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VINE VOICEon May 21, 2003
Caroline Kennedy puts together a fantastic collection of American works of literature in one book. She includes a comprehensive and diverse collection, including the early and most obvious works, such as Francis Scott Keyes' Star-spangled Banner to the Grateful Dead song titled "U.S. Blues," written in 1973.
Americans can brush up on, or remember songs and poems they used to know when they were younger, as well as read a multitude of new ones for the first time. American Literature and History students will find this collection of hundreds of works, worth getting and keeping. Here is a following example of some of the quintessentially American 13 chapters of categories such as: Visions of America, Portraits of Americans, The Rule of Law, The Individual, The Right To Be Left Alone, Equality, Freedom Of Speech And Press, and the lengthiest, titled "Work, Opportunity And Invention."
We can be reminded of Emerson, Faulkner, W.E.B. DuBois, Robert Frost, Thomas Paine, Melville, Patrick Henry, and Henry David Thoreau, which are brilliant and timeless works that make up who and what we are today.
But the inclusion of many pieces that we've never been exposed to is what makes "Patriot's Handbook" rise above. There are excerpts from famous, and not-so-well known speeches, and a number of significant Supreme Court Cases. For example: "Songs of the Sacred Mysteries, Sioux, 1869, "The Marine's Song," 1891, "Take Me Out To The Ball Game," 1908, Frontiero vs. Richardson 411 U.S. 677 (1973), "Blowin' In The Wind," Bob Dylan, "Marbury Vs. Madison," 1803 to Andy Warhol's "Popism."
Great as this is, the release of the book is about timing. I stand behind my other comment. The inclusion of Bill Clinton's speech on a controversial issue as well as a speech by Hillary Rodham Clinton reminds us of current political perspectives, whether we agree or disagree with them. With the comprehensiveness and diversity here, this book will be popular for a long time.
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on May 7, 2003
Caroline Kennedy has carefully assembled a thoughtful collection in order to help Americans define the many facets of patriotism and understand the concrete message that is laced with emotional grounding.
It prompts us all to examine not only what we believe but why we believe it. She reminds us that patriotism is not always peaceful or unified -- sometimes it springs from one, singular voice, such as that of Thoreau.
My only criticism stems from speeches from the political arena. If I were assured that President Regan wrote these words, stirred by his emotions, then I would have no problems. Political speeches for this generation of patriots are written by others and fed to our political leaders. We live in an age we don't really know what they believe, what they are capable of writing, whether the speech is for us -- or for them. Therefore, this collection may be compromised in that the very words we admire really spring from the heart of an unknown speechwriter.
If nothing else, patriotism is credible emotion that leads us to do the right thing and not blindly follow. Ms. Kennedy reminds us that we cannot really "teach patriotism." It must come from both example and passion.
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on May 9, 2003
I thought I might impose upon your time to tell you what I think about this subject and this book.
I found "A Patriot's Handbook" to be a good idea by an author, Caroline Kennedy, who is obviously moved by, and concerned about, the state of mind of many people in America today. It wants to answer the question, "what is an American, anyway?". A vast number of people who are supposedly Americans, call themselves Americans, not because of what they feel for and know about America, but merely because they are physically deposited here and make their money here. This book is great to either learn from, or refer to, depending upon where your level of knowledge fits into the picture. I highly recommend it to everyone. And, if you're really interested in the subject of this book, I believe you would also be interested in Bennett's "Book Of Virtues" and Remick's "West Point: Character Leadership Education", two books that, like Caroline Kennedy's, contain the similar features of stories, poems, and historical/philosophical anecdotes, Bennett's being topically organized like Kennedy's, and Remick's being organized into a story. I recommend both of these books in addition to Caroline Kennedy's book.
Thankyou for reading what I have to say.
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I absolutely loved reading this book. It is filled with excellent speeches, poems, stories, and songs. This book is divided into interesting sections like The Flag, Equality, Freedom, War and Peace, and The Individual. There are excerpts from famous books included here like To Kill A Mockingbird, The Grapes of Wrath, and Huckleberry Finn. Just reading these excerpts made me take a few of these books off my shelf again.
One of my favorite speeches in this book is entitled Can A Woman Ever Be President of the United States. It was given in 1935 by First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt. She talked in the speech about why she felt a woman would make a good President and the qualities that would make a woman a good leader. In the speech Roosevelt believed that women are more capable of attending to detail and better at adjusting to different surroundings than men. There is a wonderful speech given by Hillary Rodham Clinton in Beijing China about inequality and the physical and psychological violations women in China endure This is a very powerful speech that urges a need for change and a willingness for all people to work together so that every woman can reach their full potential in life. I also loved Teddy Roosevelt's 1899 speech called The Strenuous Life in which he told the American people to work hard and not be afraid to endure hardship in order to make their dreams come true. Martin Luther's I Have a Dream speech about racial equality and social justice from 1963 is included in this book. I appreciated reading this speech, because I never heard the entire speech before or understood the significance until now.
I loved the story of Senator John McCain who was a prisoner of war in Vietnam. He remained hopeful and optimistic of his release sinply by reciting the Pledge of Allegiance everyday. I loved the statement Edward Kennedy gave in support of the Americans with Disabilities Act in 1990, because as a disabled person I can appreciate how much progress our country has made in leveling the playing field with persons for disabilities in all areas of life.
I loved the speech by Arnold Schwarzengger entitled The Education Of An American as he talked about how he became a successful movie star. Arnold now has a new mission in life promoting fitness and sports programs in schools.
There are lyrics of popular songs like Born In The USA, Surfing USA and God Bless the USA which all celebrate a sense of pride in the United States. There are other songs like Big Yellow Taxi and Blowing in the Wind. These songs are about how fast change takes place in this country.
There are many descriptive and insightful poems in this book. One of my favorites is Let America Be America Again by Langston Hughes. It is a wonderful poem about the dream of racial equality in America. The Road Not Taken is a great poem by Robert Frost about following your own path in life.
This is a wonderful book for anyone interested in learning more about American history or culture. I enjoyed it very much.
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on October 5, 2003
Caroline Kennedy has done an outstanding job in editing A Patriot's Handbook. It is a truly wonderful book that I believe should be kept in every American household.

