- Taschenbuch: 196 Seiten
- Verlag: Paul Dry Books; Auflage: 1st Paul Dry Books Ed (1. April 2007)
- Sprache: Englisch
- ISBN-10: 158988034X
- ISBN-13: 978-1589880344
- Größe und/oder Gewicht: 13,5 x 1,5 x 20,3 cm
- Durchschnittliche Kundenbewertung: Schreiben Sie die erste Bewertung
- Amazon Bestseller-Rang: Nr. 683.853 in Fremdsprachige Bücher (Siehe Top 100 in Fremdsprachige Bücher)
American Places: A Writer's Pilgrimage to 16 of This Country's Most Visited and Cherished Sites: A Writer's Pilgrimage to Sixteen of This Country's Most Visited and Cherished Sites (Englisch) Taschenbuch – 1. April 2007
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Praise for William Zinsser and American Places
"This inspiring guide includes places everyone means to go to some day, all described with the usual clarity of the author of On Writing Well."The New York Times
"A fascinating take on 'the search for memory' and how certain places have come to symbolize deep American principles."Kirkus Reviews
"American Places paints vivid word pictures that put you in those places and make you feel that you've been there, but it also encourages each of us to take our own trek through history."Riverside Press-Enterprise
"Zinsser's choices and descriptions are refreshing because of the obvious thought that went into the selections. It's also fun to read Zinsser's observations."Chicago Tribune
Setting out in the spring of 1990 'to look for America', when patriotic travel was suddenly back in fashion, William Zinsser made first-time pilgrimages to some of America's most cherished and visited historic sites: Mount Rushmore, Rockefeller Center, Yellowstone National Park, Pearl Harbor, even the "corny and obvious" Niagara Falls. At these and his other iconic destinations, Zinsser unlearned cliched assumptions and rediscovered fundamental truths about America. Originally published in 1992, "American Places" and the ideals that Zinsser discovers these places represent will never go out of fashion.Alle Produktbeschreibungen
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I like his choice of "American Places"; I like his descriptions, his comments, the comments from the "caretakers"; and I learned a whole lot, even about places I thought I knew.
If I had the money, I'd buy enough copies to give to all my friends! If I still had a bookstore, I'd stock it generously (I'm retired).
My reservations stemmed from the basic premise underlying the book - Zinsser's decision to visit, for the first time in his life, 15 sites that are widely considered to reflect something fundamental about America's sense of its national identity. I knew enough about Zinsser to guess that in 1990-91, when he made the trips described in this book, he was probably well into his sixties. You have to wonder a little about an otherwise worldly American who has passed more than threescore years without feeling impelled to check out most of this country's best-known natural or historic attractions. This personal uneasiness about Zinsser was intensified when he acknowledged on page 2 that in addition to the 15 places he visited when writing this book, as of 1990 he had also never visited Independence Hall, Plymouth Rock, Gettysburg, or the U.S. Capitol building in Washington, D.C.
That led me to wonder how a native New Yorker with long-time roots in New England could have failed during his childhood to visit at least a smattering of the country's best-known historical sites, many of which are concentrated along the Boston-New York-Washington corridor. And what kind of person who enjoyed travel would avoid visiting most of this country's best-known attractions for almost his entire adult life? It was hard to avoid the conclusion that Zinsser missed visiting these places earlier because he was affirmatively determined to avoid them.
All of that might lead you to wonder whether this book should more appropriately have been subtitled, "A New York Intellectual Goes to See Where the Rest of Us Spend Our Vacations." But bear with Zinsser. He is hindered at times by the surprising parochialism that afflicts many eastern intellectuals. In particular, he appears to have no understanding of, or appreciation for, this country's military traditions. This weakness is reflected in his decision to omit Gettysburg from his list of "iconic" sites to visit; in his difficulty appreciating the hold that the Alamo has over the emotions of many Americans; and in his remarkable admission - for a member of the World War II generation, no less - that when he visited Pearl Harbor for the first time, he hadn't the foggiest idea of what the "Arizona Memorial" was.
Nevertheless, on the evidence of this book, Zinsser is also modest, inquisitive, and generally open-minded and empathetic. And he is an excellent reporter. His methodology here is simple. He visits and summarizes what is to be seen at the site (with no attempt at lyricism for its own sake); traces the course of its development as a tourist mecca; and then asks those who work at the place how they account for its popularity.
It would be easy to sneer or condescend at Mount Rushmore, for example - by today's more environmentally conscious lights, it is a bizarre desecration of nature - but Zinsser does neither. His account of Rushmore's creator, the sculptor Gutzon Borglum, is written with wry appreciation and real sensitivity. His chapter about the Wright Brothers and their achievement on North Carolina's windswept Outer Banks is an unabashed celebration of self-taught American know-how and persistence. His report on Niagara Falls persuaded me that it was high time I put aside my own reluctance to visit that turn-of-the-century honeymooners' magnet. And his chapters on Hannibal and Concord led me to resolve that I really should read "Huckleberry Finn," and Thoreau's "Walden," and some of Emerson's essays.
This book is also full of interesting historical nuggets. I never knew that Borglum, Mount Rushmore's creator, was also responsible for the first stages of carving the Confederate pantheon of Lee, Stonewall Jackson and Jefferson Davis on Georgia's Stone Mountain. I was surprised to discover that the number of British and Irish emigrants in the Alamo's garrison substantially exceeded the number of native-born Texans. And it is striking to learn that after men had dreamed for thousands of years of being able to fly, the Wright Brothers finally solved the problem in a disciplined, economical effort that took less than four years and required the expenditure of barely $300.
By the time I finished this book, I felt that I'd been too critical of Zinsser initially. After all, I'd been to only a third of the sites that Zinsser covers in this book (although I have been to a number of other "iconic" sites that he does not cover). The sheer size of this country and the dispersal of its most important historical sites and natural wonders means that a concerted, deliberate effort is required to visit many of them. Zinsser's book has prompted me to be more conscious of how good a job I'm doing about taking my own children to see America's most visited and cherished sites.
As for Zinsser himself, I hope these travels have inspired him to further expand his horizons. I hope he's finally gotten over his instinctive resistance to matters military and made the pilgrimage to Gettysburg, and perhaps Antietam, too. And I'd love to someday see an article in which he tries to take the measure of Graceland!
There are millions of places to visit in America that most people probably don't give two thoughts about taking their children there. He digs deep, opens our eyes and lets us know that good quality fun is right in your backyard-you just have to look.