David M. Rubenstein The American Story: Conversations With Master Historians

Last updated: August 5, 2020

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Product Details

In our analysis of 34 expert reviews, the David M. Rubenstein The American Story: Conversations With Master Historians placed 6th when we looked at the top 7 products in the category. For the full ranking, see below.

From The Manufacturer

Co-founder of The Carlyle Group and patriotic philanthropist David M. Rubenstein takes readers on a sweeping journey across the grand arc of the American story through revealing conversations with our greatest historians. Through his popular program The David Rubenstein Show, David Rubenstein has established himself as one of our most thoughtful interviewers. Now, in The American Story, David captures the brilliance of our most esteemed historians, as well as the souls of their subjects. The book features introductions by Rubenstein as well a foreword by Librarian of Congress Carla Hayden, the first woman and the first African American to lead our national library. Richly illustrated with archival images from the Library of Congress, the book is destined to become a classic for serious readers of American history. Through these captivating exchanges, these bestselling and Pulitzer Prize–winning authors offer fresh insight on pivotal moments from the Founding Era to the late 20th century.

Expert Reviews

What reviewers liked

Captivating book that shows a glimpse into American experience through some of our best patriots and the historians who tell their stories. The book is written as a series of interviews conducted at the Library of Congress so it’s very quick to read with interesting insights on every page. Each chapter is a different person from Washington to MLK to Chief Justice Roberts.
For those who love history and enjoy biography, David M. Rubenstein has delivered a masterstroke with The American Story, in which he presents his interviews with authors of notable biographies. The Q&A format of this book is ingenious. Rubenstein, who’s mastered his subject matter, asks informed questions that stimulate impressive responses, and the “patriotic philanthropist” is not above probing into the personal and provocative.
The best discussions are fascinating and surprisingly funny, as when A. Scott Berg relates the moment that he discovered how Charles Lindbergh relieved himself during his transatlantic flight: in a paper cup. Rubinstein elicits unexpected biographical nuggets.
The text, accompanied by a generous selection of archival images from the LOC, provides a smooth education in American history, with an emphasis on presidents.
His new book, “The American Story: Conversations With Master Historians,” is another important gift helping to preserve our shared history. The book is born out of Rubenstein’s idea that elected men and women serving in Congress would benefit from a deeper understanding of the past. Perhaps one of the most memorable conversations included Doris Goodwin, one of only two female scholars in the book. Her storytelling prowess and sense of humor are clear.
Mr. Rubenstein recorded interviews with master historians as they closely examined some of the most important historical figures of the United States, the founders, great Presidents and figures like Charles Lindbergh. Each chapter is devoted to its own author and historical figure, and each chapter is easily worthy of it’s own review of 2,000 words.

What reviewers didn't like

Rubenstein is easily the worst interviewer I have ever encountered outside of an elementary school. He constantly interrupts his subjects, usually right when they are wrapping up a complex or nuanced story. Rubenstein interrupts to advertise his knowledge of the most basic aspects of history, oftentimes not even bothering to phrase it as a question. He's like a belligerent version of the Chris Farley sketch.
Broader ranging conversations, however, such as Jay Winik on FDR, can feel a bit disjointed and in need of tighter editing. The homogenous roster of interviewees and historical subjects, however, underrepresents women (only Goodwin, Cokie Roberts, and the “Founding Mothers” are featured) and people of color. Suffers for its lack of inclusivity.
Eschewing controversy and avoiding penetrating insights. Breaks no new ground.
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