As we learn our American History we are exposed to many poems, songs and historical documents that have been truly significant in the course of our country's growth and development. Yet, if we were asked to cite them quickly, some of us would be hard pressed to do so. In A Patriot's Handbook, Kennedy provides us with a refresher course in our country's history through the words of original foundational documents.

A Patriot's Handbook includes pieces such as the Star Spangled Banner, The Pledge of Allegiance, The U.S. Constitution and the Declaration of Independence. Yet, far beyond this, it provides a broad range of presidential inaugural addresses and the farewell addresses of yet others. It includes significant precedent setting legal cases, the personal writings of a number of prominent American citizens throughout our history, and a number of treasured drawings, photographs and poems. The book represents the history of America's founding and its growth over more than two and a quarter centuries.

I appreciate Kennedy's inclusion of the writings of a wide variety of people - from historians, to famous novelists, to contemporary songwriters, poets and photographers. Each inclusion shares in adequately conveying the complex and wonderful tapestry that are our nation's people.

In her Introduction, Caroline Kennedy speaks about developing this project after thinking about stories of America that she wanted her own children to know. From that perspective she has gathered a wonderful collection that I believe can be appreciated and savored by all Americans.

A rich resource and a wonderful way to learn more about our own country's rich history.

Highly recommended.

Daniel J. Maloney
Saint Paul, Minnesota USA
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on June 5, 2003
My family and I love this book. We recieved it yesterday, and of course we haven't read it from cover to cover, but none of us can put it down. Every spare minute I have, I keep picking it up and flipping through it, reading one article at a time. It's a priceless reference book (including The Constution, Bill of Rights, and many landmark Supreme Court decisions) and a scrapbook (including songs and poems that we all know and love.)
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on June 13, 2003
Caroline Kennedy's collage of poems, stories and speeches celebrating America will appeal to any patriotic sentiment: it features archival recordings selected by Kennedy of Neal Armstrong, Robert and John Kennedy, Martin Luther King Jr, and others who have made an impact on America. Many are from archives; others are read by famous narrators such as Edward Kennedy and James Earl Jones. An exceptional collection.
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on July 8, 2003
I first heard about this book after Caroline Kennedy was interviewed. Being that it was the week before the 4th of July made me think that it would be a nice book to have around for the holiday weekend.
I would consider myself a would-be patriot. My intention is to always be proud of our countries history. It's just hard when you have gaps in your knowledge of the little things that shaped our country. Democracy is such a grand experiment that we take for granted that we are all part of it's evolution each and every day. This book reminds us of the major and inspirational steps in our growing process.
The collection is seperated into categories. The first one is Flag and contains poems, stories, and US Supreme Court cases involving our national flag. It's one thing to know the first stanza of the Star Spangled Banner and sing it at baseball games but how many people can recite the entire thing or even know that there is more to it.
The flow of the book makes it easy to read a little at a time. You'll find yourself picking it up and read a couple of pages. History can be so stoic but in this format, it is alive with the men and woman who came before us.
I highly recommend this book to anyone who is searching to learn or remember what being an American really means.
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Caroline Kennedy has written a book that portrays her vision of the land that she loves. She considers this her Patriot's Handbook,and the title was chosen by her daughter, Tatiana. This is a book that belongs in everybody's book collection. Not just out on the coffee table, but in a place that every member of the family can reach out and read a few paragraphs whenever they feel the need.
