America's Prophet: Moses and the American Story

America's Prophet: Moses and the American Story

by Bruce Feiler


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Bruce Feiler’s New York Times bestsellers Abraham, Walking the Bible, and Where God Was Born brilliantly explored the roots of faith. With America’s Prophet, Feiler looks at Moses and the essential role the prophet has played in our nation’s history and development. Bruce Feiler’s most fascinating and thought-provoking book to date, America’s Prophet delves deeply into how the Exodus story and America’s true “Spiritual Founding Father” have inspired many of the most important figures and defining events in this country’s history—from the Mayflower Pilgrims to the Civil Rights movement—and how Moses can provide meaning in times of national crisis, even today.


Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780060574888
Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date: 10/06/2009
Pages: 352
Product dimensions: 6.00(w) x 9.10(h) x 1.50(d)

About the Author

Bruce Feiler is the author of six consecutive New York Times bestsellers, including Abraham, Where God Was Born, America's Prophet, The Council of Dads, and The Secrets of Happy Families. He is a columnist for the New York Times, a popular lecturer, and a frequent commentator on radio and television. He lives in Brooklyn with his wife and twin daughters.


New York, New York

Date of Birth:

October 25, 1964

Place of Birth:

Savannah, Georgia


B.A., Yale University, 1987; M.Phil. in international relations, Cambridge University, 1991

What People are Saying About This

Simon Winchester

“This is one of the most original, intelligent and endlessly fascinating books I have read in years: it should become a set book for anyone wanting to know what truly makes America tick.”

Douglas Brinkley

“What a smart, original, and deeply intriguing reflection on the role Moses playedyes, Mosesin U.S. history. America’s Prophet is Bruce Feiler at his innovative best: compelling, sweeping and engaging. Highly recommended!”

Tony Horwitz

“With a journalist eye and an adventurers spirit, Bruce Feiler brings his prodigious gifts of biblical analysis to a reconsideration of Moses as the essential prophet of the American Experience. This is an accessible and engaging book of indispensible insight.”

