"This is a glorious collection. The Atlantic has been at the fore of America’s intellectual and literary life for 150 years, and these pieces show how the spirit of Twain and Holmes has remained alive. It’s an addictive offering."
— Walter Isaacson, author of Einstein: His Life and Universe
"From the Civil War through the War on Terror, The Atlantic Monthly has moderated a civilized and intelligent debate over what it means to be an American. This anthology expertly guides the reader through that conversation with headnotes that provide invaluable context to each piece. Reading The American Idea one marvels at the vital role The Atlantic has played not only in the history of American magazines, but in the history of the country itself."
–Robert S. Boynton, author of The New New Journalism and director of the magazine writing program at New York University’s Department of Journalism
"This scintillating, infinitely varied and irresistibly readable collection of the best writing published in The Atlantic Monthly over the last 150 years is a revelation – of the quality of writing that a magazine can aspire to, and achieve, with stunning frequency; and of the power of words, occasional and otherwise, to make you think, laugh, shudder, wonder, and feel. The effect of browsing through this astonishing collection is to have one’s faith in American culture and the republic of letters restored. The introductory headnotes briefly sketching how and in what context each piece came to press are invaluable."
— Ric Burns, documentary filmmaker
"Readers can see the nation through the eyes of its finest writers, such as Mark Twain, Henry James, Oliver Wendell Holmes, Walt Whitman, Martin Luther King, Jr., Helen Keller and, from more recent days, William Least Heat-Moon, Garrison Keillor and William Langewiesche, all of whose work shows up in this remarkable anthology."
–Julia Keller, The Chicago Tribune
From the Hardcover edition.