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The Men Who United the States: America's…
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The Men Who United the States: America's Explorers, Inventors, Eccentrics,… (original 2013; edition 2014)

by Simon Winchester (Author)

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5211419,506 (3.72)30
Member:GeoffHabiger
Title:The Men Who United the States: America's Explorers, Inventors, Eccentrics, and Mavericks, and the Creation of One Nation, Indivisible
Authors:Simon Winchester (Author)
Info:Harper Perennial (2014), Edition: Reprint, 512 pages
Collections:Your library
Rating:***
Tags:non-fiction, history, United States, US history

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The Men Who United the States: America's Explorers, Inventors, Eccentrics and Mavericks, and the Creation of One Nation, Indivisible by Simon Winchester (2013)

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» See also 30 mentions

Showing 1-5 of 14 (next | show all)
I enjoyed the stories that were presented, but by spanning such a long period of time I felt that much of the impact that Mr. Winchester captures in his other books (Krakatoa, The Map that Changed the World, etc.) was diluted. The information presented was still exciting and fun to read, but I would have liked to have had more depth on narrower topics. ( )
  GeoffHabiger | Jun 13, 2018 |
Simon Winchester is one my of my very favorite authors. He wrote The Professor and the Mad Man,(a MUST read), A Crack in the Edge of the World, The Man Who Loved China, Krakatoa, Atlantic, The Alice Behind Wonderland, The River at the Center of the World, and The Meaning of Everything. I've read all but The River at the Center of the World and Atlantic. Therefore I expected a lot. He did not disappoint. While I think the Professor and the Mad Man is my favorite, it is hard to pick a second - but if I had to, I think this would be it. Trying to write about almost everything that went into creating the United States is a daunting task, but he organized the book into areas that made perfect sense, brilliantly told stories about each, and then neatly tied it all together in the Epilogue in an unforgettable way. If you want to know the history of the United States told in a unique and unforgettable fashion - this is clearly the book. I am also of big fan of David McCullough's Brave Companions, which is another fascinating look at American history, but Winchester's book is broader in scope and has man more intriguing stories. Highly recommend this book. ( )
  bjtimm | Nov 8, 2016 |
I caught so many errors and faults of research in the areas I knew something about that I simply could not trust the rest of this book. He writes well -- but has either outsourced his research or done it really really bad. This gets an F for untrustworthy.
  revliz | Jun 30, 2016 |
Interesting way to organize the development of the U.S., lovely details and anecdotes, great vocabulary. Lots of the author's own experiences blend with history. ( )
  Smoscoso | May 5, 2016 |
Simon Winchester's latest book, The Men Who United the States: America's Explorers, Inventors, Eccentrics and Mavericks, and the Creation of One Nation, Indivisible is definitely one of the best books (and not just nonfiction) I have read this year.

Think about it. As a country we (or our ancestors) were a hodge-podge of ethnic backgrounds, religions, and languages. America has had to make a union for itself and Winchester details beautifully some of the deliberate acts of Americans that have brought us together as one united country, beyond the national concept of ideals on which our country was founded and constitutionally guaranteed freedoms. He explains that this book is what might be called the "physiology and the physics of the country, the strands of connective tissue that have allowed it to achieve all it has, and yet to keep itself together while doing so."

For The Men Who United the States Winchester structured his book around the five so-called classical elements, Wood, Earth, Water, Fire, and Metal, rather than following a more traditional organizational format to explain how America became a united country.

Wood was a dominant feature of every early voyage across our country, so it is a fitting element to represent the first explorers and settlers. This section, naturally, follows the exploration of Lewis and Clark and to a lesser extent the settlers crossing the country.

Earth includes the land itself and all of the undiscovered wealth and awe found in America. I especially loved this chapter because it focuses on America's geology and the exploration of many of our unique national treasures. Winchester includes the ravels and exploration of Robert Owen, William Maclure, John Wesley Powell, Ferdinand Hayden (Yellowstone, including painter Thomas Moran and photographer William Henry Jackson)

Water is, naturally, representative of the first highways for early travelers and later for trade, and to generate power. Our rivers are unique in America and Winchester explains why and how the building of canals helped us for commerce and transportation. Even more uniting was the improvements made to local roads. (Interesting previously unknown facts: John McAdam created the macadamized road and then Edgar Hooley decided to spray tar on it creating tarmacadam, or tarmac, in America called blacktop )

Fire is indicative of engines and the ability they afforded us to travel across our country. Robert Fulton's steam engine created even swifter travel and people could begin to travel far distances in less time. "By 1870, the railroad industry had become the country’s second biggest employer, after agriculture. Soon the dominant railroad companies became the country’s biggest corporations..." A transcontinental railroad line changed the country and getting through the Sierras was an incredible feat. (After living in Reno, NV, for 5 years at 5500 feet, I loved Winchester's Donner Pass story.) Naturally the interstate highway system and cars made us an even more mobile society, but also helped unite us as a country.

Metal encompasses the wire cable used for the telegraph, telephone, electricity, but also includes radio, television and the internet. Once we started spreading phone lines and electric lines across the country, it totally changed the way we live. “Making a Neighborhood of a Nation,” said Southwestern Bell’s advertisements. Radio and TV became our entertainment - and also a huge money-making opportunity for businesses. Add to that the internet, which was conceived in America. (Joseph Licklider, Vint Cerf, and Robert Kahn, can fairly be said to have conceived and invented the basic structure of the modern Internet.)

