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Twenty-five Books That Shaped America: How White Whales, Green Lights, and Restless Spirits Forged Our National Identity
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HarperCollins 2011
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From the author of the New York Times bestselling How to Read Literature Like a Professor comes a highly entertaining and informative book on the twenty-five works of literature that have most shaped the American character.

Thomas C. Foster applies his much-loved combination of wit, know-how, and analysis to explain how each work has shaped our very existence as readers, students, teachers, and Americans. He illuminates how books such as The Last of the Mohicans, Moby-Dick, My Ántonia, The Great Gatsby, The Maltese Falcon, Their Eyes Were Watching God, On the Road, The Crying of Lot 49, and others captured an American moment, how they influenced our perception of nationhood and citizenship, and what about them endures in the American character. Twenty-five Books That Shaped America is a fun and enriching guide to America through its literature.

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Format:
Adobe EPUB eBook, Kindle Book, OverDrive Read
Street Date:
05/24/2011
Language:
English
ISBN:
9780062092076
ASIN:
B004MMEISW
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APA Citation (style guide)

Thomas C. Foster. (2011). Twenty-five Books That Shaped America: How White Whales, Green Lights, and Restless Spirits Forged Our National Identity. HarperCollins.

Chicago / Turabian - Author Date Citation (style guide)

Thomas C. Foster. 2011. Twenty-five Books That Shaped America: How White Whales, Green Lights, and Restless Spirits Forged Our National Identity. HarperCollins.

Chicago / Turabian - Humanities Citation (style guide)

Thomas C. Foster, Twenty-five Books That Shaped America: How White Whales, Green Lights, and Restless Spirits Forged Our National Identity. HarperCollins, 2011.

MLA Citation (style guide)

Thomas C. Foster. Twenty-five Books That Shaped America: How White Whales, Green Lights, and Restless Spirits Forged Our National Identity. HarperCollins, 2011. Web.

Note! Citation formats are based on standards as of July 2010. Citations contain only title, author, edition, publisher, and year published. Citations should be used as a guideline and should be double checked for accuracy.
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        Thomas C. Foster, author of How to Read Literature Like a Professor and Reading the Silver Screen, is professor emeritus of English at the University of Michigan, Flint, where he taught classes in contemporary fiction, drama, and poetry, as well as creative writing and freelance writing. He is also the author of several books on 20th-century British and Irish literature and poetry.

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Twenty-five Books That Shaped America
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From the author of the New York Times bestselling How to Read Literature Like a Professor comes a highly entertaining and informative book on the twenty-five works of literature that have most shaped the American character.

Thomas C. Foster applies his much-loved combination of wit, know-how, and analysis to explain how each work has shaped our very existence as readers, students, teachers, and Americans. He illuminates how books such as The Last of the Mohicans, Moby-Dick, My Ántonia, The Great Gatsby, The Maltese Falcon, Their Eyes Were Watching God, On the Road, The Crying of Lot 49, and others captured an American moment, how they influenced our perception of nationhood and citizenship, and what about them endures in the American character. Twenty-five Books That Shaped America is a fun and enriching guide to America through its literature.

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      • source: Janice A. Radway, author of A Feeling for Books
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        "Funny, challenging, clear, and always insightful, this intriguing book will make you think again about what it means to be an American." — Janice A. Radway, author of A Feeling for Books

        "Many readers will wish they had a high-school English teacher as cheery and engaged as Foster." — Kirkus Reviews

        "Foster is a witty, quirkily provocative, and perceptive literary critic." — Publishers Weekly

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        February 14, 2011
        Works of imaginative literature from American writers are Foster's choice for his "Great Books" list. Despite stilted language, Foster says, Cooper's The Last of the Mohicans makes the cut because Cooper shows us what a real, sprung-from-the-soil American hero looks like, and because it gave us the first mixed-race buddy story—a notable achievement in a racist time. Foster (How to Read Literature Like a Professor) doesn't much like The Scarlet Letter, but includes it because of Hawthorne's discerning eye for folly, hypocrisy, redemption, and our capacity for error. Walden's importance is about being that still point in the turning world; with Moby-Dick, Melville proves himself America's avatar of complex, even mad narrative; and The Great Gatsby is the most devastating portrait of capitalism run wild in Roaring 20s New York. Among the titles rounding out the list are Leaves of Grass, Huck Finn, My Antonia, The Cat in the Hat, On the Road, Song of Solomon, and Love Medicine. Foster tries to balance the list with women and African-American and Latino writers, though the classic canon and much of the list is predictable. But Foster is a witty, quirkily provocative and perceptive literary critic.

