This unusual book by Walter A. McDougall is the first of what will be a three-volume history of America. If this volume, which covers the period 1585 to 1828, is any indication of the promised whole, the trilogy may have a major impact on how we Americans understand ourselves.
A "candid" history, its major theme is "the American people's penchant for hustling." We Americans, he claims, are a nation of people on the make.
If today we are shocked by shenanigans like the Enron debacle, insider trading, mutual fund abuses and the prevalence of special interests in politics, we need to get some perspective on our history.
His beautifully produced vignettes include not only the major figures like Hamilton and Jefferson, but also lesser ones like Hugh Henry Brackenridge, Eli Whitney and "a true American hustler," Cornelius Vanderbilt.
Calling CNN -- can we get Anderson Cooper to interview McDougall?