At the heart of The American Soul is a call to rediscover the timeless truths hidden within the founding vision of the American nation. Embedded in the ideals of democracy, individual liberty and freedom of conscience is a view of human nature that echoes essential aspects of the wisdom that has guided every great civilization of the world. Free of all religious and philosophical dogma, and liberated from all historical and political clichés, this uniquely American vision has the power to speak again to the modern world's need for meaning and community
Throughout the book, Jacob Needleman takes a new sounding of the inner beliefs and spiritual sensibilities of the great iconic figures of American history. His uniquely conceived portraits show us Washington as the great symbol of selfless impartiality; Jefferson as the embodiment of the communal search for truth, Franklin as the seeker of knowledge in two worlds. Lincoln emerges as the incarnation of the ideal of the individual; Frederick Douglass as the voice of America's conscience; the story of the Iroquois constitution reveals the cosmic dimensions of our own ideal of democracy.
Needleman shows how the crimes and defeats of America-slavery, the destruction of the culture of the American Indian, the Vietnam war-cry out for a clear vision of America asleep to its own spiritual essence, while bringing home the depth of what America owes to its own people and to the earth itself.
Finally, following an illuminating discussion of what we need to learn from America's all but forgotten early mystical communities, Needleman concludes with a resounding call, echoing Walt Whitman's quest for a new American mythology, to understand what is truly eternal and indestructible in the American vision.
"While Needleman clearly finds much to love about America, he balances our light with our darkness, our genuine good will and spirituality with our great crimes of slavery and the genocidal abuse of the American Indian.... Needleman's latest work gives open-minded readers a new set of spiritual role models and much valuable food for thought at a crucial moment."
Some Amazon Reviews