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In Search of America Hardcover – Illustrated, September 3, 2002

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Anchorman Jennings and television producer Brewster illuminate contemporary American society with six stories, set in six different locations, examining central themes of American life: race, government, business, immigration, religion and culture. Each section is buttressed by thematically related sidebars and full-color illustrations. The battle in a South Carolina town to have creationism added to the public school biology curriculum is viewed in the context of the ongoing struggle between religion and science in America, and the chapter is supplemented by a discussion of the Scopes trial, the often overlooked complexity of Thomas Jefferson's ideas on religion and state and a look at the battle over textbooks in Texas. Another chapter focuses on attempts to revive the downtown of predominantly black Gary, Ind., thus highlighting the role of race in America. A look at Frito-Lay's efforts to market potato chips around the world underscores the role of business in America and its attempt to spread "the gospel of the free market" to undeveloped countries. The presentation is highly polished, and the authors report nonjudgmentally on various points of view in each controversy. But the authors do reach an optimistic conclusion that, indeed, the principles laid down by the founders 225 years ago "still form the essence of the American identity." (One-day laydown Sept. 3) Forecast: Major ABC promotion, a $500,000 national print ad campaign and the airing of the multipart TV program of the same title September 3-9, as well as the Jennings name, will make this a bestseller like the authors' last collaboration, The Century.
Copyright 2002 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From Library Journal

In this companion to an ABC series that aired in September, authors Jennings and Brewster, who teamed up so successfully to write The Century and The Century for Young People, take the reader on a journey through contemporary America. Examining challenges to the nation's founding ideals, they focus on six cases from widely scattered locations, first as a contemporary problem and then in historical context. In South Carolina the creation vs. evolution debate becomes a discussion of the separation of church and state. A conference in Washington, DC, becomes a stage for the perennial argument between a strong federal government and states' rights. Gary, IN, is a city that reminds us of the inequality that still exists among the races. In Plano, TX, modern business practices are juxtaposed against early American entrepreneurs. In Boulder, CO, a high school production of the musical Hair provides a backdrop for a look at popular culture and Americans' methods of raising their children. Finally, Salt Lake City is the setting for America's historical stand on immigration and its effect on our population. With a number of sidebars, this journalistic account raises thought-provoking questions. The authors believe that the Founding Fathers' structure has endured and that it will serve us well in the future. Recommended for most public libraries.
Grant A. Fredericksen, Illinois Prairie Dist. P.L., Metamora
Copyright 2002 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 307 pages
  • Publisher: Hyperion; 1 edition (January 1, 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0786867086
  • ISBN-13: 978-0786867080
  • Product Dimensions: 10.6 x 9.4 x 1.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 3.7 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #238,181 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Todd Brewster is an American author, journalist, and film producer.
Brewster served as Senior Editorial Producer for ABC News and co-authored three books with the late Peter Jennings: The Century, The Century for Young People, and In Search of America. The Century, a 600-page book on the history of the twentieth century, was originally designed as a companion book for ABC's 1999 documentary series of the same name, but months before the series debuted, the book had already topped the New York Times Best Seller List. It remained near the top of the list for nearly a year and is believed to have sold more than 1.5 million copies, more than any "companion book" in publishing history.
From 2004-2005, Brewster served as a Knight Fellow at Yale Law School and from 2005 to 2006 as Distinguished Visiting Professor of Government at Wesleyan University. He has written extensively on constitutional issues and is the Director of the National Constitution Center's The Peter Jennings Project for Journalists and the Constitution. Brewster has written for Vanity Fair, Time, The New York Times and Life, where he was a senior editor from 1988 to 1992. A native of Indianapolis Indiana, he was inducted into the Indiana Journalism Hall of Fame in 2000. From 2008 to 2013, Brewster was the Don E. Ackerman Director of Oral History at West Point. He was also director of United States Military Academy's West Point Center for Oral History. He was Executive Producer of Into Harm's Way, a 2013 documentary film about the West Point Class of 1967.

Customer Reviews

3.8 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

41 of 45 people found the following review helpful By Barron Laycock HALL OF FAME on September 12, 2002
Format: Hardcover
This book, like its best selling predecessor also written by Jennings and Todd Brewster about the over-riding nature of the events of the 20h century, is a very well researched and immensely entertaining look at America and its inhabitants. Although obviously designed for popular culture and prominent display on coffee tables across the land, it is indeed a compelling collection of disparate elements weaving a patchwork quilt glimpse at the pluralistic nature of our society and our people.
This book also capitalizes on the impressive range of data collected by ABC-TV in preparation for their superb "In Search Of America" series of televised documentaries, and the book therefore has a virtual cornucopia of offering for the reader to use in coming to appreciate the dynamic diversity that is such a celebrated aspect of American life. Whether investigating civic arguments about the separation of church and state or existential concerns of Latinos in the land of the Mormons, the reader can find an almost endless variety of facts, anecdotes, and examples of all that we have cause to find pride in as American citizens.
In essence, the book represents an absorbing attempt by Jennings and Brewster to explore the stated national ideals they believe are the defining and driving forces for our culture. And the work they have accomplished in delivering this vision of contemporary America is an impressive display of how to usefully employ eyewitness anecdotes with elements of contemporary history in service to a lavishly produced and excellently articulated narrative about the current state of the polity and the society at large.
In times of such turmoil and emotional distress, it is wonderful to have such a glowing look at our collective enterprise as is offered here.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Betty Burks on October 17, 2004
Format: Hardcover
Since this is one of those special over-size books, I was expecting just a beautiful keepsake, a coffee table item. Its glossy exterior gives that impression. And yet the in-depth stories are chock full of historical facts and modern happenings as a result of what had happened before.

The "Boulder" feature held my interest as it is steeped full of music history. Even used a bit of political humor as background. John Adams, the 'voice of self-control' in 1787, as the Constitution was drafted was used as an example. His sense of happiness came from benevolelnt qualities and 'virtue'; he was concerned about the high percentage of the population back then who were succumbing to alcohol intoxication, extravagance, vice (gambling?) amd folly. I had thought that was just the way of life those folks had to show they were 'somebody.' He pushed for more government control to stem this corruption. Washington and Jefferson, on the other hand, espoused the consumption of wines. Today, drugs are considered worse than that national "disease."

The early American humor included making fun of backwoodsmen (like Davy Crockett and Daniel Boone), the minstrel shows (black-face) and the Yankee. In the South, we still feel that way sometimes about the latter.

In 1904, the Yankee Doodle Dandy performed by George Cohan on Broadway led the way in the first 'truly American' musical, LITTLE JOHNNY JONES. James Cagney portrayed him in the movie named after the song.

There is interesting information about how "You're A Grand Old Rag" was changed to the classic, 'You're A Grand Old Flag.' His inspiration was by a chance-remark he had overheard by a Civil War veteran who survived Pickett's Charge at Gettysburg.
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By Blake McDonald on July 13, 2014
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I love this book. I have a copy in long-term storage, but I wanted to buy a second hand copy so I could read it while I'm living in Serbia. Great book! It's inspired my fiancee and I to take a road trip across America.
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