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Before he became a best-selling author with the acclaimed World War II epic Ghost Soldiers, Hampton Sides established a reputation as a sly observer of the contemporary American scene, writing for Outside, The New Yorker, Men’s Journal, DoubleTake and other magazines. For two decades, he has traveled the continent exploring the America that thrives just behind the surface of our mainstream culture. In this collection of 30 pieces, Sides gives us a fresh, alluring, and at times startling America brimming with fascinating subcultures and bizarre characters who could live nowhere else.

We follow Sides as he crashes the redwood retreat of an apparent cabal of powerful military-industrialists, drops in on the Indy 500 of bass fishing and joins a giant techno-rave at the lip of the Grand Canyon. We meet a diverse gallery of American visionaries—from the impossibly perky founder of the Tupperware party to Indian radical Russell Means to skateboarding legend Tony Hawk. We retrace the route of the historic Bataan Death March with veterans from Ghost Soldiers and hunt for lost tribes of Israel with Mormon archaeologists in Mexico.

Sides also examines the nation that has emerged from the ashes of September 11, recounting the harrowing journeys of three World Trade Center survivors and deciding at the last possible minute not to "embed" on the Iraqi frontlines with the U.S. Marines. Americana gives us a sparkling mosaic of our country today, in all its wild and poignant charm.


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