Booknotes: Stories from American History Leading Historians on the Events That Shaped Our Country

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From C-SPAN come the third in a series of the bestselling Booknotes books, this one recounting great events in American history as told by the authors who have appeared on the Booknotes program. American history is replete with great and dramatic events, and in recent years a generation of great writers have brought these events to life. They have shared these stories with the viewers of the groundbreaking C-SPAN program, Booknotes, and here the best have been collected for readers to savor. Renowned writers and ...
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Overview

From C-SPAN come the third in a series of the bestselling Booknotes books, this one recounting great events in American history as told by the authors who have appeared on the Booknotes program. American history is replete with great and dramatic events, and in recent years a generation of great writers have brought these events to life. They have shared these stories with the viewers of the groundbreaking C-SPAN program, Booknotes, and here the best have been collected for readers to savor. Renowned writers and historians examine more than eighty unforgettable moments in American history, moments both celebrated and uncelebrated, from the Boston Tea Party to the Watergate break-in, from slavery to affirmative action, from Gettysburg to Iwo Jima. Included are Annette Gordon-Reed on the different ages' reactions to the Jefferson-Hemings controversy, James M. McPherson on the rush to enlist to fight in the Civil War, Witold Rybczynski on the building of Central Park, Gina Kolata on the worldwide influenza epidemic of 1918, Nicholas Lemann on the "great migration" of Southern blacks to Northern cities, Tom Brokaw on the World War II generation, Norman Podhoretz on the rise of neoconservatism, Leonard Garment on Watergate, Richard Holbrooke on the signing of the Dayton Peace Accords, and much more. For Booknotes's famously devoted fans-and for anyone interested in American history-this is a wonderfully engaging compendium of information, opinion, and fascinating new perspectives.

Author Biography: Brian Lamb, the founding CEO of C-SPAN, has been the host of Booknotes since its inception in 1989. He has read each of the more than six hundredbooks that Booknotes has featured. He lives in Arlington, Virginia.

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Editorial Reviews

From Barnes & Noble
Brian Lamb, the host of C-SPAN's author interview program, Booknotes, presents a collection of the American history stories he's featured on the program. Included are: Tom Brokaw on "The Greatest Generation," Christopher Matthews on the Kennedy-Nixon rivalry, Nicholas Lemann on the movement of southern blacks to the North, Harvey Mansfield on de Tocqueville, and Robert Dallek on LBJ, among others. Lamb's interview questions have been omitted from the edited text, making for "conversational" essays that colorfully present each author to the reader.
Publishers Weekly
On C-SPAN's Booknotes, host Brian Lamb conducts in-depth, thoughtful (and sometimes plodding) author interviews. Transcripts of David McCullough, David Brooks, even David Crosby are free on the show's Web site, but polished essays based on the "excerpted and edited" interviews are gathered into a companion series, of which Booknotes: Stories from American History is the third installment. Divided into sections from "Revolution and Founding 1776-1815" to "The Culture Wars 1975-2000," the volume features Ben Bradlee on JFK and the Pentagon Papers, Gina Kolata on the 1918 flu pandemic and Witold Rybczynski on the making of Central Park. (Nov.) Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.
Library Journal
The founding CEO of C-SPAN and host of its Booknotes program, Lamb has converted 79 interviews with historians and writers who have appeared on the show into this collection of essays on U.S. history. In many respects, this volume continues the "great men" theme of his earlier anthology, Booknotes: Life Stories (LJ 3/15/99), reflecting his inclination to choose historical biographies for his popular show. The U.S. legacy is explained largely through such well-known individuals as Thomas Jefferson, Abraham Lincoln, and the Roosevelts, yet thoughtful essays on some traditional rogues of the American pantheon help create a balanced vision of the nation's past. There are also fascinating discussions of women, including Helen Keller and Ida P. Wells. Taken in their entirety, these essays are an affirmation that the personalities and actions of individuals have had a profound impact on the course of American history. Most of the essays will lead readers to other quality books, making this a good choice for both public and academic libraries. Jim Doyle, Sara Hightower Regional Lib., Rome, GA Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.
School Library Journal
Adult/High School-This book covers different facets of U.S. history from the Boston Tea Party to Dan Rostenkowski's fall from power, with the greatest emphasis on 20th-century events. Historians and participants discuss the most important aspects and the telling details of the events that they have analyzed. Based on the interviews on the C-SPAN program Booknotes, these essays are not the scholarly pieces that make history seem dry and dusty. (Students will find no footnotes here.) Andrew Young describes Martin Luther King, Jr.'s decision to go to jail in Birmingham, AL, in support of the people who were already imprisoned because "there was nothing else to do." Jack Rakove describes the Virginia Plan that was used as the basis for the Constitution as something the Virginians and Pennsylvanians cooked up while they were "sitting around Philadelphia waiting for the other delegations to appear." Each entry is no more than 8 to 10 pages in length. The colorful details will make these events, both great and small, come to life for today's readers.-Jane S. Drabkin, Chinn Park Regional Library, Prince William, VA Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781586480837
  • Publisher: PublicAffairs
  • Publication date: 11/28/2001
  • Edition description: Contains 39 color photos
  • Pages: 560
  • Lexile: 1060L (what's this?)
  • Product dimensions: 6.50 (w) x 9.57 (h) x 1.92 (d)

