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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.
19 of 20 people found this review helpful
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.
8 of 8 people found this review helpful