The thirteen-stripe, fifty-star flag is as familiar an American icon as any that has existed in the nation's history. Yet the history of the flag, especially its origins, is cloaked in myth and misinformation. Flag: An American Biography rectifies that situation by presenting a lively, comprehensive, illuminating look at the history of the American flag from its beginnings to today.
Journalist and historian Marc Leepson uncovers scores of little-known, fascinating facts as he traces the evolution of the American flag from the colonial period to the twenty-first century. Flag sifts through the historical evidence to---among many other things---uncover the truth behind the Betsy Ross myth and to discover the true designer of the Stars and Stripes. It details the many colorful and influential Americans who shaped the history of the flag.
"Flag," as the novelist Nelson DeMille says in his preface, "is not a book with an agenda or a subjective point of view. It is an objective history of the American flag, well researched, well presented, easy to read and understand, and very informative and entertaining."
"Our love for the flag may be incomprehensible to others, but at least we now have a comprehensive guide to its unfolding."
---The Wall Street Journal
"The fascination of history is in its details, and the author of Flag: An American Biography knows how to find them and turn them into compelling reading.... This book brings out the irony, humor, myth, and behind-the-scenes happenings that make our flag's 228-year history so fascinating."
---The Saturday Evening Post
"Timely and insightful."
---The Dallas Morning News
Leepson notes that "no country in the world can match the intensity of the American citizenry's attachment to the... Stars and Stripes." He goes on to chart the evolution of the flag and Americans' relationship with it in its detail-packed history. Despite the famous image in George Washington Crossing the Delaware, Leepson (Saving Monticello) says, the general's boat did not display the Stars and Stripes; the Continental Congress hadn't yet determined what the American flag would be. And "flagmania," as a 19th-century newspaper termed it, began only with the start of the Civil War. Embraced by the Ku Klux Klan, burned by Vietnam War protestors, the Stars and Stripes was again embraced in the wake of 9/11 as a ubiquitous symbol of American solidarity. Such was the revived flagmania, Leepson relates, that the flag was used to sell everything from contact lenses to disposable diapers. From reverence to kitsch, Americans' attitudes to their flag and its mythology have changed over the years, and Leepson does a creditable job of recounting those changes just in time for July 4.