Mystic Chords of Memory by Michael Kammen
The Transformation of Tradition in American Culture (Vintage)

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Mystic Chords of Memory

"Illustrated with hundreds of well-chosen anecdotes and minute observations . . . Kammen is a demon researcher who seems to have mined his nuggets from the entire corpus of American cultural history . . . insightful and sardonic."
Washington Post Book World

In this ground-breaking, panoramic work of American cultural history, the Pulitzer Prize-winning author of A Machine That Would Go of Itself examines a central paradox of our national identity How did "the land of the future" acquire a past? And to what extent has our collective memory of that past—as embodied in our traditions—have been distorted, or even manufactured? Ranging from John Adams to Ronald Reagan, from the origins of Independence Day celebrations to the controversies surrounding the Vietnam War Memorial, from the Daughters of the American Revolution to immigrant associations, and filled with incisive analyses of such phenonema as Americana and its collectors, "historic" villages and Disneyland, Mystic Chords of Memory is a brilliant, immensely readable, and enormously important book.

"Fascinating . . . a subtle and teeming narrative . . . masterly."  —Time

"This is a big, ambitious book, and Kammen pulls it off admirably. . . . [He] brings a prodigious mind and much scholarly rigor to his task . . . an importnat book—and a revealing look at how Americans look at themselves."
Milwaukee Journal


About Michael Kammen

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Michael Kammen was born in Rochester in 1936. He took his BA at George Washington University and his PhD at Harvard. He is Newton C. Farr Professor of American History and Culture at Cornell University, where he has taught since 1965. A past President of the Organization of American Historians, he is the author or editor of numerous works and has lectured throughout the world. His People of Paradox was a Pulitzer Prize winner.
Published August 17, 2011 by Vintage. 880 pages
Genres: History. Non-fiction

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 An ambitious, wonderfully detailed investigation into the shifting perceptions of American cultural identity from Pulitzer Prize-winner (People of Paradox, 1973) Kammen (American History and Culture/Cornell; A Machine That Would Go of Itself, 1986, etc.).

May 20 2010 | Read Full Review of Mystic Chords of Memory: The ...

Publishers Weekly

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From Lincoln to FDR to Reagan, America's leaders have invoked a mythic past, and one of the merits of Cornell historian Kammen's massive study is to show that appeals to collective memory can be a mea

Nov 04 1991 | Read Full Review of Mystic Chords of Memory: The ...

Publishers Weekly

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In 1942, during the intermission in a Metropolitan Opera broadcast performance, Walt Disney commented that Dopey is as well qualified as I am to discuss culture in America, adding that even the wo

Feb 01 1993 | Read Full Review of Mystic Chords of Memory: The ...

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