History The Men Who United the States by Simon Winchester | Book Review Roundup | The Omnivore

Published on December 13th, 2013


The Men Who United the States by Simon Winchester

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Blurb: From bestselling author Simon Winchester, the extraordinary story of how America was united into a single nation.

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For more than two centuries, E pluribus unum – out of many, one – has been featured on America’s official government seals and stamped on its currency. But how did America become ‘one nation, indivisible’? In this monumental history, Simon Winchester addresses this question, introducing the fearless trailblazers whose achievements forged and unified America.

Winchester follows in the footsteps of America’s most essential explorers, thinkers, and innovators. He treks vast swaths of territory, introducing these fascinating pioneers – some, such as Washington and Jefferson, Lewis and Clark being familiar, some forgotten, some hardly known – who played a pivotal role in creating today’s United States. Throughout, he ponders whether the historic work of uniting the States has succeeded, and to what degree.

‘The Men Who United the States’ is a fresh, lively, and erudite look at the way in which the most powerful nation on earth came together, from one of our most entertaining, probing, and insightful observers.

(William Collins, 2013)

Jay Parini, Literary Review 

“In an age when specialists dominate most academic professions, it’s something of a relief to come upon the likes of Winchester, who is foolhardy enough to take huge intellectual leaps. No sane historian would want to go where he goes in The Men Who United the States. But, in large part because of his amateur status, boldness and decidedly nonacademic approach to history, Winchester achieves something quite remarkable here.”

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Robert G Kaiser, The Washington Post 

“Engaging … If the book’s structure can sometimes bewilder, its largest theme is clear from beginning to end, and it is surprisingly relevant in today’s Washington. “Without an engaged and functioning federal government,” Winchester writes at the outset, the events and heroics he describes, “these various strands of the country’s connective tissue would probably have been either delayed or never achieved at all.” From Lewis and Clark to the engineers who invented the Internet, all Winchester’s heroes either worked for the government or were sponsored by its agencies.”

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Stephen Mihm, The New York Times 

“All of this is fascinating. But is the “connective tissue” of the United States really a matter of building highways, whether traveled by cars or electrons? Putting people in touch with one another doesn’t magically yield unity … Winchester is sufficiently entertaining that it’s easy to forget the holes in his argument and enjoy the ride.”

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John Preston, The Spectator

“…amid the windiness and the bigging-himself-up there are some remarkable tales here… But however strange or stirring these stories, it doesn’t do them any favours to relate them in a prose style that reads like God let loose on a thesaurus.”

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