What it is we picture when we think of America?
Chances are, it will be one of the country’s many cultural or historical icons that spring to mind. It could be a famous American figure such as Martin Luther King, Joe Dimaggio or Bob Dylan. Perhaps it’s an iconic American landmark such as the Hollywood sign or Wall Street, or maybe even a pop-culture icon like Superman or the hamburger. Yale University Press’s ICONS OF AMERICA series focuses on these examples and more, giving us a fascinating insight into these famous symbols, as well as a broader
understanding of the country’s towering cultural legacy.
The Hollywood Sign
Fantasy and Reality of an American Icon
Hollywood’s famous sign, constructed of massive white block letters set into a steep hillside, is an emblem of the movie capital it looms over and an international symbol of glamour and star power. Leo Braudy traces the remarkable history of this distinctly American landmark. More
Like a Complete Unknown
Bob Dylan is an iconic figure in American music and cultural history. David Yaffe considers Dylan from four perspectives: his complicated relationship to blackness, the underrated influence of his singing style, his fascinating image in films, and his controversial songwriting methods that have led to charges of plagiarism. More
America’s Dream Palace
In this illuminating book, Steve Fraser recounts the colourful history of America’s love-hate relationship with Wall Street. Spanning the years from the first Wall Street panic of 1792 to the dot.com bubble-and-bust and Enron scandals of our own time, this book features stories and portraits of such larger-than-life figures as J P Morgan, Cornelius Vanderbilt and Michael Milken. More
What do Americans think of when they think of the hamburger? This book unfolds the immense significance of the hamburger as an American icon. It shows how its history is entwined with American business and culture and, unexpectedly, how the burger’s story is in many ways the story of the country that invented it. More
The Long Vigil
As the New York Yankees’ star centre fielder from 1936 to 1951, Joe DiMaggio is enshrined in America’s memory as the epitome in sports of grace, dignity, and that ineffable quality called ‘class’. Jerome Charyn presents the tragedy of one of American sports’ greatest figures. More
Arthur C. Danto
Arthur Danto delivers a tour of Andy Warhol’s personal, artistic, and philosophical transformations. In this fascinating book, Danto traces the evolution of the pop artist, including his early reception, relationships with artists such as Jasper Johns and Robert Rauschenberg, and the Factory phenomenon.
Eric J. Sundquist
‘I have a dream’ – no words are more widely recognized, or more often repeated, than those called out from the steps of the Lincoln Memorial by Martin Luther King, Jr, in 1963. Exploring the ‘I have a dream’ speech, Eric Sandquist places it in the history of American debates about racial justice, debates as old as the nation itself.
Superman on Earth
Tom De Haven
Created by Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster in the midst of the Great Depression, Superman is both a transcendent figure and, when posing as his alter-ego, reporter Clark Kent, a humble working-class citizen. Tom De Haven shares a personal history with the many Americans who came to this country in search of a better life. More
These are only a selection of books in the Icons of America Series. See the full list