A Little History of the United States

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9781504629959: A Little History of the United States
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[Read by Arthur Morey]

A fascinating look at five hundred years of American history from one of our most renowned historians.

How did a land and people of such immense diversity come together under a banner of freedom and equality to form one of the most remarkable nations in the world? Everyone from young adults to grandparents will be fascinated by the answers uncovered in James West Davidson's vividly told A Little History of the United States. In three hundred fast-moving pages, Davidson guides listeners through five hundred years, from the first contact between the two halves of the world to the rise of America as a superpower in an era of atomic perils and diminishing resources.

In short, vivid chapters the book brings to life hundreds of individuals whose stories are part of the larger American story. Pilgrim William Bradford stumbles into an Indian deer trap on his first day in America; Harriet Tubman lets loose a pair of chickens to divert attention from her escaping slaves; the toddler Andrew Carnegie, later an ambitious industrial magnate, gobbles his oatmeal with a spoon in each hand. Such stories are riveting in themselves, but they also spark larger questions to ponder about freedom, equality, and unity in the context of a nation that is, and always has been, remarkably divided and diverse.

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From the Author:

Who are the readers of this book, and how do you hope to inspire them?

This is a book for adults masquerading as one for young people. That’s said tongue-in-cheek, but still . . . When I was an eighth grader, the last thing I wanted to endure was high-minded civics lectures. So my first rule here is, treat younger readers as adults. Keep the story engaging and fast-paced, but also honest and about the big picture. Because there are also vast numbers of adults out there who had the American history beaten out of them in dull social studies classes. Those adults deserve better. And too few historians write for them.
 
Which key events in American history shaped the nation most powerfully?

I’d turn the question around. How do a thousand smaller pieces of history come together to shape key events? Look at the Civil War. If the purpose of a democratic republic is to resolve conflicts peacefully, then the Civil War is the republic’s biggest failure. How did that happen? It’s perhaps the strangest story in our history, of how the ideas of equality and liberty were growing and spreading at the very same time that inequality and slavery were becoming more deeply entrenched in American society.
 
Of the countless individuals in American history, do you have a favorite?

Many favorites, not one. But here’s a cliché: Washington. You know—the bland, blank face on the dollar bill? I found myself liking him more and more as I got to know him. In the depths of the Revolution, begging his bedraggled soldiers “in the most affectionate manner” to reenlist. Grinning, shouting, and waving a handkerchief at the prospect of trapping the British at Yorktown. So embarrassed by the honors heaped upon him on the way to his first inauguration, he rose early and snuck out of town before his escort could arrive. Somber toward the end of his life at the thought that “nothing but the rooting out of slavery can perpetuate the existence of our union.” And on that, he was right.

About the Author:

James West Davidson, a widely respected historian, has written on American history and the detective work that goes into it, as well as books about the outdoors. His textbooks for the middle grades, high school and college have been read by millions of students. He is also coauthor of Great Heart, cited by the National Geographic Society as one of the 100 greatest adventure books of all time. He lives in Rhinebeck, NY.

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Other Popular Editions of the Same Title

9780300223484: A Little History of the United States (Little Histories)

Featured Edition

ISBN 10:  030022348X ISBN 13:  9780300223484
Publisher: Yale University Press, 2016
Softcover

9780300181418: A Little History of the United States (Little Histories)

Yale U..., 2015
Hardcover

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