its mores, values, and goals. Several volumes have sought to correct the record of its composition, uncover its source of ideas, and recount the story of its adoption, yet few have succeeded in disclosing its importance as the foundational document of US civil religion. Sadly, this volume is another example of the former while aspiring to be among the latter. Armitage (Harvard) begins where Pauline Maier's essential American Scripture (CH, Nov'97, 35-1726) ends; in the process, however, he restates accepted assessments. Whereas Maier thoroughly examined the composition process of the document, Armitage seems content to stroke the patriotic ego by asserting its global importance. He gives but scant recognition of the later acceptance of ideas that possess universal appeal by merely touting Jeffersonian influence of a document that, in its construction, relied on the ideas of others. As such, the work becomes a beginner's guide, rather than a substantive volume. As dynamic as Armitage's work is, this reviewer is not convinced that it is a vital addition to existing scholarship. Summing Up: Recommended. General readers and lower-division undergraduates, especially those in need of a concise introduction. M. J. C. Taylor Dickinson State University
Copyright American Library Association, used with permission.
Review by Booklist Review
In this survey of the Declaration of Independence's immediate and long-term influence, Armitage argues that its initial effect was on international law, by its assertion of a new state claiming equality with other states. By contrast, all men are created equal took much longer to take hold in the world. Aware of the Declaration's innovation in international affairs, British commentary strove to refute the Declaration's justifications for the British colonies becoming independent: both historian Edward Gibbon and philosopher Jeremy Bentham lent their intellects to the anti-independence case. Once the successful War of Independence settled the matter, Armitage impresses how the Declaration acquired milestone symbolism in the international system, its phrases sometimes copied verbatim in the numerous declarations of independence that have accompanied the world's transition from empires to states. Containing texts of a dozen such declarations, Armitage's readable study restores historical context to our own, truly revolutionary Declaration. --Gilbert Taylor Copyright 2006 Booklist
From Booklist, Copyright (c) American Library Association. Used with permission.
Review by Publisher's Weekly Review
Harvard history professor Armitage (Greater Britain, 1516- 1776: Essays in Atlantic History) examines how America's Declaration of Independence influenced the revolutionary struggles of people around the world. Armitage begins by teasing out the world as the Declaration imagined it: the international community consisted of "peoples linked by both benign and malign forms of commerce," as well as divided by warfare and "threatened by outlaw powers." He then describes how the world reacted to America's Declaration: it almost immediately sparked debate about the basis on which a state was legitimate. Finally, Armitage traces the ripple effects of the Declaration: today half the world's countries have such declarations. The author compares and contrasts these other documents with the American one, showing how other nascent nations sometimes drew on America's language and ideas, such as a statement of grievances. Armitage suggests that this succession of declarations constitutes "a major transition in world history": what was once a world of empires has become a world of sovereign states. This core argument is fascinating and significant, though lengthy appendixes, including several declarations, will interest primarily scholars. (Jan.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved
(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved
Review by Library Journal Review
Armitage (history, Harvard Univ.; The Ideological Origins of the British Empire) presents and analyzes the global influence of the Declaration of Independence, showing the document as a powerful global symbol and a means of generating self-governing nations elsewhere during the 50 years after its creation. In order to understand the declaration's international impact, Armitage examines the development of like declarations in other nations during the 19th century, presenting samples of them from around the world. He seeks to recover "the meaning of independence that the Declaration claimed for the United States," and he raises thoughtful questions about the political interdependence among world states. His new perspectives concerning both the domestic and the international context of the declaration demonstrate its importance in the formation of nations as the primary units in global politics. Highly recommended for public and university libraries.-Steven Puro, St. Louis Univ. (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
(c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.