The author of A Capital For The Nation (1990) presents another American symbol in a skimpy history of the US's most important patriotic holiday. Hoig approaches the subject from two directions: a lively, if episodic, account of how the Declaration of Independence's ratification came to he commemorated, sandwiched between reminders that the ideals celebrated on the Fourth are ones we are still struggling to live up to. The choice of detail reads like a set of historical snapshots, parades, and parties (toasting each state was a common practice until the number of states began to exceed the human capacity for drink) alternating with more somber events (the nearly simultaneous deaths of Jefferson and Adams, the battles of Gettysburg and Little Big Horn). The narrative is further padded with side trips to the Statue of Liberty and the Washington Monument, a discussion of discrimination that recapitulates points made elsewhere, and the Declaration's complete text. Meanwhile, the 20th century gets six pages, with little or nothing on recent traditions, the efforts to preserve the Declaration physically, or even how fireworks came to be associated with the Fourth. Many of the b&w photos and reproductions are muddy (and misplaced) space-fillers. A weak alternative to James Cross Giblin's Fireworks, Picnics and Flags (1983).