online great books

#72- G. K. Chesterton’s What I Saw In America


This week, Scott and Karl read and heartily discuss G.K. Chesterson’s What I Saw In America.

Chesterson was a prolific English journalist and author who traveled to America on a lecture tour of the US in 1921.  What I Saw In America begins as a travelogue of his journey but eventually becomes an extended reflection on what makes a nation a nation.

Chesterton is often referred to as the “prince of paradox” and his opening line doesn’t disappoint.  He writes, “I have never managed to lose my old conviction that travel narrows the mind.”

Throughout his travels, the main question on Chesterson’s mind— what does it mean to be an American?

As Scott points out, “He’s a perpetual outsider who sees everything clean.”

Tune in for a fascinating discussion on the American ideal, the drawbacks of progress, and what Chesterson deems to be the greatest guarantor of political and economic liberty.

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