Simon Winchester, the acclaimed New York Times best-selling 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. The Men Who United the States is a fresh look at the way in which the most powerful nation on Earth came together.
©2013 Simon Winchester (P)2013 HarperCollinsPublishers
The combination of wonderful writing, author as narrator and a wide range of interesting stories is an unbeatable combination. Moreover, Winchester goes beyond the major historical stories we are all familiar with, and illuminates a wide range of other people and events that played a role in forming the United States.
Yes, there is so much interesting information contained in this book, that a second or third read wouldn't be out of the question, just for all of it to register.
The account of the Lewis and Clark expedition.
It's not that kind of book, although it's full of chuckles.
A little confused. I couldn't figure out his structure until the end. But he made a good story out of an enormous library of information. And he made it interesting, in bites you can follow. He colors some of his narrative with editorials parading as facts. This cheer leading got heavy handed and tiresome in the era and chapter on rural electrification and continued into the modern era and public television. Too bad. It detracts from an otherwise pleasant story. I've enjoyed two of this author's other books immensely. This one has its moments but is a little frustrating to read.
Husband, father, building contractor, inventor and audio book lover.
The characters are unknown to many and little remembered in history but one comes away with a deep appreciation of the greatness of our country and it's amazing people. Another great history of our of the USA from a different angle.
In the three years that I lived in Pittsburgh, no-one ever explained to me why the Brits found it necessary to build a fort there. Now I know. That is one of the many pieces of information that I gleaned from listening to "The Men". Simon Winchester has the command of the English language that you would expect from a first class story teller. He injects drama where he can, and comes at his suject matter from interesting angles. He explores the political, economic and social landscape. But above all, and this is his genius, he digs out the fascinating little-known stories and facts that enrich his presentation, at once giving credibility to his viewpoint and addressing his subject matter on a human scale. So, after listening to "The Men" I came away better informed, having filled in some gaping holes in my knowledge of American history, the result of a deprived childhood (I was educated in England). But I'm not sure I came away with a strong opinion for or against. This is because while Winchester makes no secret of his opinions, be they nostalgia for the past, concern for the environment or excitement for the future, there is no real consistent message coming out of this book. The title and the theme are an excuse for stringing together some fascinating insights and some really good stories, and a bit of travelog around the US. I enjoyed the book, as I knew I would because I alway enjoy his writing, but did I come away uplifted, on a new plane, ready to go out and spread the word ? Not so much.
I could listen to Simon Winchester read his grocery list, so I'm predisposed to like this book. My husband and I listened to him read his story about Krakatoa several years ago and it was wonderful. This book begins with the man charged with the task of measuring out -- by metes and bounds -- the entire western portion of the United States. Even that small story is wonderful. Winchester goes on to tell about the trailblazers of American history, from the Erie Canal to the railroads, the telegraph to the radio, and even up to the internet of today. We read this while on summer driving trips and found we could leave it at any time and pick it up later without missing a beat. It is fascinating and quirky. Just like Mr. Winchester himself.
Of course. Overall a great author.
I did find this book a bit disappointing in that Mr. Winchester seemed to let more of his own personal philosophy, politics and moral judgement leak into this book, a vanity of many authors of history he has up to now, to his credit, refused to indulge in.
I would rate this book among the better audio books that I have listened to.
I would recommend this audio book to someone who is interested in the general history of America as it follows mostly white adventurists on there adventures and shortcomings.
The author has a very good and clear voice and the performance was well laid out
Rather long book 12+ hours would not be something I would want to listen to in one sitting, day, etc
Delved deeply into subjects, Lewis and Clark for example and then some it just flittered thru the subject example Wounded Knee.
An interest look at the history of the US and those who contributed in many different ways. I regularly enjoy Winchester's book. Interesting that he has decided to become an American citizen.
Note - if you are not a fan of NPR and, instead, like Rush Limbaugh and others of the same mind and/or if you are a hunter, you may not enjoy this book quite so much.
Simon Winchester is a most eloquent writer and manages to fill in the gaps that connect our nation's history that are woefully overlooked in most collegiate courses. Not the first one of Simon's that I've read and have found each title to be brilliant and engaging. I've read fiction that had less compelling drama.
Any Simon Winchester book. He's in a class of his own.
Honestly, I wish this could be required reading in high school. I think kids (and adults) would be drawn to history and have a much better understanding of who we are as a nation. I cannot say enough good things about the content and delivery.
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