Read an Excerpt

The Scopes trial was 1925. America was in the middle of the roaring '20s. America was into media sensation, and this was the greatest media sensation of a media sensation-loving decade.... It was a time when America was changing--jazz music was king, women's suffrage was brand new, teen smoking was widespread, dancing--all these changes were coming, America was urbanizing. Before, we'd been a rural people. There was a lot of change and there was a lot of reaction to that change. And with that reaction came the rise of fundamentalism and religion, which was a reaction to modernism and liberalism within the church. The trial was in Dayton, Tennessee, a small town in Republican east Tennessee in the rising hill country, a new town that hadn't been around long. It wasn't your classic Old South. It was a New South caught up in the turmoil of changing times. It was known as "The Monkey Trial" because what was being challenged was the idea, "Did humans evolve from monkeys?" There were wonderful cartoons during the trial, cartoons where when the verdict was announced and Scopes was convicted, you saw all these monkeys in a tree jumping up and down, saying, "Hooray, we're not related to William Jennings Bryan." The trial lasted essentially a week. They had jury selection on one Friday. It was thought it was going to last a long time because Clarence Darrow was famous for using days to assemble a jury. He had a different strategy here that made it much shorter: He wanted to expose the public, because it was a trial geared for the national media, to the fact that these jurors didn't know anything about evolution. The idea was to show the specter of having a trial where the merits of a scientific theory are judged by people who didn't know the scientific theory. This was the first broadcast trial in American history. It was not viewed at the time as a serious trial. It was viewed as a media event, even by the judge and the participants. That's why the city held the event. Interest in the trial grew steadily in the two months before it was launched, especially after William Jennings Bryan and Clarence Darrow volunteered to participate. WGN, which was the radio voice of the Chicago Tribune (WGN stands for World's Greatest Newspaper, the nickname of the Chicago Tribune)... arranged to broadcast the trial live. They hung special phone lines from Dayton up to Chicago to carry the radio broadcast. Then they needed to put microphones up. They had never broadcast this sort of event before, and so they thought it would be better to have three microphones; in reality, it caused a cross-wave in the sound. But they had three large microphones and they wanted to put them in strategic locations, which meant they had to move the jury box. It was symbolic of the whole trial that they moved the jury box out of the center stage of the trial and put microphones in. It was a media trial rather than a serious jury trial. From those microphones, it was broadcast live nationwide via WGN. It was also broadcast out into auditoriums around town where an overflow crowd could listen. The entire event was filmed on newsreel cameras. The cameras were left right in the courtroom. They built the first airplane airstrip in Dayton. They cleared a cornfield out near town, and every day planes would fly in and pick up the newsreel footage and fly it up to northern cities. It was shown at night in Cleveland, Detroit, and New York and then recopied and sent all over the country so the entire country could watch the trial. So, not only was it broadcast live on the radio, but it was in the movie halls all over town that night or the next day. That shows the level of interest in this. That shows that it was a media trial. And these were new things. They'd never broadcast a trial; they'd never filmed a trial before.
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Table of Contents

