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America, 1908: The Dawn of Flight, the Race to the Pole, the Invention of the Model T and the Making of a Modern Nation Hardcover – November 6, 2007


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--This text refers to the Paperback edition.

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Scribner; First Edition edition (November 6, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0743280776
  • ISBN-13: 978-0743280778
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 1.1 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (35 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #198,763 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Former Vanity Fair contributing editor Rasenberger (High Steel) provides an entertaining survey of 366 distant American days (1908 was a leap year). As the author admits, history does not fit neatly into 12-month segments, and Rasenberger frequently has to reach for benchmarks. Yes, during 1908, Henry Ford introduced the Model-T: the first affordable automobile. However, he'd actually invented the horseless buggy years before. These quibbles aside, what a difference a century makes, and how easy the confidence of 1908 looks by contrast with today. The imperially ambitious Theodore Roosevelt was president, and the world seemed ripe for redemption through American innovation, exploration and colonization. All righteous patriots applauded as TR dispatched his Great White Fleet on a Friendship Cruise round the world, to show off American might. Yet, as Rasenberger shows, a different reality lurked behind the red, white and blue banners. That same year, anarchist Selig Silverstein exploded a bomb in New York City, and throughout the South blacks died at the ends of nooses hoisted by lynch mobs. Rasenberger renders 1908 as a series of snapshots, and his camera never blinks. 44 b&w illus. (Nov.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

Review

“A grand and inspiring panoply."

--Newsweek

“Rasenberger's research is voluminous and he is a master storyteller.”

-- Chicago Sun-Times --This text refers to the Paperback edition.

Customer Reviews

It is well written, fast paced and exciting to read.
Wall Street Wiz
As he did with High Steel, Mr Rasenberger weaves history, personal stories and factual details seamlessly together to make an engaging narrative.
Peter Kuper
As someone who knows a lot about this period in history-- early 20th century America-- I was blown away by this book.
NewYorkGirl

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

8 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Peter Kuper on November 23, 2007
Format: Hardcover
As he did with High Steel, Mr Rasenberger weaves history, personal stories and factual details seamlessly together to make an engaging narrative. With America 1908 he explores a cross section of seismic events that conspired to form our modern society.He has also included images from this time period that further illuminate the text.As he makes clear, Americans in 1908 thought a great deal about their future and all the possibilities of the world they would shape over the next hundred years.Masterfully researched and written, this book examines the America that was, and may help cast light on the America that has yet to unfold.
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18 of 23 people found the following review helpful By Rick Mitchell VINE VOICE on March 25, 2008
Format: Hardcover
This is a very readable history about a significant time in our history. However, 1908 was not the year the author would make it out to be. He squeezed and finessed to make 1908 a big year. Some of the subjects highlighted did occur in that year, others not so much and others were really not that significant.

First, the insignificant, those that are not that special to 1908. Yes, there was a great pennant race in the National League - there have been lots of them. Although 1908's was fluky, there have been many races that have come down to the last day. So also, TR was a popular president who did not run for re-election. That has also happened in other years. Scores of pages were devoted to both.

Then there are the things for which 1908 was just a step. Back to TR. There are pages about the last days in the White House for TR and his family and how depressing the last days of 1908 were for the family as they planned to leave. I think the author thought inauguration was in January. It was not back then. Taft was not inaugurated until March. The author also made a big deal about Peary going to the North Pole - he left in '08 but didn't claim to make it until the next year (his claim was later debunked but that is not in the book). Ford developed the Model T, but it didn't really take off in sales until mass production started in 1910 - a far more significant development than the car itself. Lastly, the Wright brothers first flew in 1905, although they made flight truly viable in 1908.

A last criticism before moving on to the plusses. THe book reminded me of the New Yorker magazine map of the US with Manhattan far larger than the rest of the country. The author must be a NYC-phile. The pennant race seemed to be significant because it was the Giants.
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11 of 14 people found the following review helpful By kkav on January 25, 2008
Format: Hardcover
Jim Rasenberger's "America, 1908" is a good read. Rasenberger skillfully blends narratives and details from an impressive list of other more comprehensive books about this important period in American history. While I have read several of the books Rasenberger cites in his source list, the idea of synthesizing all of these events into one book was a great idea.That's what caught my attention The only drawback of the book is Rasenberger's continual liberal comments sprinkled throughout. It's almost as if he didn't have the confidence that his creative idea was good enough. The comments are out of place and interrupt the flow of a otherwise very good story. I wish he had given the reader enough credit to realize that Teddy Roosevelt was a little odd or that Henry Ford was a little politically incorrect. The book could have stood on its own without the constant preaching and lamenting. Otherwise a good read...
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Lehigh History Student VINE VOICE on February 26, 2009
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
America 1908 is a wonderful look at a year that shaped the course of the 20th century for America and defined a generation leapfrogging technology in a way that would not be seen until the Second World War. Unlike many history of technology books this is really a social look at some of the great achievement of the year and focuses on not only technology, but politics and baseball as a way to address the social medium and change of the time. From the onset of progressivism to the Model T and advent of the airplane the year 1908 was filled with milestones. Baseball is a prominent feature in the book and the famed penut race of 1908 is detailed perfectly in here focusing on what happened in baseball after the first ball dropped from Times Square kicking off this whimsical and climatic year. Although new to Rasenberger as a historian I was favorably impressed by his analysis and careful thought in what to include on a book spanning multiple topics over 1 year. While many times these books can appear random this author does an excellent job of sticking to salient information and presenting clear correlations between his topics. I will say that while some events are not as important or as earth shattering as others they still make for interesting reading. Overall it's a great addition to history of technology and American social history and well worth a read.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Chris on October 3, 2008
Format: Hardcover
My advice to anyone planning to read "America 1908" is this: Read it for the information and the entertainment, but draw your own conclusions. The author tends to consider everything that happened in 1908 of the earth-shattering variety.

I'm glad I read the book because, historically, it's valuable. Rasenberger contends that 1908 was an unusually significantly year in U.S. history, and he proves it. During that year, the country boasted major developments in automobile availability and flight; it showed naval supremacy with the unprecedented Great White Fleet; there was a race riot in the home of Lincoln; one of the most popular presidents of all-time was in office; baseball made a leap toward becoming the national pastime. There was a whole lot going on.

Rasenberger may have exaggerated the significance of some events, which told me he felt the need to convince readers that 1908 was worth a full book. He also used some literary license, such as when he wrote that during his December 31 flight in France, Wilbur Wright undoubtedly thought about the year gone by. Why make an assumption like that?

The book is a fast read, it effectively brings the reader back to a different era, and the content is interesting. Despite some shortcomings, it's worth the read.
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