America the Beautiful: A Story in Photographs Hardcover book review Leave a comment

America the Beautiful showcases the stunning spaces closest to our nation’s heart–from the woods in the Great Appalachian Valley that Davy Crockett once called home to the breathtaking sweep of California’s Big Sur coast to the wilds of Alaska. It also celebrates the people who have made this country what it is, featuring a wide range of images including the Arikara Nation in the early 1900s and scientists preparing for travel to Mars on a Hawaiian island. Culled from National Geographic’s vaunted photo archives, spanning a period of more than 130 years, this provocative collection depicts the splendor of this great nation as only National Geographic can, with a dramatic combination of modern and historical imagery–from the creation of architectural icons like the Golden Gate Bridge and Lady Liberty to the last of the country’s wild places preserved in our national parks.

One can never go wrong with a book full of photographs take by the talented men and women who shoot for National Geographic. In a time when travel is mostly done in our dreams a book like this is just what is needed to plan for when visiting is more open.

The book is separated into four chapters, breaking the country and it’s possessions into regions. It opens with the West and Pacific then moves to the East and Mid Atlantic then to the South and the Carribean and ends with the Midwest and Central Plains. I felt like I was back in the fifthwheel traveling around the country. It was such a joy to revisit some of the places I have been in these glorious photos from such talented photographers. I am sharing photos from the book from the three states I have lived in during my life. The first being from Montana; it is from Yellowstone – one of my favorite places on Earth.

The photos are from all different eras – not just from now. There is a stunning black and white photo representing South Dakota. You get to experience each state or territory with a glimpse into what makes it special but as the book covers so much territory it is somehow never enough – especially when you are looking for the places you love most. You want more. But taking the book as a whole is a very uplifting experience as there is so much beauty to be found.

If you have had the opportunity to travel around this amazing country this book will remind you of all that is out there. For those that are still waiting to explore the book will surely whet your appetite to get out and see the beauty that awaits.

There are also comments from memorable residents of each state expressing what their home state means to them. A state is so much more than the reputation it carries. My former home of New Jersey is a prime example; most folks believe it’s an adjunct of New York. They tend to forget the rural southern part of the state. Oh, they remember “the shore” now and then but still, it’s more city and less farm. But New Jersey IS the Garden State.

America the Beautiful would make an awesome gift for anyone who loves this country, beautiful photos and dreaming about where they might visit when things get better.


With a structure inspired by the original song “America the Beautiful,” this book recognizes what makes our nation great, region by region. And all 50 states and six territories of the U.S. are honored with 50 words from celebrities, historians, activists, conservationists, and politicians who call America home. Profound and inspiring, this is a book for everyone who has ever marveled at the beauty of the United States.

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