A Little History of the United States James West Davidson

Little Histories
Publication date:
06 Sep 2016
Yale University Press
344 pages: 216 x 140mm
11 maps + 40 b-w illus.
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A fast-paced, character-filled history that brings the unique American saga to life for readers of all ages

How did a land and people of such immense diversity come together under a banner of freedom and equality to form one of the most remarkable nations in the world? Everyone from young adults to grandparents will be fascinated by the answers uncovered in James West Davidson’s vividly told A Little History of the United States. In 300 fast-moving pages, Davidson guides his readers through 500 years, from the first contact between the two halves of the world to the rise of America as a superpower in an era of atomic perils and diminishing resources.
In short, vivid chapters the book brings to life hundreds of individuals whose stories are part of the larger American story. Pilgrim William Bradford stumbles into an Indian deer trap on his first day in America; Harriet Tubman lets loose a pair of chickens to divert attention from escaping slaves; the toddler Andrew Carnegie, later an ambitious industrial magnate, gobbles his oatmeal with a spoon in each hand. Such stories are riveting in themselves, but they also spark larger questions to ponder about freedom, equality, and unity in the context of a nation that is, and always has been, remarkably divided and diverse.

James West Davidson, a widely respected historian, has written on American history and the detective work that goes into it, as well as books about the outdoors. He lives in Rhinebeck, NY.

"Davidson has written a work that should lead readers to reflect anew on America’s past and present . . . We can all use not just a good refresher course on American history, but also some good historical thinking on how we might better realize freedom, equality, and E pluribus unum."—The Daily Beast

"Davidson . . . opens this smooth overview of 500 years of American history, beginning with Columbus’s arrival, with an engaging premise, arguing that we all make our own history pieced together out of personal memories, which in turn become the warp and weft of the cloth of history."—Publishers Weekly

"This attractive, eminently readable account covers the United States, from founding times to the current day . . . Seldom has this story been told from such an approachable viewpoint. Students will flock to the book."—Library Journal

"As a very readable rattle through the basic facts of a remarkable story this Little History is hard to beat."—Roger Cox, Scotsman

"This is a little history with a big heart, meant to be savored more than studied, read out loud like poetry, or perhaps sung like a hymn."—Joseph J. Ellis, author of Founding Brothers

"With imagination, verve and stylishness, James Davidson distills American history into its compelling essence. For newcomers to the subject, an incomparable primer; for veterans, the familiar made fresh with judicious insight."—H. W. Brands, University of Texas at Austin

"A book of literary grace and narrative invention. Not only the writing but also the conceptualization consistently engage the reader. Uncommonly imaginative."—Christine Heyrman, author of Southern Cross and American Apostles

"A persuasive and enjoyable read. Davidson faced a herculean task in condensing more than five hundred years of history into a slim volume. He fulfills this difficult brief with authority and brio."—Richard Aldous, author of Reagan and Thatcher: The Difficult Relationship

"It has a little of Zinn, a little of Lies My Teacher Told Me, and a little of History of US. I found it readable, interesting, and useful."—Sandy Foster, U.S. history teacher, The Harley School