This is a very large book, 646 pages of poems, songs, essays, writings, The Declaration of Independence, the Salute to The Flag, pictures, everything and anything that means or speaks of America.
I was astonished at the collection. At first glance, you would think this book would have little bits and pieces of what America means. But, oh no, this includes everything. Caroline Kennedy in her opening chapter tells us this is her interpretation of Patriotism and what was handed down by her family. There is nothing missing! I am most impressed with this book, and I will give it often as a gift.
The book is separated into 12 chapters. A selection of the chapters I liked the most follows:
The Flag: contains the words to the "Star Spangled Banner", Pledge of Allegiance, US Blues by the Grateful Dead, "The Mike Christian Story" by John McCain and other collections of flag memories.
Visions of America: Several essays by Presidents, poem by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, Ronald Regan's farewell address and other memories of how America has changed.
Portraits of Americans: "The Picture of Dorian Gray" by Oscar Wilde, "Take Me Out To The Ballgame" by Albert Von Tilzer, "The Story of a Novel", by Tom Wolfe, Bush vs Gore-531 US 09 (2000) and other memories of famous Americans.
Freedom: "The Declaration of Independence" by Thomas Jefferson, "Freedom" by E.B. White, "I've Got The Light Of Freedom", by Pete Seeger and other memories of freedon.
Equality: "Letter to John Adams," by Abigal Adams, "Brown vs. Board of Education,(1954), "Feminine Mystique: by Betty Friedan and other memories of equality.
The Individual: "Self Reliance" by Ralph Waldo Emerson, "Walden" by Henry David Thoreau, "Imn Search of Our Mohter's Gardens," by Alice Walker and other memories of strong individuals.
Work, Opportunity and Invention: "I Hear America Singing," by Walt Whitman, "The Jungle" by Upton Sinclair, "Brother Can You Spare A Dime," by EY Harburg, Richard Nixon and Nikita Krushchev, "The Kitchen Debate"(1959), " King Leer" by Groucho Marx, "The Joy Luck Club" by Amy Tan, Bill Gates on "Capitalizing on the 'Cognitive Niche', "Surfin'USA" by Chuck Berry and Brian Wilson, Joan Didion, "Los Angeles Notebook", "Big Yellow Taxi" by Joni Mitchell ande many, many other memories of work, opportunity and invention .
This book is a marvel. Everytime I open it, I find another page that amazes me. Patriotism is "the IN thing" now, it seems, but reading and viewing this book, helps me to understand how lucky we are, indeed, to be American.
Let me quote Alexis De Tocqueville, in "Democracy in America",
"How does it happen that in the United States, that everyone takes an interest in the affairs of his township, his county and his whole state? It is becasue everyone takes an active part in the government of society..."
Wonderful book, by a great American, Caroline Kennedy- prisrob
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on May 11, 2003
Post 9/11, the Bush administration and allies have brought forth the assumption any questioning of their objectives is tantamount to treason against the country itself. Consequently, patrotism has become twisted to suggest support and compliance with the policy goals.
The equally famous daughter of the 35th president, Kennedy has ample ground to make a political platform within this book. To her credit, she does not, instead reaching beyond the core group of people sharing her own political ideologies, in a time when this principle is all but forgotten by all political players. Whether you fully agree with a fellow American, you can learn from their ideas (and vice versa) if only willing to open your heart and mind.
The reprint nature of the material within this book means people do not neccesarily learn Ms. Kennedy's own policy positions (although she may eventually run for office herself) but we are also spared the cloyingly simplistic view of flawless leaders too often bundled into political inspiration books, especially in these trying times.
For a generation that has too often heard the word 'patriot' used as a divisive political tool to root out difference, this book was a refreshing antidote.
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