America’s Prophet by Bruce Feiler

America’s Prophet:  How the Story of Moses Shaped America by Bruce Feiler
Published by Harper Perennial, an imprint of HarperCollins

Since the birth of the United States, over the course of four hundred years, one historical figure has had more impact on this country than any other:  Moses.  At least, that’s the premise that Bruce Feiler sets out to show the reader in America’s Prophet.  From the Mayflower to the Statue of Liberty to Abraham Lincoln to Barack Obama, important figures and moments in US history have been shaped and inspired by Moses, and Feiler traces how this one biblical prophet molded this country into what it is today.

I was very intrigued by the premise of America’s Prophet because while I’ve always known that the US was founded on Christian principles and biblical ideals, I’d never thought of Moses as having such a pivotal role in everything as Feiler argues in this book.  I’d just never considered that idea, and according to Feiler’s research, it does seem to be the case.

I hadn’t read any of Bruce Feiler’s other books prior to this one, and I was very impressed by both the quality of his writing and the detail of his research.  He presented his case both carefully and thoughtfully, and I was surprised and enlightened to find out how much of history was influenced by Moses – he really did have an incredible impact on the United States. I loved seeing how so many pivotal moments in our history mirrored something Moses said, did, or experienced.  The whole concept was very interesting to me.

America’s Prophet is heavy with research, and as such it did get a bit boring for me from time to time.  However, most of the chapters were interesting enough to keep me turning the pages.  The section on Martin Luther King, Jr. was by far my favorite of the entire book.  Feiler drew very convincing parallels between Moses and MLK, and as King is an incredibly inspiring figure in history, it’s always fun for me to read more about him.  For me, this chapter alone made the entire book worth my time.  The book was good anyway, but reading about Dr. King was by far the best thing about it.

I would definitely recommend America’s Prophet to anyone interested in history, religion, and/or the intersection of the two.  This is a solid work of nonfiction, and I’m now interested in reading more from Bruce Feiler.

13 thoughts on “America’s Prophet by Bruce Feiler”

  1. I think a lot of it has to do with the fact that Moses was like one of the first “superheroes” of literature– an almost larger-than-life figure who comes in to save everybody. I’m not religious, but I think the writers of the Bible (whoever/whatever they were) were pretty smart to do that because it’s fun to think of our leaders that way– very inspirational! This is is a really interesting idea for a book. Thanks for suggesting!

    1. He is definitely looked at as a superhero type figure, but one of the reasons (according to Feiler) he is looked upon so fondly is that he was so very human. Unlike Jesus, he was not perfect and did make a lot of mistakes along the way. He also fought with God and questioned His path for him, which is something that all of us believers can relate to.

  2. Of worth noting may be that many of the founding fathers – Tommy Jeff, for example – were Deists, not exactly Christians. In fact, it is said that Thomas Jefferson cut out all the passages of his bible that were not completely, merely ethical secular ideals.

  3. For some reason I have been reading a lot of stuff lately about the way America mythologizes its history, and it’s fascinating. I love the idea for this book!

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