A Is for American by Jill Lepore
Letters and Other Characters in the Newly United States

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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.

About Jill Lepore

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Jill Lepore is the David Woods Kemper '41 Professor of American History at Harvard University and a staff writer at The New Yorker. She lives in Cambridge, Massachusetts.
Published December 18, 2007 by Vintage. 256 pages
Genres: History, Education & Reference, Travel. Non-fiction

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Kirkus Reviews

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From innovative, Bancroft Prize–winning historian Lepore (The Name of War: King Philip’s War and the Origins of American Identity, 1998), a group portrait of seven 19th-century Americans whose efforts in the development of language paralleled and contributed to the growth of our national identity.

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Publishers Weekly

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In her latest effort, historian Lepore (winner of the Bancroft Prize for The Name of War) explores the significant and occasionally unsettling ways language was

Dec 17 2001 | Read Full Review of A Is for American: Letters an...

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