Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “Letters of a Nation” as Want to Read:
Letters of a Nation
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

Letters of a Nation

4.21 of 5 stars 4.21  ·  rating details  ·  179 ratings  ·  24 reviews
Letters of a Nation is a unique and timeless collection of extraordinary letters spanning more than 350 years of American history, from the arrival of the Pilgrims to the present day. Many of the more than 200 letters are published here for the first time, and the correspondents are the celebrated and obscure, the powerful and powerless, including presidents, slaves, soldi ...more
Paperback, 496 pages
Published January 5th 1999 by Broadway Books (first published October 1st 1997)
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 Letters of a Nation, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about Letters of a Nation

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 498)
filter  |  sort: default (?)  |  rating details
I skimmed through this book again earlier today, in an effort to figure out why Thomas Mallon's "Yours Ever" was such a damp squib (down to its nondescript title). Mallon would have done well to pay attention to the (relatively simple) elements that make this book so terrific:

1. Andrew Carroll includes entire letters, not just snippets.
2. The quality and variety of the letters included are phenomenal.
3. Carroll keeps his own editorializing to a minimum. His 8-page introduction is eloquent and su
Such a lovely and inspiring collection of letters, and Carroll is so brilliant at prefacing them with very short, succinct introductions. I also really appreciate that Carroll included letters from ALL types of Americans - white, black, Latino, Asian, men, women, rich, poor, Northern, Southern, conservative, liberal, etc. I took off a star because he could have included a few more from women, but generally he was really excellent about including letters from diverse writers.

It's a wonderful col
It isn't often that I read non-fiction, but I picked this up in the National Post Office Museum in Washington DC. These are letters collected from all walks of American life, grouped together by letters of war, family, love, hope and faith. I was particularly entertained by several of Benjamin Franklin's letters, especially one on why young men should look to be with older women, and one that he wrote on death and grieving. This is also where you can find those very moving letters sent by Civil ...more
Mr. Carroll has done a phenonmenal job collecting some of the most riveting and well-written letters in American history. From the famous to the obscure, "Letters of a Nation" takes you on a fascinating literary journey across our national landscape with themes like love and loss, war and peace, slavery and freedom, darkness and light...

This anthology is one for your bookshelf and assuredly is one you'll refer to time and time again.

