American Places: Encounters with History

Paperback (Print)
Buy New
Buy New from
Used and New from Other Sellers
Used and New from Other Sellers
from $1.99
Usually ships in 1-2 business days
(Save 94%)
Other sellers (Paperback)
  • All (23) from $1.99   
  • New (9) from $4.91   
  • Used (14) from $1.99   


In American Places, more than two dozen of America's most gifted historians write about their encounters with historic places, bringing a personal viewpoint to bear on a wide variety of sites, ranging from Monticello to Fenway Park. Here James M. McPherson writes about the battlefield of Gettysburg, and how walking the ground of Pickett's Charge inspired one of his books. Kevin Starr visits the Musso & Frank Grill in Hollywood and finds many of the flavors of California history there. Joel Williamson takes a bemused tour of Elvis Presley's Graceland, and David Kennedy tells the story of the "Pig War" on San Juan Island, where a spat between Britain and America over a speck of land in the Pacific Northwest helped determine the shape of the U.S. and Canada. William Freehling compares two places, Charleston's Battery and New Orleans' Jackson Square, showing how each reveals the different spirit of the society that created it. And Edward Ayers talks about spending time in Cyberspace, U.S.A. Other pieces include Robert Dallek on the FDR Memorial, David Hackett Fischer on the Boston Common, and William Leuchtenburg on his native borough of Queens.
American Places celebrates the career of Sheldon Meyer, who over his years at Oxford University Press has published some of America's most distinguished historians, including many Pulitzer Prize and Bancroft Prize winners, virtually all of whom have contributed to this volume.

Read More Show Less

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"A lively and enjoyable collection."—Kirkus Reviews
Several years ago, one of America's most eminent academic historians had an unusual idea: to honor the publisher of the Oxford University Press, Sheldon Meyer, by assembling a volume of essays written by Meyer's protégées. This would be a frank exercise in mutual adoration, but because nearly all of the contributors were winners of the most prestigious prizes in the profession the book would be certain to draw attention and critical acclaim. Professor Leuchtenburg thereupon invited each historian to choose and describe some particular place where history comes alive to him. The result is a book that is somewhat offbeat, but decidedly interesting. Given their heads, Leuchtenburg's historians responded with a wide spectrum of personal choices, some of them staid and proper, and others quirky. It would hardly be surprising, for example, to find that a scholar would choose Monticello, the Boston Common, or Gettysburg to be living icons of American history. However, there were others, much less respectful of academic tradition, who went for places like Fenway Park, Queens, and even the Musso & Frank Grill in Hollywood. One maverick soul made a brave, but not quite convincing, pitch for Graceland, and another found his historical locus in cyberspace. Nearly all history professionals have the knack of making just about anything seem interesting, and most of these 29 writers lived up to the challenge. The book certainly has no structure and in places the writing is uneven; a couple of the essays are obsequious, but others are virtual gems. In most of them, the casual reader cannot help but discover numerous fascinating tidbits about his country and its past. History teachers who have imaginationwill be able to use this book with immense profit. Category: History & Geography. KLIATT Codes: SA—Recommended for senior high school students, advanced students, and adults. 2000, Oxford Univ. Press, 398p. illus. notes., ; Historian, Edwards Air Force Base, CA
Library Journal
This collection of essays is a tribute to longtime Oxford University Press editor Sheldon Meyer. Edited by New Deal historian Leuchtenburg (history, Univ. of North Carolina; The FDR Years), it gathers essays by nearly 30 well-known American historians, who reflect on personal encounters with historic places. The places range from cyberspace to Elvis's Graceland, and the writing varies from warm, personal reminiscences to dry, academic narratives. The most successful pieces weave the passion of personal discovery into the fabric of historical fact, allowing readers a glimpse of what drives historians to delve into the past. Essays like T.H. Breen's on a long-forgotten Massachusetts slave and James M. McPherson's sketch of Gettysburg remind us that history is found in places great and small. Other passages mourn the loss of historic districts and sports parks. Race and the South figure prominently in many of the essays. While this book might appeal to history buffs, it will be of interest chiefly to other historians. Recommended for academic libraries.--Duncan Stewart, State Historical Society of Iowa Lib., Iowa City Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
Essays on historic and ever-changing American locations, celebrating the career of an innovative Oxford University Press editor, Sheldon Meyer. The festschrift, an anthology compiled in honor of a particular scholar, is an awkward format, and despite the conscientious efforts of Leuchtenburg (History/Univ. of North Carolina, Chapel Hill; The Supreme Court in the Age of Roosevelt, 1995, etc.), this assortment shows some of the predictable problems of the genre. Although Leuchtenburg confides that some authors found the personal essays challenging after decades of rigorous scholarly objectivity, others apparently had no trouble indulging in evidently self-centered or frankly self-indulgent writing, rambling on about their careers or their reminiscences of Meyer in pieces resembling the transcripts of speeches at a retirement party. The volume also includes a few of those wistful first-person meditations in which the author returns to his boyhood home after many decades and finds that it has changed in the interim, inspiring the usual reflections on transience and memory. A gratifying number of pieces, however, transcend the unpromising format to offer substantial information and fresh insights into the history implicit in the American landscape. In"Greensboro, North Carolina: A Window on Race in the American South," William H. Chafe provides context for the famous 1960 Woolworth's sit-in."Illinois's Old State Capitol: A Tale of Two Speeches," by Robert Johannsen, brings the Douglas-Lincoln campaign of 1860 to life. Donald Worster makes a powerful case in"The Grand Canyon" for the inclusion of geography and ecology in the study of human history."A Fan's Homage to Fenway (Or, WhyWeLove It When They Always Break Our Hearts)," by John Demos, and"The Polo Grounds," by Jules Tygiel, are zestful tributes to both baseball and place. The finest essay here, Kenneth T. Jackson's"Memphis, Tennessee: The Rise and Fall of Main Street," presents a stirring defense of urbanism and a gentle, hilarious tribute to the pleasures the city offered a teenager in the 1950s. Despite its flaws, a lively and enjoyable collection.
Read More Show Less

Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780195152456
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press
  • Publication date: 5/28/2002
  • Pages: 420
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 8.90 (h) x 1.20 (d)

Meet the Author

William E. Leuchtenburg is William R. Kenan, Jr. Professor of History at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill. He has served as president of both the Organization of American Historians and the American Historical Association. His books include The FDR Years and Franklin D. Roosevelt and the New Deal, 1932-1940, winner of the Bancroft and Francis Parkman Prizes.

Read More Show Less

Table of Contents

Introduction, William Leuchtenburg
Cyberspace, U.S.A., Edward L. Ayers
Pennsylvania Avenue: The Avenue of The Presidents, Paul Boller, Jr.
A Monument for Barre: Memory in a Massachusetts Town, T. H. Breen
Greensboro, North Carolina: A Window on Race in the American South, William H. Chafe
World War II Normandy: American Cemetery and Memorial, James C. Cobb
The Franklin D. Roosevelt Memorial, Washington, D.C., Robert Dallek
The Americanized Mannheim of 1945-1946, David Brion Davis
Vassar College, Carl N. Degler
A Fan's Homage to Fenway, John Demos
Finding History in Woodside, California, Paula S. Fass
Boston Common, David Fischer
Charleston, William Freehling
Climbing Stone Mountain, Louis R. Harlan
Memphis, Tennessee, Kenneth T. Jackson
Illinois' Old State Capitol: A Tale of Two Speeches, Robert W. Johannsen
"A Little Journey": Elbert Hubbard and the Roycroft Community at East Aurora, New York, Michael Kammen
San Juan Island, Washington, David M. Kennedy
1048 Fifth Avenue, Alice Kessler-Harris
Queens, William E. Leuchtenburg
Gettysburg, James M. McPherson
Monticello, Merrill D. Peterson
The Musso & Frank Grill in Hollywood, Kevin Starr
The Polo Ground, Jules Tygiel
Graceland, Joel Williamson
Nassau Hall, Princeton, New Jersey, Sean Wilentz
Montgomery, C. Vann Woodward
The Grand Canyon, Donald Worster
Sewanee - How to Make a Yankee Southern: Memories of the 1940s, Bertram Wyatt-Brown

Read More Show Less

Customer Reviews

Be the first to write a review
( 0 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star


4 Star


3 Star


2 Star


1 Star


Your Rating:

Your Name: Create a Pen Name or

Barnes & Review Rules

Our reader reviews allow you to share your comments on titles you liked, or didn't, with others. By submitting an online review, you are representing to Barnes & that all information contained in your review is original and accurate in all respects, and that the submission of such content by you and the posting of such content by Barnes & does not and will not violate the rights of any third party. Please follow the rules below to help ensure that your review can be posted.

Reviews by Our Customers Under the Age of 13

We highly value and respect everyone's opinion concerning the titles we offer. However, we cannot allow persons under the age of 13 to have accounts at or to post customer reviews. Please see our Terms of Use for more details.

What to exclude from your review:

Please do not write about reviews, commentary, or information posted on the product page. If you see any errors in the information on the product page, please send us an email.

Reviews should not contain any of the following:

  • - HTML tags, profanity, obscenities, vulgarities, or comments that defame anyone
  • - Time-sensitive information such as tour dates, signings, lectures, etc.
  • - Single-word reviews. Other people will read your review to discover why you liked or didn't like the title. Be descriptive.
  • - Comments focusing on the author or that may ruin the ending for others
  • - Phone numbers, addresses, URLs
  • - Pricing and availability information or alternative ordering information
  • - Advertisements or commercial solicitation


  • - By submitting a review, you grant to Barnes & and its sublicensees the royalty-free, perpetual, irrevocable right and license to use the review in accordance with the Barnes & Terms of Use.
  • - Barnes & reserves the right not to post any review -- particularly those that do not follow the terms and conditions of these Rules. Barnes & also reserves the right to remove any review at any time without notice.
  • - See Terms of Use for other conditions and disclaimers.
Search for Products You'd Like to Recommend

Recommend other products that relate to your review. Just search for them below and share!

Create a Pen Name

Your Pen Name is your unique identity on It will appear on the reviews you write and other website activities. Your Pen Name cannot be edited, changed or deleted once submitted.

Your Pen Name can be any combination of alphanumeric characters (plus - and _), and must be at least two characters long.

Continue Anonymously

    If you find inappropriate content, please report it to Barnes & Noble
    Why is this product inappropriate?
    Comments (optional)