Book Review

Books that Changed America

Books that Changed America

I found this hardback at the used bookstore and really enjoyed it. Events immediately in the author's rearview mirror are smaller than they appear as contemporary fame might have led the author to overstate the impact of some of the books in later chapters.

Nonetheless, this book is an excellent survey of books that shaped American public opinion from the Revolutionary period until its publication in the 1960s. Framing each in their own unique historical contexts, the author outlines the lasting impact of twenty five books from Paine's Common Sense through Rachel Carson's Silent Spring.

Valuable enough for readers today for its original historical literary analysis, Downs' book is an interesting read sixty years later, providing as much insight into Downs' own time period in 1960s America as for the historical setting of each work therein.