In this newly updated edition, Douglas Brinkley, one of our most distinguished historians, brings together a stunning collection of eyewitness accounts that chronicles the American experience from the perspectives of those who participated in its making.
Witness to America includes nearly 150 works drawn from America's history, from the first shots of the Revolutionary War to the twenty-first century. From Patrick Henry's rousing "Give Me Liberty or Give Me Death!" speech to John Brown's stand at Harpers Ferry; from Franklin D. Roosevelt's promise of a New Deal to Neil Armstrong's account of walking on the moon; from 9/11 and Hurricane Katrina to Barack Obama's landmark speech on race: this sweeping volume brings the milestones in American history vividly to life.
Here are unique and revealing selections from such historical figures as John Adams, Walt Whitman, Mark Twain, Dwight D. Eisenhower, and John F. Kennedy, as well as influential individuals, among them Booker T. Washington, Charles Lindbergh, Ernie Pyle, Rosa Parks, and Betty Friedan. While many of the selections come from notable citizens, most are from ordinary Americans—schoolteachers, students, homemakers, pioneers, and soldiers—who describe the everyday events that have epitomized American life over the course of its history, indelibly demonstrating both the variety and vitality of the American character.
Witness to America sweeps across the vast territory that is our nation, illuminating the movements, ideas, inventions, and events that have shaped and defined us—from the Pony Express to the personal computer; from the frontier to the rise of suburbia; from farming to modernization and the information age. Within these pages discover the art of whaling, learn about survival on the Gold Rush trail, experience the glory and trauma of war, and glean new insight on the great leaders. Here are debates and speeches, diary entries, letters, memoirs, court records, and more—including many first-person accounts that make history come alive as never before, such as a powerful description of the atomic explosion from a correspondent on the Enola Gay and a young student's evaluation of the changing roles of women at her high school.
Witness to America is a fascinating, highly readable, and entertaining collection that shows us what America is and where it may go.
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About the Author
Douglas Brinkley is a professor of history at Rice University and contributing editor at Vanity Fair. Seven of his books have been selected as New York Times Notable Books of the Year. He lives in Texas with his wife and three children.