The Yanks are Coming Over by Dino E. Buenviaje is a non-fiction historical book which shows how an American elite created the concept of Anglo-Saxonism. The belief arose, initially, from the ideas that Anglo Saxons were culturally and racially superior to other racial groups. According to this theory, only the Anglo-Saxons held the virtues of bravery, independence, sobriety and liberty. The concept came to support the idea that only the Anglo Saxons could bring freedom and progress to backward peoples.
The author has a PhD in history and is an assistant professor at Riverside Community College District. He discusses several related subjects to better explain the cultural history of the United States in the century before World War I. These themes range from the history of different ethnic groups in the United States to the Revolutions of 1848 in Europe.
What I found most interesting about the whole book was the author’s brilliant analysis of how racial theories change all the time to justify the dominant position of the elites. When it was convenient for political reasons, the Germans were considered part of the Anglo Saxon family. Some theories even supported the idea that the Anglo Saxons had emerged from northern Germany. Over time, however, different geopolitical interests of Germany and England started to become visible. From that moment on, the Germans conveniently ceased to be considered Anglo Saxons. After analyzing all the theories mentioned above, there is unequivocal evidence that most of these theses were pseudoscience that existed to defend the interests of a ruling WASP elite.
The book’s biggest flaw, in my opinion, is that it puts too little emphasis on the economic factor that explains how countries deal with war. There is no question that America’s relationship with England was close (and still is). The explanation based on the idea of ‘we shall fight to defend freedom against oppression’ fails miserably to explain some alliances, though. For example, in the Boer War, the Dutch colonialists represented the same values and aspirations as the Americans in the War of Independence. For economic and political reasons, however, the United States couldn’t go to war against England. In this context, England played the same role as Germany in World War I. The Anglo-Saxon brother who fought for freedom (the Dutch colonists from South Africa) against oppression, however, was entirely ignored by the United States.
Therefore, I rate The Yanks are Coming Over There 3 out of 4 stars. There is no question that the book is informative and memorable. Lamentably, the text needs professional editing. Not only are there countless grammatical errors, but also dozens of hard-to-read sentences. Unnecessary commas, incorrect verb tenses, missing determiners before nouns and even bizarre sentences like ‘what unites the speakers of the speakers of English’ are commonplace. The contrast between these childish grammatical mistakes and the quality of the book’s content is stark.
I would recommend this book to anyone interested in American history. Even admitting that the book needs one more edition battery, it is not possible to deny the writer’s knowledge of 19th-century Anglo-Saxonism.