Records of Our National Life: American History from the National Archives

Overview

This highly illustrated volume takes the reader on a journey through American history, offering a close-up examination of some of the billions of documents, photographs, maps, and films in the holdings of the National Archives.

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Overview

This highly illustrated volume takes the reader on a journey through American history, offering a close-up examination of some of the billions of documents, photographs, maps, and films in the holdings of the National Archives.

Read More Show Less

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Since its birth in 1934, the National Archives has housed some of the United States' most important artifacts, from the Articles of Confederation to the official electoral vote tally from the 2000 presidential election. Now these national treasures can be read and viewed at home in this glossy new volume. Beginning with terse introductions by such contributors as Cokie Roberts and Ken Burns, the book commences with glowing if not substantial essays regarding the archives. Yet the materials themselves—e.g., photographs of the microphones President Richard Nixon disguised as Chapsticks during the Watergate years—are fascinating enough to not need effusive declarations. American history enthusiasts will relish the chance to see culturally evocative documents, like a woeful teenager's letter to the U.S. Department of Labor begging lenience for the Beatles in 1964, as well as the opportunity to glimpse the psyches of some of our most revered public figures: for example, Washington's annotations on the Constitution. The separate placement in the back of the book of paragraphs explaining each image is frustrating, yet this design succeeds admirably in visually showcasing the defining documents of American history. (Apr.)
Library Journal
In honor of its 75th anniversary in 2009, the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA), with the Foundation for the National Archives, has produced this handsome coffee table-sized volume, published in the UK, displaying selected materials from its collection to showcase U.S. history up to the present. The book also includes essays by Michael Beschloss, Tom Brokaw, Ken Burns, Cokie Roberts, and David McCullough, among others. Archivists at NARA can preserve only one to three percent of any year's government records; it's staggering to think how such choices continue to be made. Here, selected items are displayed with descriptions in chronological order within themes: territorial expansion and exploration, immigration and migration, political life, rights of women and minorities, and the growth of industry and technology. The notable documents are here, such as the Constitution of the North American Free Trade Association (NAFTA) agreement, but there are plenty of less predictable gems, like the contents of Eleanor Roosevelt's wallet at the time of her death in 1962, the first 1040 tax form from 1913, and an 1877 picture of Little Bighorn with the bones of the horses still on the ground where Custer took cover. VERDICT This is a great book for all public libraries and all American history buffs.—Bryan Craig, MLS, Nellysford, VA
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781904832713
  • Publisher: D Giles Limited
  • Publication date: 3/25/2010
  • Pages: 3202
  • Sales rank: 1,244,957
  • Product dimensions: 10.80 (w) x 11.50 (h) x 1.10 (d)

Meet the Author

Michael R. Beschloss

Developed in collaboration between the archivists and staff of the National Archives and the Foundation for the National Archives, featuring contributed essays by Michael Beschloss, Presidential Historian and Author; Tom Brokaw, Special Correspondent, NBC News; Ken Burns, Documentary Filmmaker; John Carlin, Eighth Archivist of the United States; David McCullough, Author; Cokie Roberts, Author and Political Analyst for ABC News and NPR; Allen Weinstein, Ninth Archivist of the United States; Tom Wheeler, Managing Director, Core Capital Partners; and Don W. Wilson, Seventh Archivist of the United States. Edited and designed by Anne-Catherine Fallon and Kevin Osborn of Research & Design, Ltd. Project managed by Maureen MacDonald, from the National Archives, and Christina Gehring of the Foundation for the National Archives. Thora Colot is Executive Director for the Foundation, Patty Mason is Senior Editor.

Biography

It's not for nothing that Newsweek has called Michael Beschloss "the nation's leading Presidential historian." As a political science major at Williams College, he wrote his honors thesis on the ambivalent relationship between FDR and Joseph P. Kennedy. Reworked and expanded to book length, the material was published in 1980 under the title Kennedy and Roosevelt: The Uneasy Alliance. Although the book was met with subtle condescension from the notoriously snarky academic community, mainstream critics were quick to lavish praise on Beschloss for his meticulous research and reader-friendly prose style. Encouraged by his publisher, he followed up his debut with another historical narrative, Mayday: Eisenhower, Khrushchev, and the U-2 Affair (1986). Reviewed by Paul A. Kreisberg in Foreign Affairs magazine, the book was described as "popular history at its best: accessible and fascinating reading for those who know little about the subject; containing enough new material and insight to command the attention of serious scholars."

Since then, the high-profile author has carved a lucrative career out of the American Presidency, penning several bestselling biographies and political histories, including The Crisis Years: Kennedy and Khrushchev, 1960-1963, The Conquerors: Roosevelt, Truman and the Destruction of Hitler's Germany, 1941-1945, and Presidential Courage: Brave Leaders and How They Changed America, 1789-1989. In addition, he has edited Lyndon Johnson's White House tapes into a critically acclaimed trilogy and is in demand both as a lecturer and television commentator.

Good To Know

From 1982 until 1986, Beschloss served as a historian at the Smithsonian Institution.

From 1985 until 1987, he was a senior associate member at St. Antony's College, in the University of Oxford, England.

From 1987 until 1996, he was a senior fellow of the Annenberg Foundation in Washington, D.C.

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    1. Also Known As:
      Michael Beschloss
    2. Hometown:
      Washington, D.C.
    1. Date of Birth:
      November 30, 1955
    2. Place of Birth:
      Chicago, Illinois
    1. Education:
      Williams College, Harvard University

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