Cover image for Booknotes : on American character
Booknotes : on American character
Lamb, Brian, 1941-
First edition.
Publication Information:
New York : PublicAffairs, [2004]

Physical Description:
xv, 591 pages ; 25 cm
General Note:
Collection of essays by various authors based on interviews originally held on the television program Booknotes.

Includes index.
Added Author:
Added Uniform Title:
Booknotes (Television program)
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
E169.1 .B74 2004 Adult Non-Fiction Central Closed Stacks

On Order



The bestselling Booknotes series celebrates C-SPAN's 25th anniversary with a new collection examining our country and its character. Over the past twenty-five years, C-SPAN has established itself as a national treasure. And Booknotes, the flagship of its book programming, has become the premier place to see serious, thoughtful nonfiction get its television due. Over the past fifteen years, Brian Lamb, the CEO of C-SPAN and host of Booknotes, has interviewed 765 authors on the program, and these deep and wide-ranging interviews have been the basis for three bestselling Booknotes books. Now, in a new collection, Booknotes: On American Character, Lamb has selected seventy original pieces that reveal something about America: the nation's people, history, and character. Here are biographies of artists, businessmen, politicians, and inventors; stories of events famous, infamous, and less well-known in the nation's history; a look at how politics works in America and how the nation responds to conflict. Our leading historians, journalists, and public figures draw from a diverse set of sources to examine what kind of nation and people we are. The result is a valuable addition to the Boo

Reviews 2

Booklist Review

During the last 15 years, Lamb has been the host of C-SPAN's Booknotes and has interviewed more than 750 authors of nonfiction books. In this new collection, Lamb has selected 72 original pieces from these interviews and has edited them into essays. Their topics span 225 years of the American experience. They include Michael Moore (views from the Left), Ann Coulter (views from the Right), Michael Korda (memoirs of Presidents Reagan and Nixon), Arthur Schlesinger Jr. (American multiculturalism), Sandra Day O'Connor (the early years of the first female justice), Isaac Stern (his life and music), David Von Drehle (the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire), and Richard Lingeman (Sinclair Lewis). The book is divided into sections entitled The Nation's Leaders, Social and Political Movements in America, America at War, A Nation of Law and Order, American Inventors and Businessmen, and Our Cultural Heritage. Readers who watch Lamb's engrossing TV interviews will welcome the book. --George Cohen Copyright 2004 Booklist

Publisher's Weekly Review

This rather desultory anthology gathers some 72 sessions of C-SPAN's popular author-interview series, this time covering prominent nonfiction books on American history. As in the three previous Booknotes anthologies, the interviews are edited to remove host Lamb's side of the dialogue; at their best, they read like chatty, informal essays. But the fact remains that no amount of editing can impart to conversational exchanges the kind of structure, focus and polish that makes an essay readable. In consequence, these pieces-lacking the orienting and framing clues that the host's questions provide to the TV audience-tend to lurch from one topic to another, rarely settling down to a coherent theme. It doesn't help that so many of the books discussed are biographies, which can give rise to perfunctory first-he-did-this-and-then-he-did-that narrative rehashes. The most coherent and interesting pieces are the polemical ones, like Victor Davis Hanson's diatribe against American immigration policy and James Loewen's critique of high school American history texts, both of which have the vigorous drive of an oft-rehearsed stump speech. But none of them really surmounts the problem that, no matter how lively it may sound on TV, conversational English can be very tedious to read-coarse and flat, stripped of inflection and rhythm, full of stammering repetitions and the sort of vivacious colloquialism ("For example, Union Station in Washington D. C., in 1909, she busted up a saloon and who knows? I'm not sure why she did that" blurts Fran Grace about temperance crusader Carrie Nation) that comes off as discombobulated rambling on the page. There are eminent personages aplenty in here, but they're not shown in their best light. (Mar.) Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.

