This book presents history in a more accessible and engaging way. It recognizes that words are the very currency of American life ― our tools of communication and rally; encouragement and persuasion; and observation and critique. It accepts that because history is strapped to our backs, an understanding of our country's history is a central component of our national community. And it reveals that history has to be taught differently and that knowing who said what, where and when is a far lighter way to learn (and for some of us, to relive) the many pieces of our country's recent past.
The first of three volumes, Dead Serious and Lighthearted (Vol. 1, 1957-1976) carefully presents the Memorable Words of Modern America - those words, which by their prescience, passion, eloquence, or raw wisdom reveal our country and frame our history. Included herein are the fascinating and the frivolous, the tragic and the momentous, the successes and the failures; the eloquent and the bumbling; the folly and the humor; the predictions and reflections; the toil and trouble; the life and laughter; and the touching and the endearing - from Ike to Obama, from Lucy to Lady Gaga.
The words are carefully presented. Each entry is followed by an identification of the speaker or writer and the words' place, context, meaning, and consequence. The Memorable Words are presented chronologically and just as they arrived―commingled and disjointed, with each entry and event overlapping or overlaying one another.
Also included are many of the other more "lighthearted" words of our American life―the titles of the most well-read and most frequently banished books; the most-watched or critically-acclaimed movies and television shows; and even the chants and slogans of political campaigns and the taglines of major product marketing campaigns.
These books are written without agenda but with an unbending acceptance of the fact that our country, for the first time in its history, is crowded by the presence of four generations―each dangerously unknowing (in some cases, blithely and dangerously uncaring) about the events that formed the perspective of their predecessor or successor generations.
These Memorable Words can help us know our country and better remember who we are, who we were, and from whence we came. It is of little news that America is in an edgy era; that Americans are out of step from one another; that too often people with different opinions are viewed with suspicion, if not disdain. Our people are too often subjected to fear, verbosity, and bluster. But even a gentle reading of these Memorable Words may allow us to tone down the cacophony of our conversations. In that manner, it is hoped that this book, at this uneasy time in our history, may help to bring us together, lower our voices, raise our spirits, and renew our hopes by merely reflecting upon whence we came as a nation. Dead Serious and Lighthearted can help us better remember what has been achieved, so that, in turn, we may be able to better accept and embrace what now must be done.