      • premium: True
      • source: Kirkus
      • content:

        February 1, 2011

        A genial guide to American literature from the bestselling author of How to Read Literature Like a Professor (2003) and How to Read Novels Like a Professor (2008).

        Call this one How to Read the American Myth Like a Professor. For his 25 selections, Foster (English/Univ. of Michigan, Flint) gravitates toward texts that bolster the folksier conception of Americans: rough-hewn, individualistic, fun-loving but concerned about family, full of prejudices but generally assimilating. Those familiar themes are underscored by the familiar books included here: The Autobiography of Benjamin FranklinLeaves of GrassThe Adventures of Huckleberry Finn and The Adventures of Augie March are sacred texts of freewheeling independence; Walden and My Antonia are praise songs to nature and the heartland; Go Down, Moses, On the Road and The Crying of Lot 49 showcase the wildness of American experimentalism. Foster doesn't mean to simplify these texts: In the better essays, he reveals Melville's complicated moral territory and the politics that pushed John Dos Passos' epic U.S.A. trilogy out of favor. When the author dedicates himself to close reading, as he does in chapters on Faulkner and Robert Frost, he unlocks plenty of insights. But with roughly 10 pages devoted to each classic, Foster is forced to generalize about the importance of each, making for bromides and upbeat interpretations. For instance, when he says a key message of The Grapes of Wrath is that "people can be generous and supportive and decent and even civic-minded when the profit motive is absent," he's not wrong, but he's softening a novel that throws hard elbows at the profit motive. Many readers will wish they had a high-school English teacher as cheery and engaged as Foster, but that doesn't make his choices feel any less outdated. He includes The Last of the Mohicans even though he admits that it's a slog, and the most recent book on the list, Louise Erdrich's Love Medicine, was published more than 25 yeas ago.

        A too-polite American Lit 101 primer.

        (COPYRIGHT (2011) KIRKUS REVIEWS/NIELSEN BUSINESS MEDIA, INC. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.)

      • premium: True
      • source: Library Journal
      • content:

        May 15, 2011

        Foster (English, Univ. of Michigan, Flint: How To Read Literature like a Professor) is quick to admit that selecting just 25 books to discuss how they helped shape and define a nation is "obviously insane," but he writes that these 25 are simply to be illustrative, not definitive. If you can get past how arbitrary this all seems, Foster's actual writing--breezy, smart, and funny--is a pleasure if a bit too cute. For example, he admits that he would prefer to write about The House of the Seven Gables ("it has a character named Hepzibah, and how often does one of those come along?") over The Scarlet Letter, but "all the world thinks otherwise," so discusses the latter. Nonetheless, Foster's chapters, which include overviews of The Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin, Little Women, My Antonia, The Crying of Lot 49, and Song of Solomon, may make you want to read, or reread, the books themselves. Foster concludes by briefly mentioning 15 additional books. VERDICT The book is a delight to read, but the author is not brave in his choices and doesn't take any stands. Not for scholars, but entertaining enough that people familiar with the titles may well enjoy it as much as readers new to many of the books covered.--William D. Walsh, Georgia State Univ., Atlanta

        Copyright 2011 Library Journal, LLC Used with permission.

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From the author of the New York Times bestselling How to Read Literature Like a Professor comes a highly entertaining and informative book on the twenty-five works of literature that have most shaped the American character.

Thomas C. Foster applies his much-loved combination of wit, know-how, and analysis to explain how each work has shaped our very existence as readers, students, teachers, and Americans. He illuminates how books such as The Last of the Mohicans, Moby-Dick, My Ántonia, The Great Gatsby, The Maltese Falcon, Their Eyes Were Watching God, On the Road, The Crying of Lot 49, and others captured an American moment, how they influenced our perception of nationhood and citizenship, and what about them endures in the American character. Twenty-five Books That Shaped America is a fun and enriching guide to America through its literature.

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Twentyfive Books That Shaped America How White Whales Green Lights and Restless Spirits Forged Our National Identity
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How White Whales, Green Lights, and Restless Spirits Forged Our National Identity
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