Contents include
PART I: WHEN AMERICA’S STORY WAS DOMINATED BY WOOD, 1793–1805
A View across the Ridge; Drawing a Line in the Sand; Peering through the Trees; The Frontier and the Thesis; The Wood Was Become Grass; Encounters with the Sioux; First Lady of the Plains; High Plains Rafters; Passing the Gateway; Shoreline Passage
PART II: WHEN AMERICA’S STORY WENT BENEATH THE EARTH, 1809–1901
The Lasting Benefit of Harmony; The Science That Changed America; Drawing the Colors of Rocks; The Wellspring of Knowledge; The Tapestry of Underneath; Setting the Lures; Off to See the Elephant; The West, Revealed; The Singular First Adventure of Kapurats; The Men Who Gave Us Yellowstone; Diamonds, Sex, and Race
PART III: WHEN THE AMERICAN STORY TRAVELED BY WATER, 1803–1900
Journeys to the Fall Line; The Streams beyond the Hills; The Pivot and the Feather; The First Big Dig; The Wedded Waters of New York; The Linkmen Cometh; That Ol’ Man River
PART IV: WHEN THE AMERICAN STORY WAS FANNED BY FIRE, 1811–1956
May the Roads Rise Up; Rain, Steam, and Speed; The Annihilation of the In-Between; The Immortal Legacy of Crazy Judah; Colonel Eisenhower’s Epiphanic Expedition; The Colossus of Roads; And Then We Looked Up; The Twelve-Week Crossing
PART V: WHEN THE AMERICAN STORY WAS TOLD THROUGH METAL, 1835–TOMORROW
To Go, but Not to Move; The Man Who Tamed the Lightning; The Signal Power of Human Speech; With Power for One and All; Lighting the Corn, Powering the Prairie; The Talk of the Nation; Making Money from Air; Television: The Irresistible Force; The All of Some Knowledge EPILOGUE

What makes this history of the making of America special is that Winchester also traveled to many of the historical sites he mentions and includes anecdotes about his experiences. And I get it. I understand what Winchester, a new American citizen, is saying. I have lived many different places in this country and, while there are regional quirks, we really are one people thanks to many of the reason's Winchester highlights in his book.

The Men Who United the States includes many photographs, maps, illustrations, footnotes, a bibliography, and index - all things that please me greatly. I have greatly enjoyed every book I have read by Simon Winchester and The Men Who United the States is no exception. While is is not an exhaustive history textbook of every invention, item, or person that has contributed to making us a united people, it is an exceptionally well written account that points to some of the people, inventions, and actions that helped make us one country.

Very Highly Recommended - I will be getting a hardcover copy of this book, especially since I had an uncorrected advanced reading copy.

Disclosure: My Kindle edition was courtesy of HarperCollins via Edelweiss for review purposes.
( )
  SheTreadsSoftly | Mar 21, 2016 |
Showing 1-5 of 14 (next | show all)
Winchester is America in miniature: many talents, many loyalties and numerous, often contradictory opinions. He’s a bundle of contradictions. Little wonder he finally feels at home.
 

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Ljoenes, RichardCover designersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Epigraph
Think of the United States today - the facts of these thirty-eight or forty empires solder'd in one - sixty or seventy millions of equals, with their lives, their passions, their future - these incalculable, modern, American, seething multitudes around us, of which we are inseparable parts!
- Walt Whitman, A Backward Glance o'er Travell'd Roads (Preface to the 1898 edition of Leaves of Grass)
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(Preface) Early in the crisp small hours of November 7, 2012, a weary but exultant Barack Obama was thanking his countrymen for just handing him a second term as forty-fourth president of the United States.
Thomas Jefferson was a man with a lifelong fascination with trees.
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0062079603, Hardcover)

Simon Winchester, the acclaimed New York Times bestselling author of Atlantic and The Professor and the Madman, delivers his first book about America: a fascinating popular history that illuminates the men who toiled fearlessly to discover, connect, and bond the citizenry and geography of the U.S.A. from its beginnings.

How did America become “one nation, indivisible”? What unified a growing number of disparate states into the modern country we recognize today? To answer these questions, Winchester follows in the footsteps of America’s most essential explorers, thinkers, and innovators, such as Lewis and Clark and the leaders of the Great Surveys; the builders of the first transcontinental telegraph and the powerful civil engineer behind the Interstate Highway System. He treks vast swaths of territory, from Pittsburgh to Portland, Rochester to San Francisco, Seattle to Anchorage, introducing the fascinating people who played a pivotal role in creating today’s United States.

Throughout, he ponders whether the historic work of uniting the States has succeeded, and to what degree. Featuring 32 illustrations throughout the text, The Men Who United the States is a fresh look at the way in which the most powerful nation on earth came together.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:24:58 -0400)

Acclaimed New York Times bestselling author Winchester illuminates the men who toiled fearlessly to discover, connect, and bond the citizenry and geography of the U.S.A. from its beginnings and ponders whether the historic work of uniting the States has succeeded, and to what degree.… (more)

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