Barbara Osterwisch
My family used to cringe when every Fourth of July I pulled out this book and requested that each person select a letter to share with the family. Cringe, but occasionally they went along… It is a great way to generate conversations about who we are as a nation, where we've come from, how our collective identity was and continues to be formed by the diverse make-up of our citizens. It bears remembering, though, that to be included here one must have had an education, access to writing material, ...more
Jada Randall
Letters of a Nation, Andrew Carroll
Letters of a Nation by Andrew Carroll is a book that most history lovers will enjoy. It focuses on 203 Famous Americans letters, and why the wrote them. The letters are broken down by time, era, and category. Some people could call this non-fiction novel but I’d refer to it as a historic novel.
The begging letters are the letters of arrival, expansion, and exploration. John Winthrop, while on the Mayflower wrote a letter to his wife Margret back in England d
Jason Logue
This is a fantastic book that I'm sad I put off reading for so long. Mr. Carroll did an excellent job of collecting such a diverse selection of letters covering all of the American experience from the first puritans to rock stars; war veterans to conscientious objectors; feminists and civil rights leaders, and many others. I think we have a tendency to look at history as this vast sea of movements, institutions, revolutions, and themes, but this book provides incredibly personal and intimate loo ...more
This is a wonderful collection of letters that I received for my high school graduation. They include some very famous letters, including the complete text of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.'s Letter from Birmingham Jail and General Sherman's letter to the people of Atlanta, to funny notes that but for a whim, might have been relegated to the dustbin of history, like Mark Twain's letter to the gas company complaining about their bad service, or a letter from Henry Truman to a local theater critic, c ...more
It was an interesting read. I feel letters are a lost art these days - with email//texting taking over as the norm.
Marla Glenn
This collection has some wonderfully funny letters. I especially like the one John Steinbeck wrote to his editor while he was working on East of Eden.
Dec 17, 2012 Doug added it
Haven't finished it yet, but enjoying it very much. It's much like reading old newspapers and magazines......reading history as it happens, rather than from the point of view of knowing how everything turned out....they didn't know what would happen. It really puts events of today and how we look at them in perspective......finished. It is a wonderful book, interesting, funny, sad.....a good read.
History at its finest. When you can visualise people and place them in the events of time, when you can glimpse what they were feeling in their hearts and minds, then you can glimpse history at its best. I still pick it up from time to time and read some of these stirring letters. My favourite is Nathaniel Hawthornes love letter to his wife, heart melting.
Aug 26, 2007 Mindy rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: everyone
Shelves: adult-nonfiction
This is a collection of letters to and/or from Americans from the beginning of the nation until late in the 20th century. There are different themes throughout the book. The most entertaining section is the humor portion. Some of those letters are a riot!! This is a great primary source of information about the history of the United States.
The fact that it took me almost 4 weeks to finish is in no way an indication of this book's value. I learned more in these 400 pages than in any American History class. Ever. Real people, real words, real letters from the heart. Fascinating historical accounts and humorous, endearing love letters -- this book has them all.
Very, very interesting. This has compiled letters from various individuals throughout history. Some are well-known people; others are strangers. There is everything from John Adams to Saddam Hussein to Bill Clinton. I highly recommend it, as it adds a whole new dimension to historical events and figures
Just starting reading but it is an awesome anthology! I had heard a review of it on NPR years ago and had to have it in my own library! Excellent! One of those books you can pull off your shelf whenever you need an enjoyable, educational & often insightful read!
Nov 29, 2007 Graceann rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: History Lovers
Shelves: history
Andrew Carroll compiles some of the most moving letters ever written in this indispensable volume. I raced through it, not able to turn the pages quickly enough, then returned to my favorite letters in order to savor them. Highly recommended.
A wonderful compilation of some of the most important letters written by (mostly) highly literate and articulate men and women in our country's history.
I highly recommend this collection of letters from people as varied as John Adams and Martin Luther King Jr. It's reading history from a personal level.
I adore this book and can go back to it time and time again. This would make a perfect gift for someone who likes reading and enjoys history.
Jul 17, 2008 Karen marked it as to-read
Shelves: non-fiction
I love reading and writing letters, and I'm always interested in improving my letter writing. This sounds like it would give great inspiration.
Apr 28, 2008 Ashley rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Patriots/Activists
Shelves: enjoyed, us-history
I often pick this up when I'm most frustrated with the US/Western countries. The perspective is humbling and the foresight inspiring.
Jul 17, 2008 Anna rated it 5 of 5 stars
Shelves: nonfic
the front cover of the original hardback says; "A collection of Extraordinary American letters," and that about covers it
Stephine Yoshikawa
I read his years ago and just unpacked it from storage. It's truly timeless. There's something in here for everyone. Enjoy!
J marked it as to-read
Jul 31, 2015
Veronica marked it as to-read
Jul 22, 2015
Sharon marked it as to-read
Jul 12, 2015
Hannah Wood
Hannah Wood marked it as to-read
Jul 08, 2015
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 16 17 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »
  • David Brinkley
  • The Portable Thomas Jefferson
  • The Dawn's Early Light
  • On Witchcraft
  • Under Fire: An American Story - The Explosive Autobiography of Oliver North
  • Women's Letters: America from the Revolutionary War to the Present
  • Notes of Debates in the Federal Convention of 1787 Reported by James Madison
  • Letters of the Century: America 1900-1999
  • The White House Years
  • Presidential Campaigns: From George Washington to George W. Bush
  • Inside the Company: CIA Diary
  • Marriage to a Difficult Man: The Uncommon Union of Jonathan & Sarah Edwards
  • Lives of the Signers of the Declaration of Independence
  • The Crisis of the Old Order 1919-33 (The Age of Roosevelt, Vol 1)
  • George Washington: Young Leader
  • The Civil War: Strange & Fascinating Facts
  • The English Constitution
  • Oscar Wilde: A Life in Letters
War Letters: Extraordinary Correspondence from American Wars Here is Where: Discovering America's Great Forgotten History Operation Homecoming: Iraq, Afghanistan, and the Home Front, in the Words of U.S. Troops and Their Families Behind the Lines: Powerful and Revealing American and Foreign War Letters---And One Man's Search to Find Them Grace Under Fire: Letters of Faith in Times of War

Share This Book