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A short history of America
on 6 February 2012
I wasn't planning on reading this book, but since it found its way into my hands, I thought I could just as well take a look. Besides, it's but a short read and it took me no more than a few minutes to go through it.
So, what is it that the American president speaks or rather sings about, in this slim volume that he's written for his daughters? Well, for the USA, of course. He starts by asking "Have I ever told you...?" and then goes on and answers the questions he poses himself, and thus teaches his girls and the reader, in a simple and straightforward way, about the history of the land. He talks about all there is to know about the American nation and the people who helped build it in one way or another and about the creation of the multicultural society of today: about Georgia O' Keefe, the painter, who "helped us see big beauty in what is small", about Albert Einstein, who gave the world a wealth of knowledge, about Jackie Robinson, the first black baseball player, about the revolutionary and healer Sitting Bull, about Billie Holiday, the singer, about Helen Keller, who managed, even deaf and blind, to give the people lessons in strength and in courage, about Maya Lin, who designed the Vietnam Veterans Memorial, about the social reformer and Nobel Prize winner Jane Addams, who did everything within her powers to change this world of ours for the better, about the man who said to the people never to give up and changed forever the way of life of people in America, Martin Luther King, about Neil Armstrong, the explorer, and about Cezar Chavez, who fought for the rights of the farmers, about Abraham Lincoln, who said that all Americans are part of a big family and about George Washington, who declared that: "America is made up of people of every kind... They are all part of you..."
Is this a book that intends to teach the reader? Yes it is. Is it patriotic? That's for sure. But it is not nationalistic. And it is well-written. Loren Long's beautiful illustrations seem to bring the words to life in their own special way, while sentiment is not at all absent from the text as it opens with the line: "Have I told you lately how wonderful you are?" and closes with the following: "And have I told you that I love you?"
I guess Barack Obama's daughters will be proud of him, while for my part I can simply say: Not bad for a politician. Maybe, if not elected, he should take writing books as a full-time job. At least that way he'll finally be able to get rid of the various lobbyists; or not...