Table of Contents

Brian Lamb
Introductionp. xi
Ann Coulter on Views from the Rightp. 3
Michael Moore on Views from the Leftp. 8
The Nation's Leaders
James Srodes on Benjamin Franklin: Printer, Scientist, Founding Fatherp. 15
Jon Kukla on the Louisiana Purchasep. 22
Joseph Martin Hernon on Character and Characters in the U.S. Senatep. 28
Eliot A. Cohen on Leadership in Wartimep. 34
Frank J. Williams and Edward Steers Jr. on Abraham Lincolnp. 41
Roy Morris Jr. on the Disputed Election of 1876p. 49
Kenneth D. Ackerman on James A. Garfieldp. 58
Eric Rauchway on the McKinley Assassinationp. 67
Phyllis Lee Levin on Edith and Woodrow Wilsonp. 77
Lee Edwards on Walter Judd: Doctor, Missionary, Congressmanp. 83
Steve Neal on Harry Truman and Dwight Eisenhower: A Presidential Partnershipp. 92
Gilbert C. Fite on Senator Richard Russell of Georgiap. 101
Michael Korda on Two Presidential Memoirsp. 109
Social Movements and Political Visions
Fran Grace on Carry A. Nation, Prohibitionistp. 117
David Von Drehle on the Triangle Firep. 126
Dorothy Height on the Civil Rights Movementp. 135
Vernon Jordan on His Civil Rights Yearsp. 143
Alan Ebenstein on Friedrich Hayek, Free Market Philosopherp. 151
Rick Perlstein on Barry Goldwater and the Rise of Conservatismp. 157
Dan Baum on the Coors Familyp. 163
David Boaz on Libertarianismp. 169
Six Views of Race in American Societyp. 174
Arthur Schlesinger Jr. on American Multiculturalismp. 185
Victor Davis Hanson on the Problem of Illegal Immigrationp. 190
Marvin Olasky on the Failure of the Welfare Systemp. 198
America at War
Gordon S. Wood on the American Revolutionp. 207
Jay Winik on the End of the Civil Warp. 214
Warren Zimmermann on American Imperialismp. 220
Diana Preston on Sinking the Lusitaniap. 229
Winston Groom on World War I in Flandersp. 237
Margaret MacMillan on the Paris Peace Conferencep. 246
Martin Goldsmith on Nazi Germany's Kulturbundp. 254
Joseph E. Persico on World War II Espionagep. 263
Rick Atkinson on World War II in North Africap. 270
Hampton Sides on the Bataan Marchp. 277
Philip Taubman on the U-2 Spy Planep. 284
Ted Gup on the CIA's Covert Operativesp. 292
John Laurence on a Vietnam War Memoirp. 301
Tom Philpott on Vietnam POW Jim Thompsonp. 307
Maya Lin on Creating the Vietnam Veterans Memorialp. 315
Robert Coram on Fighter Pilot John Boydp. 320
Dana Priest on America's Modern-Day Militaryp. 327
A Nation of Law & Order
R. Kent Newmyer on John Marshall and the Supreme Courtp. 335
Dennis J. Hutchinson on John Knox and the 1936 Supreme Courtp. 343
Ted P. Yeatman on Frank and Jesse James, Outlaw Brothersp. 352
Fox Butterfield on a History of Violence in Americap. 359
Dorothy Rabinowitz on the Child Molestation Cases of the Early 1980sp. 367
Edward Lazarus on the Modern Supreme Courtp. 374
Sandra Day O'Connor on the Early Years of the First Female Justicep. 383
Eric Schlosser on America's Black Market in Sex and Drugsp. 390
American Inventors and Businessmen
Kirkpatrick Sale on Robert Fulton and the Steamboatp. 397
Charles Slack on Charles Goodyear and Rubber Vulcanizationp. 406
Peter Krass on Andrew Carnegiep. 413
Daniel Stashower on Philo T. Farnsworth: The Inventor of Televisionp. 421
Jennet Conant on the Tuxedo Park Science Laboratoryp. 429
Michael Paterniti on a Road Trip with Albert Einstein's Brainp. 439
Ellen Joan Pollock on Martin Frankel's Financial Scamsp. 446
Monica Langley on Sandy Weill and the Rise of Citicorpp. 452
Our Cultural Heritage
Simon Winchester on William Minor and the Oxford English Dictionaryp. 461
Linda H. Davis on Stephen Crane, Civil War Novelistp. 468
Richard Lingeman on Sinclair Lewis, Novelist and Social Criticp. 474
Linda Simon on William James, Popular Intellectualp. 481
John Taliaferro on Gutzon Borglum, Creator of Mount Rushmorep. 488
Laura Claridge on Norman Rockwell's Portraits of Americap. 496
Simon Worrall on the Forged Poem of Emily Dickinsonp. 503
Isaac Stern on a Life in Musicp. 510
Michael Eric Dyson on Tupac Shakur and Hip-Hop Culturep. 517
Brian Burrell on America's Mottoes and Pledgesp. 524
James W. Loewen on Teaching U.S. Historyp. 527
Wayne Fields on Presidential Rhetoricp. 535
Appendixp. 543
Complete list of C-Span Booknotes (1989-2004)p. 545
Indexp. 571