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America's Prophet: Moses and the American Story 4.2 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 20 reviews.
Holz More than 1 year ago
"America's Prophet" is original history that is based on Bruce Feiler's thorough research. The author visits American historical sites that are keys to understanding his compelling narrative on Moses as America's real founding father. These include a trip to Philadelphia to see the Liberty Bell with the quotation on its face from Leviticus 25, which God gave to Moses on Mount Sinai: "Proclaim liberty throughout all the land unto all the inhabitants thereof". Other travels take the author to the Underground Railroad locations including the Ohio River crossing location that inspired Harriet Beecher Stowe in "Uncle Tom's Cabin" to write of the slave girl Eliza carrying her son to freedom across the Ohio River. Feiler visits Saint Paul's Chapel in lower Manhattan, which survived on 9/11, for a reenactment of the inauguration of George Washington as the first President of the United States. His connection of Moses and the first President of the USA forms a superb chapter. The other excellent chapters include the Pilgrims, the Statue of Liberty, Hollywood and the Ten Commandments, and Martin Luther King, Jr. and the Civil Rights movement. All of these narratives provide very readable as well as very sound history in support of the book's title and thesis: Moses is America's Prophet and the Exodus story is America's story.
mryoda More than 1 year ago
I have been wanting to read this book for a while and it met my expectations. I particularly enjoyed the chapters on the Underground Railroad and Martin Luther King, Jr. The entire book was very informative and well organized. With a book on the theme of Moses and Promised Land, it could tend to be a little repetitive, but this did not take away from the sense of the book. I thought the author did a good job of defending his ideas. I particularly liked his courage at the end to look for lessons and to advocate for action. I do feel that America, as a nation, is divided. We need a national dialogue of some kind that helps us reconnect as a people. I'm sure that this book will develop a lot of discussion. Thank You, Mr. Feiler, for sharing your ideas with us and being willing to investigate such a intellectually curious subject.
TimDonaldson More than 1 year ago
That Moses has been a key figure in American history is an idea that seems at first misplaced and wrong. When I skipped the book on my Kindle, that was my basic thinking. But I got it for Christmas, so I gave it a shot, and. it is one of the best books I have read in a very long time. Bruce Feiler explains that the Bible spends one book (Genesis) getting to Moses, and then it spends 4 books on Moses. The history of the world, from the beginning until the Exodus from Egypt, including the Creation, the Flood, the patriarchs, Joseph, 2000 years worth, that all gets 1 book.. For the people of the Reformation, who for the first time could read the Bible in their language and have it in their possession, the Bible had some shocking and revolutionary points to make. The Bible speaks against the divine right of kings, a theory or doctrine that has been seen in almost every society of human history, one so powerful that it keeps the people down, and one so useful to rulers that they build it up. The basic idea behind the divine right is the same in Asian lands, many to this day, simply called the Mandate of Heaven. The Bible is a radical political document because monarchy is simply unbiblical. The Bible brings the Pharaohs, Emperors, Ceasars, and Kings claims to heavenly sanction crashing down to Earth. The Bible is full of prophets criticizing, judging, and condemning kings, from Moses and the Pharaoh to Samuel and Saul to Nathan and David. This is a revolutionary idea, "a veritable call to revolution." That kings rule can become slavery, a yoke of bondage that violates the freedom God gave to all of his children, is another, connected, revolutionary idea. Humans have rights, heaven doesn't write a blank check to those in power, it places moral limits on them. As late as Columbus, the Bible was not widely read in Europe. "Throughout the Middle Ages, the Roman Catholic Church, eager to monopolize its power, insisted that the Bible was so sacred it must be read only in Latin, could be interpreted only by its clergy, and had to be kept only in church. The penalty for violating these edicts could be death." Most churches didn't have a Bible, and reproducing one by hand would take 2 monks 4 years to do, working full time side by side. But once the hold that the Roman Catholic Church held on the West was broken, once there was a printing press reproducing Bibles and lowering the costs dramatically, and the scriptures were left the realm of the mystery rituals, mental revolutions began. When Bibles became owned by most families and read and spoken about as the common currency of the culture, revolutions began to happen. By 1650 1.4 million Bibles had been printed in England alone. The people could debate what the scriptures said about Henry the 8th's marriages. By the 19th Century, Americans were nearly universal in deep Biblical literacy, something lost in recent decades. The Exodus story was used as explicit inspiration for the people who left the Egypt of the Old World and came to the Promised Land, a wilderness that God would make flow with milk and honey. The Pilgrims believed they were casting off the toke of their Pharaoh, King James, and building a new Zion in the Promised Land. Their leader, William Bradford, said in 1620, when they had arrived on Cape Cod after 66 days in the stormy Atlantic, that they should thank God for their safe passage through their own Red Sea. Cotton Mather said in 1702 that any leader of a peop
MusicMom41 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I have made ¿American History¿ a priority topic the last couple of years and this was an interesting way to look at the ¿American National Story.¿ Feiler¿s premise that the story of Moses and the Israelites can be used as a metaphor for many of the major events in the history of the United States from the beginnings with the pilgrims through the founding of the United States of America and the Civil War and up to Martin Luther King and beyond is intriguing and this intelligent young man often makes a compelling case for his thesis. Some of his arguments are compelling as he shows how many of America¿s leaders actually viewed themselves in this light as evidenced by quotations from their speeches and/or their writings. However, there were often times that Feiler seemed to be stretching his examples to the breaking point and sometimes he was redundant in trying to push his point home. He is obviously passionate about the story of Moses and almost as passionate about its influence in the American psyche. As in his books about the Bible, this is a record of his personal odyssey to trace these connections. I found the book interesting and sometimes compelling, but I may be somewhat prejudiced because I knew Bruce when he was a teenager and I have long admired him as a dynamic and intelligent young man. If you are interested in American history this book gives you a different and interesting viewpoint from which to view it.
EllenH on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This book was a struggle to read, but by the last half I was glad I was doing it. Had I given up, I never would have known the connection to Moses in our country, never dreamed that he was such inspiration to our founding fathers as well as to the Statue of Liberty and the civil rights movement, even Cecil B. DeMille! But it fits, Feiler sees 3 themes, 'escaping oppression, seeking the promised land...tension between freedom and law...building a society that welcomes the outsider and uplifts the downtrodden'. It makes one think & rethink our arguments about religion & politics, that's a good that makes me think.
hermit on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Mr. Feiler develops a Mosaic narrative for America and starts with what he claims is the First Thanksgiving in North America instead of New England. Research has revealed that St. Augustine, the nation's oldest city, was the site of the nation's first Thanksgiving. Be that as it may the author continues his travels to historic sites weaving the importance to the founding and continued transformation of the U.S.A. was influenced by the story of Moses.As the author tours historic sites he finds relevant ties to support his theory of Moses and how this prophet works into the very fabric of America, our country's history and it's future. As referenced above Mr. Feiler jumps to the Puritans to start his memoir of his travels with Thanksgiving and the Passover and brings us through important turning points in history to the present day.The writing though a bit verbose is interesting and recounts history from those who live in the area the events took place and the historical records and later in the book the author is able to interview some who were actually in some way involved with the events in history he speaks of like the civil Rights Movements of the 1960's. And he follows a few steps of the underground railroad but gets the reason for the Civil War and the Emancipation Proclamation wrong but with good intention and probably what he was taught. The Proclamation was a necessary measure designed to deprive the Confederacy of slave labor, bring additional men into the Union Army and mainly to stop England from supporting the Confederacy.The Emancipation Proclamation actually did not free any slaves for the Southern States did not recognize the authority of President Lincoln to govern their affairs and in the North, it was beyond the powers of the President to actually abolish slavery in any state. But it does help in Mr. Feiler's narrative as President Lincoln as the Moses of the time and takes us another step away from history.But the author's narrative of the underground railroad is very interesting as is the symbolism he shows attached to the Liberty Bell and the Statue of Liberty and how the American People made these symbols of Liberty that are still strong to this day the world over. The famous and brave people the author picks out to tie their story into his theory are important and interesting. Some include Thomas Paine, George Washington, Harriet Tubman, Harriet Beecher Stowe, Abraham Lincoln, C.B DeMille, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr, Ronald Reagan,George W. Bush and others. The analogy of Moses even made it's way into comics such as Superman.Of course the author relates his own families Passover celebration with us and how he will share the Exodus story with is children when they ask. His answer is a good one and so is the summation of his book. America is the promise land for many but more important is the legacy of hope for a better tomorrow. It is the author belief and hope that Moses will continue to inspire new generations to renew the story of freedom.
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Yehuda78 More than 1 year ago
Very fascinating book- really shows how the Old Testament is relevant to our times.His research was thorough. Amazing how the author ties in the Old Testament to things which have occured in the U.S.Christianity is still really tied to many ways I love the expression "there is a little Jew in everybody" even though some are upset by this reference. Once I started reading the book on a cruise could not put the book down!
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