USA to Z: A Celebration of American Popular Culture

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Press: Cumberland House Publishing (June 1, 2004)
Author Name:Jones, Ray


What do Raggedy Ann dolls, grizzly bears, Texas papershell pecans, and country music legend Patsy Cline have in common? They are all wondrously American phenomena, as much a part of our national heritage as the flag. 
What about the Golden Gate Bridge, Wurlitzer jukeboxes, sizzling hot Louisiana pepper sauce, and comedian Jack Benny? The connection is the same -- they are in USA to Z.
One of the most compelling and delightful popular culture treasuries published in decades, USA to Z tells the story of Ivory Soap and the Model-T Ford, probes the intricate glories of Navajo rugs and Frank Lloyd Wright architecture, and celebrates the genius of Benny Goodman and Humphrey Bogart.
Organized from A to Z, it is a whimsical collection of more than 350 of our country9s finest products, richest traditions, and most inspiring people.
Readers will learn, laugh, and -- as a bonus -- find out how they can personally enjoy each and every one of the great things mentioned in the book.
How to make a Dagwood sandwich.
How to buy a little Radio Flyer wagon for their kids.
Where to see a dancing armadillo.
Just keep turning the pages.
It's probably here.


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Comment List (Total:2)

  •     I liked reading the book. It has a good cross section of American cultural topics from Statue of Liberty to Texas Chili, from Red Woods in California to Boston beans. The book is good for those who want to get a picture of American culture or those who want to learn more. First, you may think that you know everything about Statue of Liberty or Golden Gate Bridge until you read those sections. It is a fun easy reading.
  •     Though lacking the scope or lavish illustrations of some similar volumes I've reviewed (Iconic America: A Roller Coaster Ride Through the Eye-Popping Panorama of American Pop Culture,1,001 Reasons to Love America,America A to Z: People, Places, Customs, and Culture), this compact trade paperback is still a treasure house of some 130 people, places, and things ranging from Aaron (Henry, the baseball player) to Zoo (the National in Washington, DC) that are "all wondrously American phenomena...that we still enjoy today." Jones provides brief essays on a broad variety of subjects--"Raggedy Ann dolls, grizzly bears, Wurlitzer jukeboxes, Carlsbad Caverns, Model T Fords, Stetson hats, Georgia peaches, Humphrey Bogart, Patsy Cline...sizzling hot Louisiana pepper sauce, Airstream trailers, drive-in movies, Radio Flyer wagons, Navajo rugs, the Golden Gate Bridge, John Steinbeck, Jack Benny, and the legend of the 'Edmund Fitzgerald'...M&Ms and Ivory Soap, the movies of Old Hollywood and mystery novels set in old New York, bluegrass music and Benny Goodman jazz, the legend of John Henry and Charlie Brown's 'Peanuts' gang, wild Maine blueberries and Idaho potatoes..." Of course, as with any collection of this kind, he's sure to have left out a few things *you* will consider iconically American. And he does include a few notable errors: he claims that L. Frank Baum's children's books "are very hard to come by these days" (certainly the early editions are, but Dover Books has brought them all back, complete with original illustrations, in sturdy trade-size paperbacks, and you're sure to find them listed here on Amazon), the formula he gives for Lydia Pinkham's Vegetable Compound quite leaves out the alcohol which other sources ascribe to it, and he gives the name of the creator of Raggedy Ann as "John Gruella," when anyone who has ever seen a Raggedy Ann book knows that he signed them "Johnny Gruelle." But if there are only three such in 300-plus pages, that's not a bad batting average, especially when dealing with a subject matter so diverse.

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