These United States: Original Essays by Leading American Writers on Their State within the Union

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These United States is a landmark original anthology that includes essays by Sherman Alexie on Washington, Annie Proulx on Wyoming, James Lee Burke on Louisiana, Tony Hillerman on New Mexico, Molly Ivins on Texas, Diane McWhorter on Alabama, Frank Conroy on Iowa, and Charles Bowden on Arizona. Edited by John Leonard-mixed-media critic for CBS News Sunday Morning-this work truly represents America from the bottom up, as seen by its leading writers and essayists. It is one of the most original and redemptive books in years.
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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Eighty-one years ago, the Nation published a series of 49 articles on each of the then 48 states and Washington, D.C., that were later collected in two volumes. That book's contributors included notables such as W.E.B. Du Bois (Georgia), Sinclair Lewis (Minnesota) and Willa Cather (Nebraska). Now, Leonard, a noted reviewer, editor and writer (The Last Innocent White Man in America, etc.), has edited an impressive new collection of 55 original essays for this new century. Leonard includes Puerto Rico, and California has two essays (North and South), New York three (New York City, Long Island and Upstate). An impressive host of writers, styles and structures are as diverse as the subjects. Michael Tomasky ponders West Virginia's sense of cultural insularity as a state teetering between North and South; Donald Hall mourns the sudden loss (from natural causes) of New Hampshire's emblem, the Old Man of the Mountain; and Walter Kirn details the severity of Montana's economic privation. The book is organized alphabetically by state, and reading from start to finish entails a series of interesting jumps, e.g., from Georgia to Hawaii or from Colorado to Connecticut. This choice is wise, for it allows each state, and each writer, to stand out. Because the project commenced in 2001, references and reactions to the September 11 attacks are myriad. One of the more poignant of these reflections comes in Frank Conroy's piece on Iowa. He writes, "Iowans may be saddened... but they are not afraid. Not even remotely." (Nov. 15) Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.
Library Journal
In the early 1920s, the Nation asked 49 of the country's leading intellectuals, writers, and activists to write about the "state of their state" for a book, These United States: Portrait of America from the 1920s, that provided a snapshot of the country in the Jazz Age. (One of the 48 states at the time got double treatment.) Now, over 80 years later, the Nation has asked a contemporary group to do the same thing. The new book features an eclectic mix of essays from writers such as Frank Conroy (Iowa), Tony Hillerman (New Mexico), Nikki Giovanni (Tennessee), Molly Ivins (Texas), and Annie Proulx (Wyoming). Most talk about what makes their state special along with its unique challenges and how it relates to the broad country as a whole. In addition to the 50 states, New York City (Marshall Berman), Washington, DC (William Greider), and Puerto Rico (Rosario Ferr ) are represented. Although it includes a brief "About the Contributors" section at the end, the book would have benefited from a concise bio of the person at the beginning of each essay. Nevertheless, this is an innovative book, both informative and entertaining, that provides a unique look at 21st-century America. Recommended for academic and larger public libraries.-Robert Flatley, Kutztown Univ., PA Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781560256182
  • Publisher: Nation Books
  • Publication date: 12/31/2008
  • Series: Nation Books
  • Edition description: First Trade Paper Edition
  • Pages: 544
  • Product dimensions: 1.21 (w) x 6.00 (h) x 9.00 (d)

Meet the Author

John Leonard
John Leonard (1939-2008) was a reviewer or contributing editor for practically every national print outlet, including The Nation, The New York Review of Books, Harper’s, The Atlantic Monthly, Salon, and New York. He also appeared regularly on NPR’s Fresh Air and CBS’s Sunday Morning. Leonard wrote four novels and served for four years as the executive editor of The New York Times Book Review. In 2006 he was awarded the National Book Critics Circle’s prestigious Ivan Sandrof Lifetime Achievement Award.
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Table of Contents

Alabama 1
Alaska 11
Arizona 21
Arkansas 29
California (North) 41
California (South) 50
Colorado 58
Connecticut 66
Delaware 75
Florida 86
Georgia 96
Hawaii 102
Idhao 112
Illinois 122
Indiana 133
Iowa 142
Kansas 148
Kentucky 158
Louisiana 167
Maine 175
Maryland 183
Massachusetts 190
Michigan 198
Minnesota 206
Mississippi 221
Missouri 231
Montana 241
Nebraska 249
Nevada 257
New Hampshire 266
New Jersey 271
New Mexico 277
New York (New York City) 287
New York (Long Island) 307
New York (Upstate) 317
North Carolina 331
North Dakota 338
Ohio 345
Oklahoma 351
Oregon 362
Pennsylvania 371
Puerto Rico 379
Rhode Island 391
South Carolina 400
South Dakota 408
Tennessee 418
Texas 421
Utah 430
Vermont 441
Virginia 447
Washington 454
Washington, D.C. 464
West Virginia 475
Wisconsin 485
Wyoming 495
About the Contributors 509
Acknowledgments 521
Permissions 522
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