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A one-of-a-kind guide to fifty of the most important cultural and historic sites in the United States guaranteed to fascinate, educate, and entertain—selected and described by the former director of the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History.
From Massachusetts to Florida to Washington to California, 50 Great American Places takes you on a journey through our nation’s history. Sharing the inside stories of sites as old as Mesa Verde (Colorado) and Cahokia (Illinois) and as recent as Silicon Valley (California) and the Mall of America (Minnesota), each essay provides the historical context for places that represent fundamental American themes: the compelling story of democracy and self-government; the dramatic impact of military conflict; the powerful role of innovation and enterprise; the inspiring achievements of diverse cultural traditions; and the defining influence of the land and its resources. Expert historian Brent D. Glass explores these themes by connecting places, people, and events and reveals a national narrative that is often surprising, sometimes tragic, and always engaging—complete with photographs, websites for more information, and suggestions for other places nearby worth visiting.
Sites you would expect to read about—in Boston, New York, and Washington, DC—are here, as well as plenty of surprises, such as the Palace of the Governors in Santa Fe, or Ebenezer Baptist Church in Atlanta, or the Village Green in Hudson, Ohio; less obvious places that, together with the more well-known destinations, collectively tell the story of America. For families who want to take a trip that is both educational and entertaining, for history enthusiasts, or anyone curious about our country’s greatest places, this book is the perfect guide.
About the Author
Brent D. Glass is Director Emeritus of the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History. A national leader in the preservation, interpretation, and promotion of history, Glass is a public historian who pioneered influential oral history and material culture studies, an author, television presence, and international speaker on public memory and museum management. He lives in Washington, DC.
David McCullough (1933–2022) twice received the Pulitzer Prize, for Truman and John Adams, and twice received the National Book Award, for The Path Between the Seas and Mornings on Horseback. His other acclaimed books include The Johnstown Flood, The Great Bridge, Brave Companions, 1776, The Greater Journey, The American Spirit, The Wright Brothers, and The Pioneers. He was the recipient of numerous honors and awards, including the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the nation’s highest civilian award. Visit DavidMcCullough.com.
"Author Brent D. Glass, director emeritus of the National Museum of American History at the Smithsonian Institution, is a public historian who believes that history should be made accessible to all. In this excellent book, Glass travels across the geographical breadth of the United States in his search for 'essential' historic sites. . . . It's a wonderful contribution to historical literacy, with a foreword by Pulitzer Prize-winning author David McCullough."
— June Sawyers
“Brent Glass’s 50 Great American Places is a joy to read. Ripe with historical insight, this work reminds us how much of our national identity has been shaped by these historic sites. This book is a gift to all those who want to understand what it means to be an American.”
— Lonnie Bunch, Founding Director of the Smithsonian’s National Museum of African American History and Culture
“Brent D. Glass's 50 GreatAmerican Places is a bountiful treasure trove of essays about sanctifiedhistoric sites and cultural landmarks. It should be required reading forschools across America. Every page crackles with wisdom and insight.Highly recommended!”
— Douglas Brinkley