A Is for American: Letters and Other Characters in the Newly United States (Google eBook)

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Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group, Dec 18, 2007 - History - 256 pages
4 Reviews
What ties Americans to one another? What unifies a nation of citizens with different racial, religious and ethnic backgrounds? These were the dilemmas faced by Americans in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries as they sought ways to bind the newly United States together.

In A is for American, award-winning historian Jill Lepore portrays seven men who turned to language to help shape a new nation’s character and boundaries. From Noah Webster’s attempts to standardize American spelling, to Alexander Graham Bell’s use of “Visible Speech” to help teach the deaf to talk, to Sequoyah’s development of a Cherokee syllabary as a means of preserving his people’s independence, these stories form a compelling portrait of a developing nation’s struggles. Lepore brilliantly explores the personalities, work, and influence of these figures, seven men driven by radically different aims and temperaments. Through these superbly told stories, she chronicles the challenges faced by a young country trying to unify its diverse people.

From the Trade Paperback edition.

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Review: A is for American: Letters and Other Characters in the Newly United States

User Review  - Ben Kruskal - Goodreads

Interesting essays about cultural trends in the early US viewed through the lens of alphabets writing systems and language Gave me some insights into the feel of intellectual/political life in 19th ... Read full review

Review: A is for American: Letters and Other Characters in the Newly United States

User Review  - Tom Darrow - Goodreads

A good bit of history. The author looks at early American history through the perspective of 8 linguists. Some are focused on purifying American English, some are trying to find more efficient ways of ... Read full review


An American Language
Natural Language
Strange Characters 1 l l
Universal Communication
Visible Speech
Men of Progress

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About the author (2007)

Jill Lepore is an associate professor of history at Boston University. She is the author of The Name of War: King Philip’s War and the Origins of American Identity, which won the Bancroft Prize, Phi Beta Kappa’s Ralph Waldo Emerson Award, the Berkshire Conference of Women Historians’ Book Prize, and the New England Historical Association’s Book Award. She is cofounder and coeditor of the Web magazine Common-place (www.common-place.org), and lives in Cambridge, Massachusetts.

From the Trade Paperback edition.

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