America Reborn: A Twentieth-Century Narrative in Twenty-six Lives

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9780375703645: America Reborn: A Twentieth-Century Narrative in Twenty-six Lives

In America Reborn, journalist and historian Martin Walker defines twentieth-century America through the portraits of twenty-six American individuals whose accomplishments, innovations and ideals propelled the United States to a position of global dominance.

Here are the thoughts and beliefs of politicians and performers, thinkers and doers, capitalists and revolutionaries, immigrants and the native born. From Teddy Roosevelt's imperial ambitions to Bill Clinton's global vision; Emma Goldman’s radical ideals to William F. Buckley's profound conservatism; Albert Einstein's elegant theories to Katharine Hepburn's elegant delivery-the biographical essays that make up this narrative show us the variety of American archetypes and offer a vision of how strong individualism has always been the bedrock of (helped make up) the American character.

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With the detailed expertise of a historian and the insight of a contemporary, Martin Walker presents a narrative of the outgoing American century through individual portraits of 26 of its most influential participants. Beginning with Teddy Roosevelt and concluding with Bill Clinton, Walker's portraits are less biographical than they are temporal; he brings to life particular moments in the 1900s that his subjects helped shape. For example, his narrative of William Boeing traces the history of American aviation from its origins to the present. After World War I, Boeing, Martin, Loughead, Northrop, and Douglas recognized the potential for commercial aviation, and the industry was born. Walker then outlines the shift into aerospace when President Kennedy pledged to put a man on the moon by the end of the decade, and the industry's present contraction into two conglomerates, competing with Europe's Airbus consortium.

Former bureau chief of The Guardian and author of several critically acclaimed books, Walker is a seasoned, skilled writer. His portraits read easily. Averaging 15 pages, they can be read individually or as part of the larger narrative. Each of them illustrates the "primacy of the individual" and the powerful "cult of the winner," unique characteristics of American society that lead the author to consider the 20th century the "American century" and America the cultural, economic, and political world leader. --Bertina Loeffler Sedlack

From the Back Cover:

“Boasts wise, original insights rendered in glowing prose.”–The Washington Post Book World

“Readable and thoughtful.... [Walker has] a shrewd eye for the significance of people we otherwise take for granted.”–The New York Times Book Review

“One gets from Walker a lucid vision of American utopianism.”–The Boston Globe

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