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Editorial Reviews

Renowned historian Simon Schama uses the election of 2008 as a springboard to discuss America's future as shaped by stories of its past. He examines the ideals and the problems of the country's formative years up through 2008 and how the nation became ideologically divided to the point where that year represented a dramatic crossroads and history was made. Accomplished British voice actor Rupert Degas brings the history to life, his clear diction and powerful voice invoking the magnitude of the election of Barack Obama. For an interesting perspective that puts some of the elements of the American story into a narrative that includes the good and the bad but looks forward with hope toward the future.
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Publisher's Summary

Acclaimed historian and award-winning author Simon Schama offers an essential historical perspective on the crucial 2008 presidential election and its importance for reclaiming America's original ideal. It's not business as usual. Cultural hostilities more irreconcilable than any since the Civil War have divided America in two. In November 2008, the American people elected a new president, feeling more anxious about the future of the nation than at any time since Watergate. Our omnipotent military, the cornucopia of material comforts available, the security of our borders, and the global economy can no longer be taken for granted.
In The American Future, historian Simon Schama takes a long look at the multiple crises besetting the United States and asks how these problems look in the mirror of time. In four crucial debates - on wars, religion, race and immigration, and the relationship between natural resources and prosperity - Schama looks back to see more clearly into the future.
Full of lost insights, The American Future showcases Schama's acclaimed gift for storytelling, ensuring these voices will be heard again.
©2009 Simon Schama (P)2009 HarperCollins Publishers
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Critic Reviews

"A lively meditation on American history... Schama's wide-ranging narratives wander between contemporary reportage...and fluent, richly literate history." ( Publishers Weekly)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful
4 out of 5 stars
By D. Littman on 05-30-09

Simon Schama is always entertaining

Simon Schama has a knack for writing beautifully and finding interesting and often obscure stories to highlight his historical theses. The fact that some of his books, including this one, are companions to BBC or PBS shows, helps his texts move along at a fast clip (a good feature for an audiobook), makes sure that the material contains good word-pictures to light up your mind, and makes sure the words, sentences, paragraphs and chapters are well edited. The downside of all this is that sometimes the topics are left somewhat under-developed, somewhat superficial. But as long as you know that is the style, going in, you can suspend your critical eye and just go along for a very entertaining ride. I highly recommend the book. I have only dinged it one star for occasionally irritating superficiality, and for the narrator's occasional lapses into fake accents to speak out quotes from the characters. Minor blemishes in a good audiobook.

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19 of 20 people found this review helpful

4 out of 5 stars
By Joshua Kim on 06-10-12


You know those questions that go "if you could have dinner with anyone, who would it be?". Well...I think I'd choose Simon Schama. Or maybe a roadtrip. Schama is one of those historians who both have something to say about how we live now and the depth of knowledge to ground his thinking by weaving stories from our past. One part sociology, one part history, all very smart and engaging. The American Future should be read in conjunction with watching the BBC documentary of the same title, narrated by Schama.

Reading the book while watching the documentary does wonderful things for the brain in terms of reinforcing the concepts and stories with images. It helps the stories stick.
Schama's basic premise is that the election of Obama represents the culmination of an American journey towards our nation struggling to live up to our founding myths. Only American could produce the horror of the civil war, segregation and institutional racism while holding the promise of electing an African American to the highest office. This American Future beautifully chronicles our redemption, placing the biggest story of our times firmly within our American narrative.

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8 of 8 people found this review helpful

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