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Coming Up In American Heritage

March 2023
1min read

On the road again …

A year ago we published an issue devoted to travel. Unlike others who deal with the subject, we visited places both as they are and as they were—and in so doing suggested how the past informs the present everywhere in the country. Readers responded warmly enough to spur us to go back on the road this April. Among the journeys:

Unfolding the nation …

Wherever you’re driving, the one clear indispensable is the road map, and the country is so thoroughly charted with a red and blue web that one might think it had always been so. It wasn’t. The road map came along a good deal later than the automobile, and it was born in a series of guidebooks like the one put out in 1908 by the White Auto Company that included such directions as, “At the next corner turn left passing ‘Mike’s Place’…” and in which every destination was a branch of the White Company. Ben Yagoda traces the eventful career of the road map through the days when Rand McNally and the oil companies brought order to the motorist’s universe.

New Orleans …

Nicholas Lemann, a native son, explores just what made New Orleans so savory, seductive, and raffish a town—a place “too Latin to concern itself with sin and guilt,” where (as Republicans should note when they meet there in convention in August) nature is luxuriant and a little sinister, “and, even today, ultimately unconquerable,” and where all the myths are at least half true.

West Point…

To one historian, it is “a bit of Sparta in the midst of Babylon.” But for all its severe serenity, the United States Military Academy has had an uncommonly turbulent past. When the historian and novelist Thomas Fleming pays it a visit, he finds the place eloquent of treachery in the Revolution and bitter division as the Civil War neared, and still very much aware of the small cadre of graduates who at Chapultepec and Gettysburg, in the Meuse-Argonne and on the Normandy beaches, showed what they’d learned there on the Hudson.

Fast food …

You may like it or you may hate it, but once you get on the road, you’re going to be eating it. And it may be something of a consolation to look back on the history of the rise of McDonald’s and Colonel Sanders and their rivals and know that part of their success is due to an American genius for standardization that has substantially reduced the hazards of sitting down to a plate of food. Joseph Monninger details how an effort simply to hand out burgers quicker and cheaper changed the way Americans live.

Plus …

Wilbur and Orville Wright’s biographer tracks their footprints in the windy, shifting sands of Kitty Hawk … voyaging the Columbia River as we approach the two hundredth anniversary of its discovery … the last real prairie, and why it defines us as Americans … the California wine country … and, because our editorial offering is as bounteous as the land it celebrates, more.

We hope you enjoy our work.

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Stories published from "March 1988"

Authored by: Ivan E. Prall

You probably haven’t seen it, but it’s out by the tracks of the Chicago & North Western

Authored by: The Editors

The nation’s first subway system was launched here in 1897.

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A man who has spent his life helping transform old photos from agreeable curiosities into a vital historical tool explains their magical power to bring the past into the present

Authored by: Hiller B. Zobel

Every one of the Founding Fathers was a historian—a historian who believed that only history could protect us from tyranny and coercion. In their reactions to the long, bloody pageant of the English past, we can see mirrored the framers’ intent.

Authored by: Richard C. Ryder

It was discovered in New Jersey in 1858, was made into full-size copies sent as far away as Edinburgh, and had a violent run-in with Boss Tweed in 1871. Now, after fifty years out of view, the ugly brute can be seen in Philadelphia.

Authored by: Benjamin Franklin

Only one man would have had the wit, the audacity, and the self-confidence to make the case

Authored by: Walter Karp

The early critics of television predicted the new medium would make Americans passively obedient to the powers that be. But they badly underestimated us.

Authored by: Jack Rudolph

On their weathered stone battlements can
be read the whole history of the three-century
struggle for supremacy in the New World

Authored by: Daniel Aaron

George Templeton Strong was not a public man, and he is not widely known today. But for forty years he kept the best diary—in both historic and literary terms—ever written by an American.

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