For those who love history and enjoy biography, David M. Rubenstein has delivered a masterstroke with The American Story ... a delectable smorgasbord of U.S. history, covering 39 books discussed by 15 authors, some of whom have written more than one biography ... Rubenstein brings more than his b-for-boy-billions to this book. He has delved deeply into American history ... The Q&A format of this book is ingenious. Rubenstein, who’s mastered his subject matter, asks informed questions that stimulate impressive responses, and the 'patriotic philanthropist' is not above probing into the personal and provocative ... a creative concept that delivers delicious bite-size bits of American history to those who haven’t had the time or inclination to read widely. I devoured every page with immense pleasure.
Amiable yet informative, the interviews helpfully distill what are often massive tomes into an enjoyable collection of revelatory anecdotes, trivia, and bits of wisdom for modern legislators and citizens alike. American history buffs won’t find much new here, but this is a worthwhile read if only for enjoying professional storytellers in a friendly atmosphere.
We do not know what members of Congress took away from the Dialogues, but readers of this book will learn much about biographical method, historical curiosity, and American exceptionalism. With close reading they will also realize that there is no one American story, Rubenstein’s claim notwithstanding.