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Publisher's Summary

There has never been a history of America like Harold Evans's long-awaited They Made America. With the verve and cogency that made his American Century an acclaimed best seller, Evans tells the epic story of the men and women who made America over two centuries.

The workshop revolutionaries who made our world have never had the attention afforded the political revolutionaries who founded this nation. But it has been these innovators, in small-town attics and on the Mississippi, in Silicon Valley and the wheat fields of Kansas, in a black woman's beauty parlor and a Dayton bicycle shop, who set America on a course to attain a standard of living unprecedented in the history of the world.

The flourishing of America is the story of an inventive people with a mystic faith in technology, from the early settlers who devised windmills as a way of getting water on the Great Plains to the electronic whiz kids of the Internet. Innovation, practical inventiveness, is the main force behind America's preeminence. But there is more to this extraordinary history. Harold Evans traces how the innovators have time and time again proved to be democratizers, driven not by greed but by an ambition to be remembered. They translated the nation's political ideals into economic reality.

Yet many of these heroic contributors have been lost to history. Who fought and fought to make banking available to the common people? Who opened the world of international air travel to the masses? Whose Internet triumph was based on egalitarian ideals? Who put cheap electricity into everyone's homes, and was pursued as a fugitive? Who gave everyman high-quality sound, and was driven to suicide?

They Made America is eminently practical; but more than anything, it is history to inspire.

©2004 Harold Evans Associates LLC; (P)2004 Time Warner AudioBooks

Critic Reviews

  • Audie Award Finalist, Non-Fiction (abridged), 2005

"Absorbing....A compellingly written...reminder of how much we in 2005 owe to some determined, risk-taking forebears." (The New York Times Book Review)
"Evans's...elegantly written book offers the same breadth and scope as his previous best seller, The American Century....Evans doesn't neglect the latest generation of innovators....[An] exciting survey." (Publishers Weekly)

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  • Overall
  • Jim
  • Roby, MO, USA
  • 01-02-05

Wait for the Unabridged audiobook.

Wait for the Unabridged version because most of the really good stuff was left out when this book was abridged. Unbelievably the Wrighte Brothers, google, Bill Gates, Steve Jobs were left out, and Barbie was left in.. This is a great book! I have the hardback version and I have been enjoying it immensly. I have low vision and even with the screen reader reading is sloww going. I like to use the audio book to keep me going but this abridged version was so badly cut up it was frustrating.

17 of 18 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Scott
  • williamsburg, VA, USA
  • 12-31-04

Great Stories Well Told

This is the best book yet if you enjoy being inspired by stories of innovation and invention. An amazing walk through history, Evan's writing offers great insight into the genius and 'can do' smarts of these American icons. I especially enjoy the personal details that reveal the type of character that could take these inventions beyond tinkering to have a lasting effect on all of us. Just the right amount of information too. Hearing it in the author's voice makes it all the better, as he gets the emphasis right and his style is to move swiftly through the details and punctuate the brilliance of each story. It's great listening. I think my iPod toting teenagers will enjoy it too.

4 of 4 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • J. Walsh
  • Alexandria, VA United States
  • 02-08-05

Liked it, even abridged

As an entrepreneur, I appreciate stories of those who have gone before me to create new markets despite adversity. The author presents an interesting perspective on American entrepreneurs and narrates a compelling set of stories.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Paul
  • oakland, NJ, USA
  • 01-10-05

Well Narrated, a lite and quick read

I enjoyed this book, and was very happy with the narrator. Obviously if you want great, in-depth detail on the various innovators you are going to need to do considerably more reading than this book can provide. But as quick overview with a nicely diverse group of people presented, it worked. My Compliments.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Thomas
  • 12-18-04


Terrible, superficial summaries of the lives of these "innovators." Clearly, the autor adnires their business sense over their inventiveness. The summaries of their lives suffer a bit (I'd guess) from the abridgement, but seemingly the author rarely goes below the surface of the details of their lives. There is little insight here into the inner lives of the innovators. Worst, the reading is often slurred and difficult to follow. If I didn't know better, I'd guess that the author/ reader was intoxicated during some portions of the reading!

11 of 18 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • bellevue, WA, United States
  • 03-03-11

I was duped

If you are looking for a book that does not dilute your belief in the almost-limitless potential of human beings; if you are looking for a book that admires all that our species has accomplished in the past 200 years; if your primary motive for reading this book is to reaffirm your trust in your own possibilities, then this is not the book for you.

  • Overall


Fascinating--who knew? This should be a class room standard.

  • Overall
  • Arthur
  • St. Louis, MO, USA
  • 01-03-05

Good historical commentary

This book is very well done. Its covers the broader details of many great Americans. To have an in-depth study of so many people would require 70+ hours of audio. It piqued my interest in a number of people I had never known anything about before this.

A very good short study of some great accomplishments.