Witness to America: An Illustrated Documentary History of the United States from the Revolution to Today, Volume 1

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HarperCollins, Oct 20, 1999 - History - 605 pages
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"The United States has to move very fast to even stand still."

-- John F. Kennedy

In this newly revised and updated edition, two of our most distinguished historians, Stephen Ambrose and Douglas Brinkley, bring together a stunning collection of eyewitness accounts and illustrations that chronicles the American experience from the perspectives of those who participated in its making.

Originally edited in 1939 by Henry Steele Commager and Allan Nevins, Witness to America includes more than 150 works drawn from more than two hundred years of American history, from the first shots of the Revolutionary War to the closing of the Twentieth Century. From Patrick Henry's rousing "Give Me Liberty or Give Me Death!" speech to the Virginia House of Burgesses, to John Brown's stand at Harper's Ferry; from Franklin D. Roosevelt's promise of a New Deal to Neil Armstrong's account of walking on the moon, this sweeping volume brings the milestones in American history vividly to life.

Here are unique and revealing selections from such historical figures as John Adams, Walt Whitman, Mark Twain, Dwight D. Eisenhower and John F. Kennedy, as well as influential individuals including Booker T. Washington, Charles Lindbergh, Ernie Pyle, Rosa Parks, and Betty Friedan. While many of the selections come from notable citizens, most are from ordinary Americans--schoolteachers, students, homemakers, pioneers, and soldiers--who describe the everyday events that have epitomized American life over the course of its history.

Witness to America sweeps across the vast territory that is our nation, illuminating the movements, ideas, inventions, and events that have shaped and defined us--from the Pony Express to the PC; from the frontier to the rise of suburbia; from farming to modernization and the information age. Within these pages discover the art of whaling, learn about survival on the gold rush trail, experience the glory and trauma of war, and glean new insight on the great leaders. Here are debates and speeches, diary entries, letters, memoirs, court records, and more--including many first-person accounts that make history come alive as never before, such as a powerful description of the atomic explosion from a correspondent on the Enola Gay, and a young student's evaluation of the changing roles of women at her high school. The selections explore the diverse facets of America's cultural and political heritage and the constant shift and flux of everyday life, indelibly demonstrating both the variety and vitality of the American character.

Illustrated with spectacular photographs, drawings, and paintings and featuring a 74-minute audio CD with actual clips and dramatizations of many of the entries, Witness to America is a fascinating, highly readable, and entertaining collection that shows us what America is--and where it may go as it enters the next century.

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Witness to America: an illustrated documentary history of the United States from the Revolution to today

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Ambrose and Brinkley, both of the Eisenhower Center for American Studies of the University of New Orleans, present a collection of nearly 170 primary historical documents paired with roughly 120 black ... Read full review

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About the author (1999)

Historian Stephen E. Ambrose grew up in Wisconsin and attended the University of Wisconsin and the University of Louisiana. Ambrose is considered to be one of the foremost historical scholars of recent times and has been a professor for over three decades. He is also the founder and president of the National D-Day Museum in New Orleans. His works include D-Day: June 6, 1944: The Climactic Battle of World War II, Citizen Soldiers: The U. S. Army from Normandy Beaches to the Bulge to the Surrender of Germany, June 7, 1944-May 7, 1945, Band of Brothers: E Company, 506th Regiment, 101st Airborne from Normandy to Hitler's Eagle's Nest and Undaunted Courage: Meriwether Lewis, Thomas Jefferson and the Opening of the American West. Abrose served historical consultant on the motion picture Saving Private Ryan.

Douglas Brinkley is a professor of history at Rice University and a contributing editor to Vanity Fair. The Chicago Tribune has dubbed him "America's new past master." His most recent books are The Quiet World, The Wilderness Warrior, and The Great Deluge. Six of his books have been selected as New York Times Notable Books of the Year. He lives in Texas with his wife and three children.

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