Mystic Chords of Memory
"Illustrated with hundreds of well-chosen anecdotes and minute observations . . . Kammen is a demon researcher who seems to have mined his nuggets from the entire corpus of American cultural history. . . . Insightful and sardonic." Washington Post Book World
In this groundbreaking, panoramic work of American cultural history, the Pulitzer Prize-winning author of A Machine That Would Go of Itself examines a central paradox of our national identity. How did "the land of the future" acquire a past? And to what extent has our collective memory of that past as embodied in our traditions been distorted, or even manufactured? Ranging from John Adams to Ronald Reagan, from the origins of Independence Day celebrations to the controversies surrounding the Vietnam War Memorial, from the Daughters of the American Revolution to immigrant associations, and filled with incisive analyses of such phenonema as Americana and its collectors, "historic" villages and Disneyland, Mystic Chords of Memory is a brilliant, immensely readable, and enormously important book.
"Fascinating . . . a subtle and teeming narrative . . . masterly." Time
"This is a big, ambitious book, and Kammen pulls it off admirably. . . . He] brings a prodigious mind and much scholarly rigor to his task. . . . An important book and a revealing look at how Americans look at themselves." Milwaukee Journal