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Booknotes: Stories from American History Paperback – October 1, 2002

4.9 out of 5 stars 12 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

On C-SPAN's Booknotes, host Brian Lamb conducts in-depth, thoughtful (and sometimes plodding) author interviews. Transcripts of David McCullough, David Brooks, even David Crosby are free on the show's Web site, but polished essays based on the "excerpted and edited" interviews are gathered into a companion series, of which Booknotes: Stories from American History is the third installment. Divided into sections from "Revolution and Founding 1776-1815" to "The Culture Wars 1975-2000," the volume features Ben Bradlee on JFK and the Pentagon Papers, Gina Kolata on the 1918 flu pandemic and Witold Rybczynski on the making of Central Park.

Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information, Inc.

--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From School Library Journal

Adult/High School-This book covers different facets of U.S. history from the Boston Tea Party to Dan Rostenkowski's fall from power, with the greatest emphasis on 20th-century events. Historians and participants discuss the most important aspects and the telling details of the events that they have analyzed. Based on the interviews on the C-SPAN program Booknotes, these essays are not the scholarly pieces that make history seem dry and dusty. (Students will find no footnotes here.) Andrew Young describes Martin Luther King, Jr.'s decision to go to jail in Birmingham, AL, in support of the people who were already imprisoned because "there was nothing else to do." Jack Rakove describes the Virginia Plan that was used as the basis for the Constitution as something the Virginians and Pennsylvanians cooked up while they were "sitting around Philadelphia waiting for the other delegations to appear." Each entry is no more than 8 to 10 pages in length. The colorful details will make these events, both great and small, come to life for today's readers.
Jane S. Drabkin, Chinn Park Regional Library, Prince William, VA
Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 576 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin Books; Reprint edition (October 1, 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0142002496
  • ISBN-13: 978-0142002490
  • Product Dimensions: 6.1 x 1.2 x 8.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.6 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (12 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,296,700 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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More About the Author

Brian Lamb is the founder of C-SPAN and now serves as the C-SPAN Networks' Executive Chairman. Since C-SPAN's founding in 1979, Brian has been a regular on-camera presence, interviewing all presidents since Reagan and many world leaders, members of Congress, journalists, and authors. Over 15 years beginning in 1989, Brian interviewed 801 non-fiction authors for a weekly series called "Booknotes." Currently, Brian hosts "Q and A," a Sunday evening, hour-long interview program with people who are making things happen in the public sphere.

Six books of collected interviews have been published by PublicAffairs based on the "Booknotes" and "Q and A" series, the latest being "Sundays at Eight." And in 2010, PublicAffairs published "The Supreme Court," a collection of interviews Brian and C-SPAN colleague Susan Swain did with all eleven current and former Supreme Court justices.

Brian's work with C-SPAN has been recognized with the Presidential Medal of Honor and the National Humanities Medal. In 2011, Purdue University, Brian's alma mater, announced the naming of the Brian Lamb School of Communication.

Brian is a longtime resident of Arlington, VA. When he's not devouring newspapers, websites, or nonfiction books, or eating Thai food at his favorite local restaurant, Brian is likely in hot pursuit of the latest country music release

