Simon Winchester, the acclaimed New York Times bestselling author of Atlantic and The Professor and the Madman, delivers his first book about America: a fascinating popular history that illuminates the men who toiled fearlessly to discover, connect, and bond the citizenry and geography of the U.S.A. from its beginnings.
How did America become “one nation, indivisible”? What unified a growing number of disparate states into the modern country we recognize today? To answer these questions, Winchester follows in the footsteps of America’s most essential explorers, thinkers, and innovators, such as Lewis and Clark and the leaders of the Great Surveys; the builders of the first transcontinental telegraph and the powerful civil engineer behind the Interstate Highway System. He treks vast swaths of territory, from Pittsburgh to Portland, Rochester to San Francisco, Seattle to Anchorage, introducing the fascinating people who played a pivotal role in creating today’s United States.
Throughout, he ponders whether the historic work of uniting the States has succeeded, and to what degree. Featuring 32 illustrations throughout the text, The Men Who United the States is a fresh look at the way in which the most powerful nation on earth came together.
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About the Author
Simon Winchester is the acclaimed author of many books, including The Professor and the Madman, The Men Who United the States, The Map That Changed the World, The Man Who Loved China, A Crack in the Edge of the World, and Krakatoa, all of which were New York Times bestsellers and appeared on numerous best and notable lists. In 2006, Winchester was made an officer of the Order of the British Empire (OBE) by Her Majesty the Queen. He resides in western Massachusetts.
Hometown:New York; Massachusetts; Scotland
Date of Birth:September 28, 1944
Place of Birth:London, England
Education:M.A., St. Catherine¿s College, Oxford, 1966
Table of Contents
List of Maps and Illustrations xi
Author's Note xiii
Preface: The Pure Physics of Union xv
Part I When America's Story was Dominated By Wood, 1785-1805 1
A View across the Ridge 3
Drawing a Line in the Sand 6
Peering through the Trees 17
The Frontier and the Thesis 24
The Wood Was Become Grass 32
Encounters with the Sioux 41
First Lady of the Plains 49
High Plains Rafters 52
Passing the Gateway 55
Shoreline Passage 65
Part II When America's Story Went Beneath the Earth, 1809-1901 73
The Lasting Benefit of Harmony 75
The Science That Changed America 77
Drawing the Colors of Rocks 80
The Wellspring of Knowledge 83
The Tapestry of Underneath 88
Setting the Lures 91
Off to See the Elephant 96
The West, Revealed 104
The Singular First Adventure of Kapurats 113
The Men Who Gave Us Yellowstone 129
Diamonds, Sex, and Race 139
Part III When the American Story Traveled by Water, 1803-1900 163
Journeys to the Fall Line 165
The Streams beyond the Hills 171
The Pivot and the Feather 180
The First Big Dig 188
The Wedded Waters of New York 196
The Linkman Cometh 214
That OF Man River 222
Part IV When the American Story was Fanned by Fire, 1811-1956 239
May the Roads Rise Up 241
Rain, Steam, and Speed 248
The Annihilation of the In-Between 252
The Immortal Legacy of Crazy Judah 259
Colonel Eisenhower's Epiphanic Expedition 280
The Colossus of Roads 294
And Then We Looked Up 312
The Twelve-Week Crossing 316
Part V When the American Story was Told Through Metal, 1835-Tomorrow 329
To Go, but Not to Move 331
The Man Who Tamed the Lightning 335
The Signal Power of Human Speech 351
With Power for One and All 357
Lighting the Corn, Powering the Prairie 375
The Talk of the Nation 385
Making Money from Air 396
Television: The Irresistible Force 406
The All of Some Knowledge 417
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
I had read another of Simon Winchester's books and enjoyed his writing. This book failed me for the vast number of inaccuracies and incorrect information. It made me question the rest of his book as to being truly factual. Examples are: He writes of the mountain man Old Bill Williams and that he was probably a cannibal when he lead Charles Fremont's expedition into the San Juan Mountains in the winter. Williams tried to talk Fremont out of attempting to traverse the San Juan Mtns. A year later Williams was killed, probably by Ute Indians. Fremont then laid blame on Williams for the failure and accused him of being a cannibal. When Winchester writes about Yellowstone he fails to mention John Colter who reported seeing the geysers and mudpots. It was known as "Colter's Hell" and many did not believe him. When he writes of John Wesley Powell rowing through Cataract Canyon he states there was no where they could land on shore. In truth they portaged many of the rapids of Cataract and even stopped to shoot two desert bighorn sheep.Then Winchester writes, "boaters and rafters still vanish without trace today in the treacherous boils of Marble Canyon, never to be found whole." Might want to tell the National Park Service about all these disappearing boaters!!! Continuing on in the Grand Canyon he states that Lava Falls is now silted up by Lake Mead. Lava Falls is alive and well. Lava Cliff Rapid was inundated by the reservoir. He says the Green River comes from Yellowstone. The Green's headwaters are the Wind River Range in Wyoming. In writing of the "Great Diamond Hoax" he says that today, "The Bureau of Land Management looks after this remote, unwanted wilderness and does its best to keep away people who have no business there." BLM does not keep people away, and wilderness is very much WANTED! I found several more inaccuracies and finally conceded to read no more. Very disappointing. I find myself not wanting to read more of this author.
Author has a great vocabulary and seems to enjoy flaunting it. He cannot tell a story to save his life. This book was more about himself and his research than about what the title says. I bought the book because I was interested in US history. Very poor book for that purpose.
“The Men Who United The States” is the fascinating story of those who bound America together. It features the visionaries, such as Thomas Jefferson, Meriwether Lewis and William Clark, the explorers he sent into uncharted lands, geological surveyor William Maclure who created the maps for those who would follow, Samuel Morris who invented the telegraph and the road, canal and railroad builders who physically stitched the states together. When I picked this up I was expecting to read about the statesmen who signed the treaties that annexed lands and developed the individual states. Author Simon Winchester approaches the topic much differently. He introduces his readers to a means of uniting much different, but at least as necessary, as what I was expecting. It has filled an important gap in my historical education.
Winchester not only weaves familiar history with the unfamiliar staying true to his original motif threads, but he brings a fascinating perspective to it all. His voice is a pleasure to listen to.
I heard the author talk about his book on mpr and I thought that it would have much more of a local MN interest to me than it does, although I am only about half finished reading it. But he starts out telling a shortened version of the Lewis and Clark expedition and I am always interested in learning more about that. He interrupts the historical narrative, once in a while, to inject some interesting tids bits of what is happening to the region that he is writing about at the present moment. I am enjoying the book and learning much about the history of places east of my home state of MN. I just finished reading the part of the book where he writes about how George Washington explores his own land given to him by the British gov't and comes up with an ill concieved plan to build a canal there. I recommend reading this book. So far it has been interesting to me.It has just come out and so I wasnt yet able to purchase it in paperback form.
Interesting stories in a whole that didn't quite gel.
Learned more than I expected