A Twentieth-Century Narrative in Twenty-six Lives
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Here is the story of America in the twentieth century as told through the lives of twenty-six of its most remarkable and historically crucial men and women.
The people Martin Walker has chosen to portray are presidents, industrialists, artists, thinkers, entertainers, soldiers, spies, criminals, and evangelists, among others, and he makes the life of each individual serve as a framework for a discussion of the nation as a whole in a century when it was reinventing itself.
Through Theodore Roosevelt, Walker examines America's ambition; through Woodrow Wilson, our idealism; through FDR, our triumph on the world stage; through Richard Nixon, our retreat into cynicism; through Bill Clinton, globalization and controversy about the right way to use America's unprecedented power.
In Henry Ford he finds the creator of both the mass-market product and the mass-market consumer, and in Walt Disney, the revolutionizer not only of America's entertainment but also of the world's. William Boeing is the innovator who spurs the behemoth of American aviation; Walter Reuther defines labor's struggles; George C. Marshall represents the spread of America's economic genius in a war-ravaged Europe.
In the lives of Duke Ellington, Frank Lloyd Wright, Katharine Hepburn, and John Steinbeck, Walker traces America's far-reaching cultural influences. Babe Ruth leads to a consideration of the role of sports in our society; William F. Buckley, Jr., to a discussion of conservatism; Martin Luther King, Jr., to matters of race; Betty Friedan to the shifting role of women; Billy Graham to an examination of religion; Emma Goldman to minority viewpoints and dissent; Black Jack Pershing to the place of the military; Lucky Luciano to crime and corruption; Albert Einstein to immigration; Richard Bissell to spies and the intelligence network; Alan Greenspan to finance and banking; and Winston Churchill to the American diaspora.
At once intimate and wide-ranging, America Reborn is an altogether engrossing work of narrative history.
From the Hardcover edition.