The idea of American exceptionalism is that the US is different from every other country in the world because we are a “New nation”. We were formed in a unique way during a unique type of revolution, in a unique time with unique situations that came about. The way we have grown as a country since 1776 is now referred to as our state of exceptionalism. Towards the very end of the chapter there is a section entitled “Exceptional America” which describes how America has changed over the last 65 years. It describes the socioeconomic change, the rise in overall education and the rise of the expected life time of Americans. This gives the impression of the general rise in the standard of living among Americans, it doesn’t however give a reason why, other than indoor plumbing was mandated by law. I wonder what happened in American society that suddenly caused the majority of people to attend college, was it the job market getting tougher or was it something else, such as social norms changing. The book gives a startling statistic that in the year 2000 14+ million students attended college, 3 times the amount that did in 1960.
What I feel really needs to be elaborated on is the next section, which is only given 3 sentences. This talks about the “dark side” of what has become known as “exceptionalism”. It simply says that however advanced we have become we still have by FAR the most murders “caused by guns” of any advanced country in the world; with 11,789 in 1998. As a point of comparison the second highest was Germany with 373 and rounding out the top 3 was Canada with 151. Why is our number so ludicrously higher than the rest? I can understand that our population is exponentially larger and that when the percentage is taken of the total population of country/murders that occurred we would probably be lower than the rest; but that’s still nearly 12,000 people dead.