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The Idea of America: How Values Shaped Our Republic and Hold the Key to Our Future

book coverAt the heart of America is a great debate. And at the heart of that debate are our shared values: law and ethics, freedom and equality, diversity and unity, common wealth and private wealth. The Idea of America: How Values Shaped Our Republic and Hold the Key to Our Future describes these values and shows how the tensions between them have shaped and continue to shape our history.

“A superb account of American life through the centuries.”  Gordon S. Wood, author of Empire of Liberty

“Worthy reading for students of history—both young and old.”  Rex Ellis, Associate Director for Curatorial Affairs, Smithsonian Institution

“This is a must read for us all.” Carol Berkin, author of A Brilliant Solution: Inventing the American Constitution and Revolutionary Mothers: Women in the Struggle for America’s Independence


Bill White discussed The Idea of America: How Values Shaped Our Republic and Hold the Key to Our Future, on Virginia Conversations, with May-Lily Lee on WVTF Radio April 26, 2013. Listen to the archive of the program.


About the Book:

Publisher: The Colonial Williamsburg Foundation
Publication Date: March 2013
Specifications: 7x10, 176 pages, 92 illustrations, color throughout
ISBN: 978-0-87935-260-8
Retail price: $18.95 paperback
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Now available as an e-book

Retail price: $9.99
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About the Authors

H. Michael Hartoonian is scholar in residence at Hamline University in Saint Paul, Minnesota. He was formerly a professor and director of the Institute for Democratic Capitalism in the Department of Educational Policy and Administration, University of Minnesota. He is a former president of the National Council for the Social Studies.

Richard D. Van Scotter is a writer in Colorado Springs, Colorado. He has taught at Grinnell College and the University of Colorado at Boulder and Colorado Springs as well as at Homewood-Flossmoor High School, Illinois. He is the author of Public Schooling in America and What Citizens Need to Know about Economics and the coauthor of Social Foundations of Education.

William E. White is the Royce R. & Kathryn M. Baker Vice President of Productions, Publications, and Learning Ventures at the Colonial Williamsburg Foundation. He leads the Foundation's education media programs and is the lead author of, among other educational resources, Colonial Williamsburg's American history high school digital curriculum, The Idea of America™.

America: The Pocket Guide

America: The Pocket Guide

This tiny guide introduces you to a very big idea: The Idea of America. No matter who you are, where you come from, or what you believe, you are American if you believe in the idea of America.
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