Book: Looking for America - Personal Travels in US History by Chris Glenniecategories: Book, United States Travel, California Gold Rush, US Founding, American Civil War, 9/11, War of 1812, Indian Wars, Apollo Space Mission, Civil Rights, Prohibition, Pearl Harbor, United States History
Chris Glennieabout this book: Looking for America is my way of telling the story of America from the Pilgrim Fathers (so-called) to 9/11 and beyond. I want people to know and understand the US better; that is the motivation behind the book. I have poured 5 years of my life into researching and writing it and now I need to bring it to the widest possible audience.
It was born out of my love for the country and long personal exposure to its people, culture and history. I first visited the US right after graduating from university nearly 30 years ago, and have returned on average every year since, either for work or pleasure. My wife is American, and my children "haff-and-hawfs", which gives me a particular point of view, and a particular obsession with trying to understand the US (hence, "Looking for"). I was struck one holiday, recounted in the book, that despite the US looming very large in a British/Western consciousness (through politics, books, films, etc.) and despite our being somewhat familiar with her history, many people remain astonishingly ignorant of her real history, and how it helps to explain why we are indeed "divided by a common language".
Each chapter focuses on one key event from US history, chosen not only because the event is important or illuminative in its own right, but because it happened somewhere I have visited. The events, and related events, are always introduced via a personal story, something that serves to connect the present to the past. The story of what happened - be it Custer's Last Stand, the Battle of Gettysburg, or the launch of the first Apollo moon mission, all examples from the book - is then recounted, oftentimes dispelling elements of mythology in the process, before concluding by returning to the present day and reflecting on how the event can illuminate elements of contemporary American politics, culture or society.
The book is therefore personal in many ways: it's my selection of stories to tell, it incorporates my personal history into the history of this dominant nation, and it is my personal reflection on what it all adds up to. As such, it is neither a comprehensive A-Z history, nor a piece of original research; its originality, however, lies in the admixture of its various elements, which makes it resonate with a wider audience.
It is written for people like me, people interested in America, in history, but who want a lightness of touch, rather than a dry academic tome, and who are looking for a way of understanding America in the age of President Trump and the hit musical "Hamilton" through said history.
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