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"The freer we are … the stronger we are," writes David Halberstam in this probing compilation of original essays which distill the essence of America, an evergreen subject rendered even more timely by recent world events that highlight cultural clashes and prompt us not just to reconsider foreign attitudes and aspirations but to think anew about our own.
Each chapter explores fundamental qualities, concepts and accomplishments that shape the American character: the sheer size of our country; the legendary events of our history; the heroes, villains, and icons of our national mythology; our enduring dream of a meritocratic society; and the unmistakable spirit that defines us both to ourselves and the rest of the world. Halberstam's keen observations introduce richly varied contributions by distinguished and eloquent commentators like Russell Baker, Ben Bradlee, James Fallows, Cynthia Gorney, Vartan Gregorian, and Janet Maslin, among others, who consider everything from Manifest Destiny to the McCarthy hearings and from Paul Revere's midnight gallop to John Wayne's classic cowboy riding tall through the American Century. Inspiring, enlightening, and enhanced by more than 300 photographs and illustrations, this wide-ranging collection provides thought-provoking, often surprising insights into how today's America took shape, who we are as a nation now, and where our country is headed.