Thomas Carlyle said of history: it""is the essence of innumerable biographies"". In this book the author incorporates Carlyle's concept in a unique approach to a survey of American history. Although he devotes portions of the book to the destruction of widely accepted fairy tales -- George Washington and the cherry tree, Thomas Jefferson versus the villainous Hamilton -- he does not deal primarily with the lives and events of the country's leaders. Rather, he analyzes the character of the American historical experience through a biographical study of its writers -- from William Bradford and his Puritan mission in History to the recent historiographers. The book, in its most limited interpretation, is a series of biographical sketches; in its deeper interpretation, it summarizes the general body of ideas to which Americans adhere. Thus the accompanying details about any segment of history, i.e., the Revolution and the Civil War, have a significance in the broader content of the whole- the intellectual history of the American nation. The book is invaluable as an annotated bibliography of the writings of each period. Mr. Wish has produced a solid work of historical scholarship and I would recommend the book to both the student of history and to the general reader.