America Unabridged: The Readers Respond

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I very much enjoyed your fiftieth anniversary issue. Like any fan, I have my own additions to your all-time greatest team.

BIOGRAPHY

An Imperfect God , by Henry Wiencek (2003; Farrar, Straus and Giroux)

This is a brilliant, illuminating work wherein the reader discovers how George Washington’s perceptions of slavery evolved over time much in the way Abraham Lincoln’s did later. It gives the reader a greater appreciation of a great man.

Hawthorne in Concord , by Philip McFarland (2004; Grove Press) A beautifully written book that brings Hawthorne and transcendentalist New England to vivid life. The second-best biography I’ve ever read (the best is Dickens , by Peter Ackroyd).

HISTORICAL NOVELS

Where was The Red Badge of Courage , by Stephen Crane (1895)? It is all young men in all wars.

THE WEST

The Year of Decision: 1846 , by Bernard DeVoto (1942; Little, Brown) This masterpiece details the Mexican War, the Oregon Trail, the Mormons, and the Donner Party.

CIVIL WAR

Landscape Turned Red , by Stephen W. Sears (1983; Ticknor and Fields)

Quite simply, the best study of a single battle ever written. And what a battle!

MODERN TIMES

The Book of Mormon . A second testament of Jesus Christ, it is also a history of the ancient peoples of America. It’s a central scripture, along with the Bible, of a worldwide, rapidly expanding church of approximately 12 million.

Thanks for your time and your excellent magazine.