Let me say to begin with that this book is not in anyway a history of the United States-how could it be at less than 400 pages? However, don't let that put you off-what Schama has done here is to offer a history of American ideas especially those enshrined in the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution. The real theme here is how Americans have lived up to those promises and when they have not. However, what makes Schama's account particularly refreshing is his marshalling of evidence to demonstrate the enduring power of these founding principles: whilst the obvious American betrayals are here of the Native indians, African Americans in the South or Chinese railway labourers they are effectively balanced by the stories of Montgomery Miegs the uncorruptable American soldier who regarded his duty as the defence of the constitution or examples of the rich diversity of worship which thrives under the guarantees of religious toleration which were a cornerstone of the Founding Father's concept of liberty. Schama is very much the micro-historian in this book deploying well-chosen personal lifestories to make the broader point-it works much better than some generalising narrative-being both highly readable and often genuinely informative. These personal perspectives are interspersed with sketches from the 2008 Presidential Election Campaign where Schama unashamedly wears his heart on his sleeve, seeing it as the moment when Obama had to triumph to restore faith not in America, but in its guiding principles and values. Of course, not everyone will share this view, but I recommend this book wholeheartedly to all, but especially to Americans of all political views and Europeans who have indulged in America bashing to excess. America's future Schama's stimulating account reminds us, has a much stronger underpinning of principle than that of many countries who despise it.