What ties Americans to one another? What unifies a nation of citizens with different racial, religious and ethnic backgrounds? These were the dilemmas faced by Americans in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries as they sought ways to bind the newly United States together. In A is for American, award-winning historian Jill Lepore portrays seven men who turned to language to help shape a new nation’s character and boundaries. From Noah Webster’s attempts to standardize American spelling, to Alexander Graham Bell’s use of “Visible Speech” to help teach the deaf to talk, to Sequoyah’s development of a Cherokee syllabary as a means of preserving his people’s independence, these stories form a compelling portrait of a developing nation’s struggles. Lepore brilliantly explores the personalities, work, and influence of these figures, seven men driven by radically different aims and temperaments. Through these superbly told stories, she chronicles the challenges faced by a young country trying to unify its diverse people.
"A mere four hundred British families applied to live for three months in London's retrofitted 1900 House, but nearly ten times as many Americans are seeking to live for twice as long in the far more physically grueling Frontier House."
"Stanford historian Jack Rakove, who serves as consultant, confesses, 'If you ask from a historian's vantage point, how does this correspond to contemporary scholarship? Well, probably, not that well. But if you ask, what is it that students of this age ought to be introduced to so that they have a rough idea of the Revolution, it's actually pretty good.'"
A collection of primary sources documenting the early clash of cultures in the Americas, Encounters in the New World spans the years from Columbus's voyage in 1492 to the publication of the autobiography of Olaudah Equiano, a former slave, in 1789. Emotional eyewitness accounts--memoirs, petitions, diaries, captivity narratives, private correspondence--as well as formal documents, official reports, and journalistic reportage give body and texture to the historical events described. A special 16-page color cartographic section, including maps from both Europe and North America, is fascinating not only for the maps' telltale imperfections, but also because they convey information about how their creators saw themselves and the world around them. A Jesuit priest's chronicle of life among his Iroquois captors, Aztec records of forbidding omens, excerpts from Columbus's ship's log, John Smith's account of cannibalism among the British residents of Jamestown, slave auction advertisements, memoirs by several members of Cortes's expedition, the reminiscences of an escaped slave-these are just a few examples of the wealth of primary sources collected here. Jill Lepore, winner of the distinguished Bancroft Prize for history in 1999, provides informed, expert commentary linking the documents into a fascinating and seamless narrative. Textbooks may interpret history, but the books in the Pages from History series are history. Each title, compiled and edited by a prominent historian, is a collection of primary sources relating to a particular topic of historical significance. Documentary evidence including news articles, government documents, memoirs, letters, diaries, fiction, photographs, and facsimiles allows history to speak for itself and turns every reader into a historian. Headnotes, extended captions, sidebars, and introductory essays provide the essential context that frames the documents. All the books are amply illustrated and each spans the years froincludes a documentary picture essay, chronology, further reading, source notes, and index.