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
I was watching the Don Imus Radio Program "Imus In the Morning" when he recommended to his listeners this book edited by Brian Lamb, the founder and current executive of C-SPAN. After hearing numerous recommendations from other viewers and notables on the Imus program, I decided to purchase the book myself and see if it was as good as others said it was. I was not disappointed in the least.
The book is in overview exerpts of interviews of notable historians and other personalities who have written a book about a historical figure or event and was on the C-SPAN show "Booknotes" to talk about the book they have written. Such authors as James McPherson, the excellent Civil War Historian to NBC News Anchorman Tom Brokaw who talked about the World War II generation. The book starts with the American Revolution and ends with the year 2000. Each chapter is a brief overview of what the historians/authors on C-SPAN said during the show that they appeared and it is interesting and to the point.
The chapters are short 5 to 8 pages at the most, but they keep the reader's interest throughout. There is an introduction at the beginning of each chapter that tells the date that the historian/author appeared on Booknotes and what the name of the book was that they have written.
Each chapter is interesting and dare I say "fun" to read. From the founding of America, to the Civil War, to current day is fascinating reading. Such notable figures as U.S. Grant, J.P. Morgan, John F. Kennedy and so many others are discussed as well. From historical acts to controversy, this book has them all.
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Format: Hardcover
What we have here are 79 condensations of one-hour interviews of eminent historians previously conducted by Lamb, founding CEO and host of the the C-SPAN "Booknotes" television series. ("My interview questions are omitted so that readers can focus on the author's words.") It is important to keep in mind that these are, literally, "stories from American history" rather than traditional academic briefs. That is to say, they are not dull and dry. On the contrary, their format, tone, and style are casual but at no time careless. Credit Lamb and his associates for a first-rate job of editing the material. Those interviewed are erudite raconteurs. Lamb organizes the essays within nine parts: Revolution and Founding (1776-1815), The Young Nation (1815-1850), Slavery and the Civil War (1850-1865), Rebuilding America and the Guided Age ((1865-1901), Progressive Era and Reaction (1901-1929), Depression and War (1929-1945), Early Cold War (1945-1957), Social Transformation (1957-1975), and The Culture Wars (1975-2000). I am especially grateful to Lamb for his headnotes for each chapter. Here is how he introduces Joyce Appleby and her comments on "The First Generation of Americans":
"The census of 1800 reported 1.1 million people living in the United States -- more than twice the number in the colonies at the beginning of the American Revolution. There were four cities with a population greater than 10,000 -- Baltimore, Boston, Philadelphia, and New York. Half of the population was under sixteen years of age. On June 18, 2000, Joyce Appleby, a U.C.L.A. professor and author of Inheriting the Revolution: The First Generation of Americans, published in 2000 by Belnap Press, appeared on Booknotes to tell us about this era and how this `first generation' helped shape the young nation.
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Format: Hardcover
Finally, the perfect gift for people who wished they paid more attention in high school history class.
Brian Lamb, the host of the long running C-SPAN author interview program, Booknotes, has edited interviews with more than 80 historians, writers, journalists and politicians on the great and small events that have shaped American history. Lamb's original interview questions have been omitted, allowing the author to conversationally describe each event with the passion that is generated only a person who loves his or her work.
Among my favorite tales recounted is Robert Frost's reading of "The Gift Outright" at the Presidential Inauguration of John F. Kennedy as told by Jay Parini. President Kennedy, the Middlebury College professor tells us, initially resisted Stewart Udell's attempts to include 86 year old poet fearing he would steal the show. Events would prove him right.
Another favorite is James M. Perry, the long-time political reporter for The Wall Street Journal, discussing Civil War Correspondents. The demand for timely and accurate dispatches from the front lines transformed American Journalism and provided the antecedents for today's personality-driven electronic Journalism.
So if you are sorry you slept through American history class, or if you loved it as much as I did, here is a book for you - an engaging compendium that will provide hours of interesting readings.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
If you've ever read any of the BOOKNOTES series by C-SPAN host, Brain Lamb, you already know their value. I personally find this volume, STORIES FROM AMERICAN HISTORY, to be the best of them all. As with all of Lamb's books, the list of contributing writers reads like a Hall of Fame roster.

This volume is divided into nine different time periods. Each one covers not just historic and political events, but also offers pieces on social events, biographic profiles and more. For example, in the chapter on the Gilded Age, you will find an essay on the building of Central Park, the first Transcontinental Railroad, the political career of Grover Cleveland, historian H. W. Brands on the events of the 1890's, a look at William Randolph Hearst and the rise of "yellow journalism" (so named for Hearst's introduction of one of the first colorized print cartoons, "The Yellow Kid"), and concludes with an essay on J.P. Morgan and the banking industry.

This is a wonderful addition to your library and critical for home-schoolers. The writing is superb and unbiased, allowing the reader to form their own conclusions to events of American History. This volume concludes with 23 pages of a complete list of C-SPAN Booknotes, where you are sure to find more to add to your reading list.

Monty Rainey

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