I don't see a discussion question. So I'm going to repost my Essay question here for my feelings on Chapter 2. I think that this approach is not new, however Bender seems to include other regions of the world into our discussion and makes a point to consider missing parts of the story as it pertains to disenfranchised peoples. These parts of the story may be included in other seperate sources but not in the main story as taught to students.
Last night I read the introduction and chapter 2 on the "Great War" and American Revolution. Having grown up in the Philadelphia area, I was exposed to firsthand experiences visiting many of the sites of importance to the Independence story. Because of the nature of the conflict, a transnational dialogue is necessary to the story. However, for me, that story only included England, France and the Hessians (didn't notice them mentioned in Benders version). Also included in the background was a leadup to the idea of the Enlightenment which is being bantered about in Europe. Later college level courses included the financial implications on the various countries mentioned above along with other reasons for either siding with the Americans or against the Americans. While a mention might be made here or there about slavery, the slave trade leading up to the revolution, this surely was not an important part of the discussion. Connecting the "Great War" and our struggle for freedom, connecting the search for freedom by other peoples (other than the French Revolution) are not uttered. This is the story that Thomas Bender is wanting us to consider when we look at the history of our nation, or for that matter any nation looking at itself.
I remember from my high school days learning about the 100 years War, as I came to know of it. We would talk about it's on again, off again nature and the general distain that the French, English and Spanish had for each other and the role of having a powerful navy. I don't recall being taught that much about America being used as a pawn to create a revenge factor for the various parties. And never were other sideshows such as India, South America and Egypt involved in our discussions. Instead, it was focused on royalty, Eurocentric squabbles, and financial affects of longstanding wars (which our country is getting to experience today). Wars are expensive and when too many come back in body bags, or don't come back at all, the cost is considered excessive by the homefront. The British crown exercises his "right" to tax the subjects of Britain who begin to feel overtaxed, so he turns to the British Colonies. While the American colonies distain for the British taxes and enforcement are well documented as causes leading to the Revolutionary War, little is mentioned about other British colonies revolt or feelings towards these taxes or others imposed, although at least Bender acknowledges that the American colonies were being taxed less severely. How? He doesn't really say. He gives room for the historian in us to explore that idea. He also ties the outcomes of the our struggle freedom to the struggles of other nations, some successful and others unsuccessful. This is an improvement on the classical history book approach of we saw, we conquered (won) and we lived on happily every after (assumably in our own little happy world)... The End.
It is not the end. We do not live in world of our own. All that has changed is that ideas move faster globally courtesy of the electronic age and transportation improvements. While a nations actions take seconds to be transmitted and processed by other nations around the world, good (or they seemed good at the time) ideas that are transmitted have always been implemented regardless of borders, and sometimes with different results dependant on the nations involved. Some ideas that are good for one nation (independence) may not be good for us to transmit on when successful because the outlook doesn't fit into our concept of how it looks when positive, such as the independence of Haiti. It didn't fit our model. History is not always pretty, in fact sometimes it looks more like a Desperate Housewives episode with effects that aren't always predicted. I like Benders approach of looking at the transnational effect of history, although as an elementary teacher, I realize that this might not be appropriate for this age group.