Book Review – The 5000 Year Leap

By W. Cleon Skousen Review by Sullivan Kincaid –

All grade school children growing up in the United States are taught about the birth of this country. They learn about some of the primary characters from that period, they hear about big events like the Boston Tea Party, the “shot heard ‘round the world”, and the signing of the Declaration of Independence. All of which is absolutely essential. But judging from the sorts of political discussions we hear in Washington D.C. today, the fundamental questions our founders wrestled with are still with us today. What is the proper role of government? To what degree must the governed resign their liberty – and how much must they retain? What is the proper role of religion in a society? How can the role of religion be balanced with the proper role of government? How to define property rights – when does the need of society supersede the rights of private ownership? Clearly, these are weighty concerns, and personalities such as George Washington, Benjamin Franklin, Thomas Jefferson and others are often used in appeals to authority when politicians start making their own cases for particular answers today. But for all the education our children are given about this period, which was so pivotal to our country’s destiny, it seems few of us have a strong sense of what our original leaders had to say. Which is where ‘the 5000 Leap’ shows its value. Skousen does a very good job of bringing to life quotes from the men who wrote the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution. Here you can read exactly what George Washington and Benjamin Franklin thought of religion and its role in government. Here you can find Thomas Jefferson’s thoughts on personal property rights. Here you can read what the founders said about democracy and republicanism.

When looking for a compendium of thematic quotes from our first leaders, this book seems unparalleled, and I enthusiastically recommend it. One caveat though: the author is a religious man, and he made no attempt to hide that or apologize for it in this book. In fact, he finds in his own religious views a strong echo of the religious impulses growing at the start of our country, and makes those echoes a primary theme. If you are uncomfortable with the notion that “this country was founded on Christian principles”, you might not love a lot of what Skousen has to say. It doesn’t make him wrong, but it might make you uncomfortable. All in all, this is an excellent book, and I highly recommend it, for research purposes, if nothing else. Sullivan Kincaid is not a political theorist, but he enjoys sharing information which can improve everyone’s day to day living, whether that be discussions around investments (stocks, options or even how to sell a structured settlement), religion, or politics.

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