Cover image for American greats
American greats
Wilson, Robert A., 1941-
First edition.
Publication Information:
New York : PublicAffairs, [1999]

Physical Description:
xv, 315 pages : illustrations (some color) ; 32 cm
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
E169.1 .A471985 1999 Adult Non-Fiction Central Closed Stacks-Oversize

On Order



Renowned American writers and historians evoke America at its bestfrom Tom Paines Common Sense to the Gettysburg Address, from barbed wire to the baseball diamondin a compelling, spectacularly designed and illustrated full-color volume.. For anyone interested in American history and popular cultureand anyone who appreciates a spectacular book on their shelf or coffee tablethis full-color celebration of America at its best offers compelling testimony to a nations courage, character and imagination. For anyone interested in American history and popular cultureand anyone who appreciates a spectacular book on their shelf or coffee tablethis full-color celebration of America at its best offers compelling testimony to a nations courage, character and imagination. Richly illustrated spreads feature original, entertaining essays, many by renowned writers, on a wide array of American ideas, inventions, and accomplishments. While the editors selection of greats is sure to inspire comment and controversy, readers will find nothing debatable about the beauty and quality of this inspiring reflection on a nations heritage.

Author Notes

Stanley Marcus, the oldest son of one of the three founders of Neiman Marcus, attended Harvard University and Harvard Business School.

He wrote a biography entitled Minding the Store and a regular weekly column in the Dallas Morning News.

(Bowker Author Biography)

Reviews 1

Booklist Review

This collection of 81 inspiring essays is meant to recognize significant American ideas, events, people, places, and things. Marcus and Wilson don't claim the collection is all-inclusive, and readers will have their own ideas about what's left out and what shouldn't be there. Among the entries: Thomas Paine's Common Sense, baseball diamonds, Navajo code talkers, music (Duke Ellington's orchestra and Sun Records, which was Elvis Presley's label), food (Coca-Cola's secret formula and Tabasco sauce), policy (the GI Bill and the Marshall Plan). Among the contributors are John Updike on the New Yorker, Marvin Kalb on freedom of expression, Michael Beschloss on the transfer of presidential power, and Joan Ganz Cooney on Sesame Street. There are also tributes to black baseball and the woman suffrage movement, good things that grew out of some of America's worst ideas. The essays are informative, amusing, even rhapsodic, and entries are illustrated with dramatic photographs and drawings. This is altogether a fascinating book. --Vanessa Bush

Table of Contents

Prefacep. xiv
Common Sense: 'Tis Time to Partp. 2
The Automobile Self-Starter: Kettering's Practical Solutionp. 4
Barbed Wire: The Devil's Hatbandp. 8
The Baseball Diamondp. 10
The Berlin Airlift: We Stay in Berlin. Periodp. 12
The Birds of America: Audubon's Great Ideap. 14
Black Baseball: The Bumpy, Begrudging Roadp. 20
The Brooklyn Bridgep. 24
Burroughs-Wellcome and Gertrude Elion: The Perfect Chemistryp. 30
C-SPAN: Where Content is the Starp. 32
Calder Mobilesp. 36
Carnegie Librariesp. 38
There Is Only One Chez Panissep. 40
The Chicago Defender: Aiding and Abetting the Great Migrationp. 44
Coca-Cola's Recipe: The Greatest Secret Ever Kept, Told By The Man Who Keeps Itp. 48
Coney Islandp. 54
The Corvette: Like a Bat Out of Hellp. 58
Country Music: The Bristol Sessionsp. 62
The Duke Ellington Orchestrap. 66
Edison's Invention Factories: "Stick-To-Itiveness"p. 70
The Elements of Style: Parvum Opusp. 72
Farm Security Administration Photographersp. 74
FDR's Fireside Chats: Holding Us Togetherp. 76
Freedom of Expressionp. 78
Freedom Riders: "We Are Prepared to Die"p. 82
The G.I. Bill: Helping Create the Middle Classp. 86
The Gettysburg Addressp. 88
A Great Day in Harlemp. 92
Huckleberry Finnp. 96
The Iditarod: The Last Great Racep. 100
Industrial Design: "A Superior Sense of the Practical"p. 104
Industrial Light and Magic: "To Leap Without Looking"p. 110
Out in the Garage: Where Inventions Beginp. 114
Keeneland: Racing As it Was Meant to Bep. 116
The Kimbell Museum: "The client is human nature"p. 118
Lend Lease: "The Most Unsordid Act"p. 124
The Library of Americap. 128
LIFE Magazinep. 130
M*A*S*H: The Final episodep. 136
The Marshall Plan: Essentials for European Recoveryp. 140
Mohawk Steel Workers: Dealing With the Fearp. 142
Making Journalism History: "We Take You Now to London"p. 146
N.C. Wyeth's Treasure Island Illustrations: Scaring Us Stiffp. 148
National Geographic Maps: A Sense of Where We Arep. 150
Navajo Code Talkers: The Century's Best Kept Secretp. 152
The New York Public Library's Room 315p. 156
The New York Timesp. 158
The New Yorkerp. 164
The Oklahoma Land Rush of 1889: "A Handful of White Dice Thrown Out Across the Prairie"p. 168
The Outermost Housep. 172
The Paris Review Interviews with Writers: Getting Black on Whitep. 174
The Pony Expressp. 176
The Populists: "Caught in the Tentacles of Circumstance"p. 178
The Portable Faulknerp. 182
The Transfer of Presidential Powerp. 184
The Pursuit of Happinessp. 190
A Romance with the Road: "Light out for the territory"p. 194
Can You Tell Me How To Get To Sesame Street?p. 198
The Skyscraperp. 202
The Smithsonian Institution: The Nation's Atticp. 208
The Snapshotp. 214
Sousa's Band: The Music Menp. 218
The Spirit of St. Louis: Shooting Starp. 220
Sportswriting: The Golden Agep. 224
Sun Records: "When All Hell Broke Loose"p. 228
Surfing Oahu's North Shore: "Eddie Would Go"p. 232
Tabasco Saucep. 236
Television Situation Comedyp. 238
Ticker-Tape Paradesp. 244
Travis's Letter from the Alamo: "Victory or Death"p. 250
The Tuskegee Airmen: All Blood Runs Redp. 252
The Underground Railroad: Following the North Starp. 254
Volkswagen's Campaign in Americap. 256
Webster's American Dictionary: "The Final Volley of Independence"p. 260
The Westernp. 262
The Woman Suffrage Movement: "Failure is Impossible"p. 266
Wright Brothers: Concept of Geniusp. 270
Yellow Fever: "A Common Cause for a Disease all too Common"p. 276
Yellowstone, Our First National Parkp. 280
Your Show of Shows: A Legacy of Laughterp. 286
West Pointp. 290
Bibliographyp. 296
Photo Creditsp. 304
Acknowledgmentsp. 306
Indexp. 308