x Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 23 January 2018

Briton’s tribute to America

Simon Winchester examines the historical forces that have made American unity possible in The Men Who United the States.

Paul Muir

Simon Winchester is a Briton who is absolutely head-over-heels in love with America and all things American, which is a bit surprising, really, for a member in good standing of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire .

But love it he does, so much so that he wrote The Men Who United the States, a very charming and meticulously researched celebration of America’s enduring unity and the various people and historical forces that have made it possible.

His approach is quite original: he places the basic themes behind the country’s establishment and development in the context of the five classical elements – wood, earth, water, fire and metal .

Wood? Think wilderness exploration. Earth: the discovery of rich mineral deposits. Water: power generation and transport. Fire: the combustion engine. Metal: the telegraph wire.

This book is clearly aimed at those who share Winchester’s unbridled enthusiasm for US history, but his quirky, entertaining approach makes it broadly appealing.