Witness to America: An Illustrated Documentary History of the United States from the Revolution to Today

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9780062716118: Witness to America: An Illustrated Documentary History of the United States from the Revolution to Today

Witness to America reads as if it were today’s news about unforgettable chapters of our history, told by those who lived it and those who observed it.”
—Steven Spielberg

“The selection of first person narratives is superb, the connective passages are clear and convincing, and the overall effect is to transport the reader on a fascinating journey through American life.”
— Doris Kearns Goodwin, Pulitzer Prize winning author of Team of Rivals

Called “a feast of a book” by Arthur Schlesinger Jr., Witness to America is a classic collection of primary source accounts covering the history of the United States, from George Washington to Barack Obama and everything in between. Originally compiled in 1938 by Henry Steele Commager and Allan Nevins and revised with Stephen Ambrose, Witness to America has been brought up to date by bestselling historian Douglas Brinkley (The Wilderness Warrior, The Great Deluge).

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Review:

Witness to America, a marvelous anthology of eyewitness accounts to key events in American history, opens with an act of rebellion: the Boston Tea Party of November 1773, when American tax resisters dressed as Mohawk Indians boarded a British vessel and dumped its cargo of tea overboard to protest a newly imposed duty on the much-used stimulant. It closes with another act of rebellion: the attempted impeachment of President William Jefferson Clinton, the long-sought dream of the makers of the so-called Republican Revolution of 1994. The first was reported by a participant, George Hewes, the second by a journalist, Michael Kinsley; but both acts reveal much about the values of the nation with the passage of time, and both documents will be of value to anyone seeking to understand America's political history now and in the future.

Editors Stephen E. Ambrose and Douglas Brinkley, who are among the best-known American historians working today, understand the importance of such firsthand accounts to chroniclers of the past. They also understand that for too many Americans, "the word history implies an arid pedantry associated with dusty libraries and musty monographs." They've chosen the documents in this first-rate anthology with an eye to proving that history need not be dull, and the selections tell much that the standard textbooks do not, whether it be the mule-meat-and-bad-bean diet of the Confederates besieged at Vicksburg or the cold-war ravings of Beat Generation patron saint Jack Kerouac. At once entertaining and highly instructive, this book belongs in every history buff's library. --Gregory McNamee

From the Back Cover:

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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Brinkley, Douglas
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Book Description Harper, 1999. Book Condition: New. Brand New, Unread Copy in Perfect Condition. A+ Customer Service! Summary: With material including excerpts from the diaries of John Adams, eyewitness accounts of slavery, and selections from recent events like the moon walk and Watergate, this classic collection will help define the United States as it sets out for the next millennium. Includes a 75-minute audio CD containing dramatic moments of our nation's past. 151 photos. 150 line illustrations. Bookseller Inventory # ABE_book_new_0062716115

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