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The Pledge: A History of the Pledge of Allegiance
     

The Pledge: A History of the Pledge of Allegiance

5.0 1
by Jeffrey Owen Jones, Peter Meyer
 

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The cultural and political history of the Pledge of Allegiance, how it came to be, what it means to Americans, and why we have battled over it for generations

For more than a century, reciting the Pledge of Allegiance has been a central part of the American Experience. And perhaps because of its ubiquity, this simple flag salute has served not only as a

Overview

The cultural and political history of the Pledge of Allegiance, how it came to be, what it means to Americans, and why we have battled over it for generations

For more than a century, reciting the Pledge of Allegiance has been a central part of the American Experience. And perhaps because of its ubiquity, this simple flag salute has served not only as a unifying ritual but also as a lightning rod for bitter controversy.

Congress's 1954 decision to add "under God" to the Pledge has made it the focus of three U.S. Supreme Court cases and at least one other landmark appellate decision. The debate continues today, but along with it exists a widely held admiration and support for this simple affirmation of our shared patriotism.

As Jeffrey Owen Jones and Peter Meyer show in their illuminating history, this brief salute to the flag has had an almost magical power to galvanize people's deepest feelings and beliefs about who we are and ought to be as a nation. In that sense, the story of the Pledge of Allegiance is the story of America and the American people.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
The late producer, journalist, and teacher Jeffrey Jones partnered with former Life magazine news editor Peter Myer for this well-rounded view of the pledge of allegiance. Beginning with its 1892 composition by clergyman Francis Bellamy, the pledge is understood by Meyer and Jones as a product of unstable times, years shaken by Civil War, changing demographic makeup, and increasing economic disparities. Initially a prayer for "intelligent patriotism," the pledge has worked both to unite and divide Americans, and it is this capricious nature that so interests Jones and Meyer-from its original celebratory use as a flag salute at a Columbus Day commemorative hosted by Youth's Companion magazine to its position as a tool to emphasize the principle separation of church and state to its usage as a bulwark against the presumed threat of communism under the Eisenhower administration. Myers and Jones effortlessly pull from their trade, an impressive array of newspapers, magazines and other literature-sewing together a book that succeeds admirably in portraying the pledge as a living oath capable of maturing with and reflecting the attitudes of an ever-evolving nation.
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From the Publisher

“A concise and often entertaining history.” —The Wall Street Journal

“A lively, highly readable account that documents not just the beginning of the Pledge but some of the controversies it triggered.” —Tucson Citizen

“A worthwhile read for anyone interested in the evolution of the American system and American popular culture.” —NYMAS Review

“The story of the pledge is a part of American history that is often overlooked. Thanks to Jones and Meyer, that story is now told.” —Roll Call

“Jones (who died before he finished the book) and Meyer do a thorough job tracing the Pledge's history from the germ in Bellamy's brain to the cultural icon it has become.” —Richmond Times-Dispatch

Beverly Gage
What The Pledge…offer[s] is an enthusiast's fascination with the odd (if not quite "magical") string of events that led modern conservatives to adopt the ditty of a 19-century socialist as a 21st-century badge of honor.
—The New York Times

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780312350024
Publisher:
St. Martin's Press
Publication date:
10/12/2010
Edition description:
First Edition
Pages:
224
Product dimensions:
5.80(w) x 8.40(h) x 1.00(d)

Read an Excerpt

On a sultry summer evening in Boston in the year 1892, a thirty-seven-year-old former clergyman named Francis Bellamy sat down at his desk in the offices of a popular family magazine where he worked and began to write:

I Pledge allegiance to my flag . . .

Neither Bellamy nor anyone else could have imagined that the single twenty-three-word sentence that emerged would evolve into one of the most familiar of patriotic texts and, based on student recitations alone, perhaps the most often repeated piece of writing in the history of the English language.

Meet the Author

JEFFREY OWEN JONES worked as an editor, television and film producer, journalist, and teacher. A graduate of Williams College and Middlebury College, he received an Emmy Award for his work in New York local public television and had been published in Smithsonian magazine. He died in 2007.

PETER MEYER is a former news editor of Life magazine and the author of numerous nonfiction books, including the critically acclaimed The Yale Murder, Death of Innocence, and Dark Obsession. Meyer has also won journalism awards from the University of Missouri and the Robert Kennedy Foundation for his reporting and writing for such national publications as Harper's Magazine, Vanity Fair, New York, Life, Time, and People. He is currently Contributing Editor at Education Next magazine and the Bernard Lee Schwartz Policy Fellow at the Thomas B. Fordham Foundation.

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Pledge: A History of the Pledge of Allegiance 5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 1 reviews.
AKReaderLS More than 1 year ago
This book is incredible. There are so many details and facts I either never knew or had forgotten. It's simply amazing what impact the Pledge has had on all our lives and how it all came to be. This one is a keeper!