Introduction xv
Revolution and Founding 1776-1815
Alfred F. Young on a Shoemaker and the Boston Tea Party 3
Pauline Maier on Declaring Independence 9
Jack N. Rakove on Creating the Constitution 14
Robert Scigliano on The Federalist Papers 22
Annette Gordon-Reed on Thomas Jefferson and Sally Hemings 28
Roger G. Kennedy on the American and French Revolutions 32
Bernard A. Weisberger on the Contested Election of 1800 36
Arnold A. Rogow on the Hamilton-Burr Duel 41
Michael H. Cottman on the Slave Ship Henrietta Marie 46
The Young Nation 1815-1850
Joyce Appleby on the First Generation of Americans 53
Andrew Burstein on Celebrating Fifty Years of Independence 60
Harvey C. Mansfield on Tocqueville's Democracy in America 66
Slavery and the Civil War 1850-1865
Stephen B. Oates on the Buildup to the Civil War 73
James M. McPherson on Volunteer Soldiers 80
Drew Gilpin Faust on Women of the Slaveholding South 86
Joseph E. Stevens on the Events of 1863 93
James M. Perry on Civil War Correspondents 97
Brooks D. Simpson on Ulysses S. Grant's Military Career 104
Douglas L. Wilson, Allen C. Guelzo, Lerone Bennett Jr., and Differing Perspectives on Abraham Lincoln 111
H. W. Crocker III, Tom Wheeler, and the Leadership of Robert E. Lee 118
William J. Cooper Jr. on Jefferson Davis and the Confederacy 125
Rebuilding America and the Gilded Age 1865-1901
Witold Rybczynski on Frederick Law Olmsted and the Building of Central Park 133
David Haward Bain on the First Transcontinental Railroad 139
H. Paul Jeffers on Grover Cleveland's Political Career 146
H. W. Brands on the Events of the 1890s 151
Ben Procter on William Randolph Hearst and the Rise of Yellow Journalism 157
Jean Strouse on J.P. Morgan, National Banker 164
Progressive Era and Reaction 1901-1929
Linda O. McMurry on the Crusades of Ida B. Wells 175
Dorothy Herrmann on the Celebrity of Helen Keller 179
Gina Kolata on the 1918 Influenza Pandemic 185
Emily Bernard on Langston Hughes and Carl Van Vechten 190
Edward J. Larson on the Scopes "Monkey" Trial 197
Robert A. Slayton on Al Smith and the 1928 Election 206
Larry Tye on Edward L. Bernays and the Birth of Public Relations 212
A. Scott Berg on Charles Lindbergh's Reluctant Public Life 219
Peter Collier on the Roosevelt Dynasty 227
Depression and War 1929-1945
David M. Kennedy on the Great Depression and World War II 237
Allen Weinstein on the Early Days of Soviet Espionage 245
Elizabeth M. Norman on the Nurses Captured on Bataan 251
Amity Shlaes on the Creation of the Withholding Tax 259
James Bradley on Raising the Flag on Iwo Jima 262
Tom Brokaw on the World War II Generation 269
Nicholas Lemann on the Great Black Migration 274
Sally Bedell Smith, David Brinkley, Peter Jennings, and Early Network News 280
Early Cold War 1945-1957
David Fromkin on Five Men Who Shaped the Post--World War II World 289
Christopher Matthews on the Unlikely Kennedy--Nixon Friendship 294
Jean Edward Smith on Lucius D. Clay and Postwar Berlin 300
Zachary Karabell on Truman Defeats Dewey 305
Arthur Herman on the Rise and Fall of Joseph McCarthy 313
Norman Podhoretz on the New York Intelligentsia 321
Social Transformation 1957-1975
Roy Reed on Orval Faubus and the Desegregation of Central High School 329
Robert Dallek on Lyndon Johnson and the 1960 Election 334
Jay Parini on Robert Frost and the Kennedy Inauguration 339
Donald Kagan on the Cuban Missile Crisis 344
Andrew Young on Martin Luther King Jr.'s Letter from a Birmingham Jail 349
Diane McWhorter on the 1963 Birmingham Church Bombing 353
Ben Bradlee on the Kennedy Years 358
Arlen Specter on the Warren Commission 363
Jeff Shesol on the RFK-LBJ Feud 368
Anthony Lewis on New York Times Co. v. Sullivan 375
Jon Margolis on Stories from 1964 382
Tinsley E. Yarbrough on John Marshall Harlan and the Warren Court 387
Leonard Garment on Getting to Know Richard M. Nixon 393
Charles V. Hamilton on the Life and Career of Adam Clayton Powell Jr. 398
Elizabeth Taylor on Richard J. Daley and Chicago's Political Machine 404
Peter R. Kann and Frances FitzGerald on Reporting from Vietnam 410
Stuart I. Rochester on American POWs in Vietnam 417
The Culture Wars 1975-2000
Irving Kristol, Nina J. Easton, and the Rise of the Neoconservatives 427
Kiron K. Skinner on the Forgotten Radio Scripts of Ronald Reagan 439
John A. Farrell on the Political Lore of Tip O'Neill 444
Shelby Steele, Cornel West, Thomas Sowell, Randall Robinson: A Symposium on Race 451
Don Oberdorfer on the Reagan-Gorbachev Summits 459
Marlin Fitzwater on Reagan, Bush, and the Press 466
Bob Woodward on Planning the Persian Gulf War 473
John Podhoretz on the Last Days of the First Bush White House 477
Richard E. Cohen on Dan Rostenkowski's Fall from Power 483
Tim Russert on a Half-Century of Meet the Press 489
Bonnie Angelo on Modern Presidents' Mothers 495
Appendix 499
Complete List of C-SPAN Booknotes (1989-2001) 502
Index 525
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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 14, 2002

    A great treasure of the American Experience/Excellent photos

    Honestly, I have not finished the book yet. There are over seventy stories in the work, I am at or around number sixty. I am very impressed with the quality of this work. As with other booknotes selections, great care has been taken to give some facts and a lot of synthesis of events. This book is excellently organized into a broad panoramic landscape of American History. As a teacher of American History, I find this book most useful.

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