Ideals & History of Democracy Discussed by Gordon S. Wood

Interview & Review

                                                            Newport Seen Exclusive


Gordon S. Wood signs books at The Redwood Library

World famous historian and educator Gordon S. Wood discussed topics from his new book The Idea of America: Reflections on the Birth of the United States, and graciously signed copies of his new book of essays, profoundly pertinent to the democracy and what the American model means in the 21st century, at Newport's Redwood Library & Athanaeum's Salon Series.


An eager audience listened to the Pulitzer Prize winning Professor Emeritus of History  at Brown University, and asked relevant questions about the movements for democratic government in the "Arab Republic", the Middle Eastern states currently embroiled in civil unrest.  The series was introduced by Carolyn DuPont, and Douglas Riggs, former Chairman of the Board of Directors, who welcomed Dr. Wood to the podium.

Speaking about democracy in the Arab Nation

Dr. Wood, Alva O. Way University Professor, is a rare historian who understand the strands of history, the principals, and how they are intertwined and interrelated.  His books have won numerous awards, including the Pulitzer Prize for history for The Radicalism of the American Revolution. Professor Wood reviews for the New York Review of Books and The New Republic. He is a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and the American Philosophical Society.


Listening attentively to Professor Wood's remarks, and asking fascinating questions,  were Captain Nicholas Brown and Diane Brown, Jim Moore, George Herrick, and Matt Parent.

Newport Seen interviewed Dr. Wood after the lecture:


The audience of history buffs

NS:  How early in your education did your interest in American history manifest itself?

GSW: I was always interested in history but I originally thought I would go into the Foreign Service. My experience in the military convinced me that I didn't want to work for the government, so I applied to graduate school.


NS: You seem so well versed in the personal characteristics of our founding fathers: which is your favorite? Why?

GSW: George Washington. He stood head and shoulders above all the other founders in their estimation. He was the only one who may have been indispensable.


NS: The thread in your books and lectures is causality and interconnection. How are the historical influences throughout U.S. history so comprehensible to you?

The Arab Nation poses unique problems for a democratic


GSW: I think that historical sense comes to any historian who studies the past long and deeply enough.


NS: What do you consider to be the biggest dilemma of democracy?


GSW:  How to maintain a sense of equality when we are obviously not equal, and protect individual liberties and minority rights while still respecting the rule by a majority.


NS: Your final essay in The Idea of America deals with how democracy may manifest in Egypt and the Middle East, i.e., "Arab Democracy". What is your best prediction of how that will look?


GSW: I would be pessimistic about the future of democracy in the Middle East, at least in the short term. The interests are diverse and the people have little experience with it.


NS: Are Christianity, Muslimism , and other religions major determinants in the success or failure of a democratic system?


Matt Parent with Dr. Wood and a book buyer

GSW: I don't think they are determinants but they can be hindrances

NS: What is your next book?

GSW: I am editing some "Library of America" volumes on the writings of John Adams.


                                                                          --  L.P.



Carolyn DuPont of the Redwood, Presenter Douglas

Riggs, and Dr. Wood checking his notes

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