Sunday, May 23, 2010

Washington's Sacred Fire: A Surprise Hit?

I work at a bookstore, and yesterday learned that the book "George Washington's Sacred Fire" was being asked for from an abnormally high amount of customers. It turns out that Glenn Beck told his followers it was a must read.

The book is now the #2 Bestseller at You can read a little about what Mr. Beck said about the book here.

It will be interesting to see what sort of impact this might have on the cultural discourse. The book has been discussed on the blog before, (here, among other places) and certainly the premise has been disagreed with. While I'm thrilled that thousands of Americans are running out to their local independent bookstores (or their giant corporate ones) and buying a history book, I'm curious if this will cloud the debate over the founders' religion.

I brought this up mainly to make everybody aware that a book on a Founder's religion was, apparently, at one time the best selling book in the country. It is interesting to note that the book was borderline out-of-print, this push from Beck will revive it from that status for sure.

So be prepared to see some follow-up on this in the media, as the public continues to investigate and debate the religious-ness of the greats.


Joe Winpisinger said...

Last week Beck came on and said that 11 of the 25 on the 24 hr rising sale list or whatever they call it was books he had recommended. I went and looked it up and he was right. Another 5 are referenced in the 11.

Many of Barton's books are in there. As much as I used to disagree with Brad and Jon about how much impact Barton has I was wrong. The real version of Christianity and the founding needs to get out there the shit.

I AM WORRIED. People are waking up to the Constitution and founding but they need to be educated in the right way about it.

Brad Hart said...

Glenn Beck has the same effect on the brain as drugs: they make you feel good but do irrecoverable damage. Fortunately not that many people are giving Beck the time of day anymore. And yes, "Sacred Fire" is far from THE source on Washington's religion but in fairness, it isn't the worst book either.

Joe Winpisinger said...


Beck has got a lot of the Tea Party people listening to him. The guy used to laugh at Ron Paul and now sounds like him at times. What a joke. But a dangerous one. If his and others version of the founding take root then one myth gets replaced with another.

T. Greer said...

Here is my suggestion to you guys: right a very good review fro that showcases the books weaknesses and strengths. Make it fair, and make it hard to take down. Publish it, and then link to it here. You have enough readers on this site to ensure that it stays near the top. Also, do this now, or you will lose the chance to do it later - the early reviews of a book always have the most permanence on Amazon, simply by the virtue of them having been seen the most times. As the number of Beck watchers looking at the Amazon site will increase a whole bunch over the next few days, you must publish your review now or have it lost under whatever review currently sits on the front page.

Joe Winpisinger said...

I think Mr. Greer is right.

Tom Van Dyke said...

Here's Lillback's thesis in a nutshell---written by Lillback himself. I don't find it dishonest or invalid argument.

I don't find it entirely persuasive, but neither do I find Boller's scholarly pronouncement that Washington was a Deist accurate either, and Boller is the "established view," repeated countless times by accredited historians.

Tom Van Dyke said...

I took at peek at the Amazon rankings in history---Sacred Fire is #1.

But Ira's Stoll's "Samuel Adams" is at #6. Stoll was also on Beck's program, and I believe is well received outside the culture wars. [I ran across an article by Stoll in Forbes that didn't seem Beck-ian conservative.]

On balance right there, Beck is doing more harm than good, restoring Samuel Adams [voted by an American Creation poll as the Most Underrated Founder] to his proper place in the Founding pantheon---and there's no doubt on any side about Sam Adams' deep religiosity.

I've seen several of Beck's Founders shows, and at least on them, he's toned down the rhetoric and brought a lot more facts to the table, including a number of credible historians, not just culture warriors like David Barton.

For those curious, David Barton is up to #33. But several places behind Howard Zinn's leftist "History of the American People!"

The alarm of "The Christians are coming!" is once again a bit overstated, I think, as it was several years ago.

Joe Winpisinger said...


Did you mean Beck is doing more good than harm?

If so then I would have to agree and disagree. It is good that this stuff is coming up. It is a History teachers dream. So much so that I am going to create a hs level cirriculum for adults that missed all this in HS and need a basic foundation. I think if I do a good job I might even be able to sell it to some private schools.

With that stated, His change in rhetoric is suspicious to me. His history is also somewhat flawed.

Tom Van Dyke said...

I have observed Beck, at least on Founders Friday, or whatever he calls it, backing off his rhetoric. I was a big opponent of his populism 6 months or a year ago. In fact I actively fought against my other groupblog, Southern Appeal, turning into a Beck cheering section.

But I heard Beck say the other day he didn't even know this history stuff as recently as a year ago. I think it's matured him, after his initial loudmouth blush of success. He backed off instead of getting deeper into his opinions.

Much like the conscientious participants and readers of American Creation. I'll have my 2-year anniversary as a contributor at AC in July. I'm simply not the same as when I started, and with the good will and sharing of studies of all of us here gathered, have come to change my views of the Founding considerably, hopefully towards the facts and the truth of it.

You can't go wrong by returning to the original sources, the writings of the Founders themselves. You, me, our readers. Even Glenn Beck hisself. That's the American Creation credo, isn't it?

King of Ireland said...

If he is learning and changing his mind that is one thing. It is when he ties into his partisian agenda against Obama I cringe. It taints what he says.