Cover image for Hidden history
Hidden history
Boorstin, Daniel J. (Daniel Joseph), 1914-2004.
First U.S. edition.
Publication Information:
New York : Harper & Row, [1987]

Physical Description:
pages cm
General Note:
"A Cornelia & Michael Bessie book."

Includes index.
Format :

On Order



In this provocative new collection, the Pulitzer Prize-winning author Daniel J. Boorstin explores the essential "hidden history" of the American experience that is overlooked by most historians. In twenty-four essays -- divided into five sections, "The Quest for History," "A By-Product Nation," "The Rhetoric of Democracy," "Unsung Experiments," and "The Momentum of Technology" -- Daniel J. Boorstin examines significant rhythms, patterns, and institutions of everyday American life: from his intimate portraits of such legendary figures as Paul Revere, Abigail Adams, and Thomas Jefferson, to more expansive discussions of historical phenomena, such as the Therapy of Distance and the Law of Survival of the Unread.

Author Notes

A prolific writer, Daniel Boorstin is the author of numerous scholarly and popular works in American Studies. Born in Georgia and raised in Oklahoma, Boorstin received degrees from Harvard and Yale universities and was a Rhodes Scholar at Balliol College, Oxford. A member of the Massachusetts Bar, he has been visiting professor of American History at the Universities of Rome, Puerto Rico, Kyoto, and Geneva. He was the first incumbent of the chair of American History at the Sorbonne and Pitt Professor of American History and Institutions at Cambridge. He taught at the University of Chicago for 25 years.

In 1959 Columbia University awarded him its Bancroft Prize for The Americans: The Colonial Experience (1958), the first volume of his trilogy titled The Americans. In 1966 he received the Francis Parkman Award for the second volume, The Americans: The National Experience (1965), and in 1974 he received the Pulitzer Prize for the third volume, The Americans: The Democratic Experience (1973). Many of Boorstin's books have been translated into Chinese, Japanese, and various European languages.

In 1969 Boorstin became director of the National Museum of History and Technology of the Smithsonian Institution. In 1973 he became senior historian at the Smithsonian. Boorstin was appointed Librarian of Congress in 1975 and served in that position with distinction for 12 years, becoming Librarian Emeritus in 1987.

(Publisher Provided)

Reviews 2

Booklist Review

The eminent U.S. historian and former Librarian of Congress gathers from various stages in his 40-year career a collection of essays and abridgments from his books that investigates certain overlooked or disregarded corners of history. From the ``mission'' of the professional historian as he sees it, to interpreting the restoration of colonial Williamsburg as a keen expression of our national culture, to how the nature of foreign travel has changed from the last century to the present, Boorstin nudges the reader into new ways of thinking, demonstrating a natural zeal and uninhibitedness. History engagingly written, deeply felt, widely appealing. To be indexed. BH. 973 U.S. Civilization [CIP] 87-45023

Publisher's Weekly Review

In his 70s, Boorstin recently retired as Librarian of Congress, a position that he had held since 1975 that capped his career as one of America's eminent historians. In this collection of essays the author of The Discovers and the trilogy The Americans writes with the breadth and vitality that mark all his books. His title has deliberate meaning: Boorstin implies the historian's need to probe socio-political patterns from philosophical and uncliched angles. Here he recaptures his ``historical adventures,'' ranging from a study of the historian's discipline (his insight into Gibbon's Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire as an ``intimate'' work is rich and subtle) through a look at America as a ``By-Product Nation'' not greatly driven by theories, but rather formed by action under stress (he sees FDR's four-term presidency as an example). And finally, a series of segments from his writingspresent his views of America's ``unsung'' political experiments. Boorstin's closing emphasis on our unacknowledged dominance by the ``kingdom of the Machine'' leads readers to hope for his further expansion of this theme. (October 21) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved