cover image America: The Story of Us

America: The Story of Us

Kevin Baker, A & E Television Networks (Perseus, dist.), $29.95 (415p) ISBN 9781422983430

Ever since its first settlers came for freedom and wealth, America has always boasted a rambunctious, idiosyncratic population. In this poppy illustrated history, historian Baker even-handedly reveals how we gained independence, acquired vast territory, and made monumental industrial and technological advances while overcoming tragedies of war, civil and labor unrest, economic depression, and other grand challenges. Baker doesn't shy away from the darker corners of American history, and the origins and expansion of the slave trade, brutality towards Native Americans, and exploitation of land for profit are all covered here. As produced by the A&E network, this is a glossy, highly-accessible survey of the great American experiment from 1497 to today, full of eye-catching photography, charts, maps, highlighted text, and historical documents (there's not a single page free of some graphic element). If every history text was as lively as America, everyone would know our story. Illus. (Sept.)