The Sum of Our Dreams: Five Books that Changed American History

Louis Masur – Rutgers University

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James Baldwin once remarked that American history is “longer, larger, more various, more beautiful and more terrible than anything anyone has ever said about it.” In this sweeping survey, Louis Masur probes that history by focusing on five books that changed America: Thomas Paine’s Common Sense, Harriet Beecher Stowe’s Uncle Tom’s Cabin, Jacob Riis’s How the Other Half Lives, John Steinbeck’s Grapes of Wrath, and Martin Luther King’s Letter from a Birmingham Jail. “ These books not only help us understand the past, they also continue to speak in various ways to the present.