Beginner America: To understand the U.S. at the beginner’s level, read David Halberstam, William Manchester and Stephen E. Ambrose for your histories, and then James A. Michener and James Fenimore Cooper for your novels. That’s a good place for beginners; the elementary curriculum.
But you don’t want to only be a beginner, do you?
Advanced America: To understand the U.S. at an advanced level, read Daniel J. Boorstin to understand society, Kevin Starr and Howard Zinn for your histories, and Donna Tartt or T. C. Boyle for your novels.
You’re advanced now. Way to go! Good going. Oh, wait. Do you want to go higher still?
Super Advanced America: Now… to be a U.S. pro, read H. L. Mencken and Hunter S. Thompson to understand society, Barbara W. Tuchman for your histories, and Mark Twain for your novels. And only listen to Scott Joplin, Danny Elfman and John Williams.
You do want to be at the pro level, don’t you? Happy Americaing. July 4 is only three weeks away.