Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “Mystic Chords of Memory: The Transformation of Tradition in American Culture” as Want to Read:
Mystic Chords of Memory: The Transformation of Tradition in American Culture
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

Mystic Chords of Memory: The Transformation of Tradition in American Culture

3.86 of 5 stars 3.86  ·  rating details  ·  74 ratings  ·  8 reviews
In this ground-breaking, panoramic work of American cultural history, Pulitzer Prize-winning historian Michael Kammen examines a central paradox of our national identity: How did "the land of the future" acquire a past? And to what extent has our collective memory of that past, as embodied in our traditions, been distorted, or even manufactured?

Ranging from John Adams to
...more
Paperback, 1st Vintage Books edition, 877 pages
Published February 1993 by Vintage Books (first published 1991)
more details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about Mystic Chords of Memory, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about Mystic Chords of Memory

This book is not yet featured on Listopia. Add this book to your favorite list »

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 156)
filter  |  sort: default (?)  |  rating details
Jonathan Hedgpeth
This is an exceptional work. I got through all 704 pages in roughly a month's time. I took away one star from my review for Kammen's frequently challenging narrative style--but when he hits one home, boy does he ever knock it way out of the park. The book is full of valuable nuggets about cultural construction and the use of/prevalence of myth in American society. The gleaning of salient points from the storied lives of individuals such as Bernard DeVoto, Zora Neale Hurston, Edith Halpert, Allen ...more
Rob
The most overused word in the history of book reviewing-- "magisterial"-- suggests an epic scale and a vast depth of learning. It can also suggest an unending tangle of painstakingly ordered facts.

In Mystic Chords, Kammen trots out enough learning about the history of history to give an Oxford don heartburn. Truly magisterial, like a shelf filled with old law books. Wearying details about the commencement speeches at famous monuments and historical societies seem to swirl whirl around the vague
...more
Robert Ripson
Exceptional account of how America has learned to have a memory. A memory of tradition, myths, and even symbolic notions of what it means to be an American.
Julie
Kammen is an able writer on the topic of the creation of cultural democracy. This book sheds light on that mystery on how to democratize democracy if you will so that it is culturally present. It is a good read and one that enables the seeing of the monuments as deliberate stone built testaments to an ongoing act of a creative experiment in the visual and sociological landscape. Interesting book.
Michael Greening
There is something about this book that is marvelous. Not sure if it lies in the connection of public memory and various cultural developments in American history, or the (some might say over-) comprehensive nature of Kammen's writing, or maybe his erudition...whatever the reason, it is a compelling read.
Jennifer Jones Barbour
This is a great read for anyone interested in public memory and American history. Kammen is exhaustive in his examples, so be prepared to read not just one or two pieces of data to support his claims, instead it is more like five or six or seven or...
Anna
A bit too long (700+ pages), but it's an interesting overview of how traditions were created and recreated in American history.
Amy
I had to re-read this for an article revision...it's OK.
Mary
Mary marked it as to-read
Jan 29, 2015
J.
J. marked it as to-read
Jan 04, 2015
Susan
Susan marked it as to-read
Nov 29, 2014
José
José marked it as to-read
Nov 21, 2014
Miss
Miss marked it as to-read
Nov 10, 2014
fatma larbi aissa
fatma larbi aissa marked it as to-read
Nov 10, 2014
Ryan Coleman
Ryan Coleman marked it as to-read
Oct 18, 2014
Kate
Kate marked it as to-read
Oct 07, 2014
Thomas
Thomas is currently reading it
Oct 06, 2014
Mike
Mike added it
Aug 14, 2014
Isi
Isi marked it as to-read
Jul 09, 2014
Emma Earnst
Emma Earnst marked it as to-read
Jul 02, 2014
Kelly
Kelly marked it as to-read
Jun 26, 2014
Betsy Connor Bowen
Betsy Connor Bowen marked it as to-read
Jun 08, 2014
Anna
Anna added it
Mar 28, 2014
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »
Michael Gedaliah Kammen was a professor of American cultural history at Cornell University. He won the Pulitzer Prize (History, 1973) for his book, People of Paradox: An Inquiry Concerning the Origins of American Civilization.
More about Michael Kammen...
Visual Shock: A History of Art Controversies in American Culture The Origins of the American Constitution: A Documentary History People of Paradox: An Inquiry Concerning the Origins of American Civilization (Cornell Paperbacks) Digging Up the Dead: A History of Notable American Reburials American Culture, American Tastes: Social Change and the 20th Century

Share This Book