An astounding array of poems about the American identity, representing the events and attitudes that have helped shape a unique history, by the compiler of Fairy Tales from Eastern Europe (1991). War, race, injustice, the American language and landscape all inspire deeply felt emotions, from fierce patriotism to fiery outrage. ""The Battle Hymn of the Republic"" coexists with e.e. cummings' ""heroic happy dead."" Walt Whitman sings America, and Langston Hughes, Ezra Pound, and Allen Ginsberg sing Wait Whitman. There's John Greenleaf Whittier's brave ""Barbara Frietchie,"" and Ogden Nash's Barbara Frietchie, who "". . .scratched/When she was itchy."" The selections are diverse, incisive, and crisply written; some feature McCurdy's sturdy images, carved in black against the white page, more decoration than scenery, and mutely leaving readers to fall upon the poems with their own interpretations intact. In art and word, the America that emerges is compelling in all its contradictions.