Telling America's story in pictures is a particularly American thing to do. We're a visual people, and U.S. history can seem like an epic newsreel set to a jazz and rock-'n'-roll sound track.
Telling America's story in pictures is also something Time has been doing exceptionally well for all of our 84 years. And this week we are publishing America: An Illustrated History, a mesmerizing 272-page book that charts the great sweep of the American narrative in rich and indelible images.
Our editors pored over the archives of Time and Life magazines, the collections of the U.S. Library of Congress and of state and regional historical societies, and rarely seen private collections to produce a comprehensive visual chronicle of America's journey from its birth as an idea 400 years ago in the Jamestown settlement to how we vote on American Idol. The more than 600 images range from the intimate back rooms of history to the grandest of public moments. We see a young Teddy Roosevelt watching through a window as Abraham Lincoln's funeral cortege marches down New York City's Fifth Avenue as well as Martin Luther King Jr. transfixing hundreds of thousands on the Mall in Washington.
A photography book about U.S. history produced by Time is a perfect combination: photography is the most democratic of art forms, and Time has always been about explaining America to ourselves. "I contain multitudes," Walt Whitman boasted, and so does this book: a multitude of ideas, people, places, disasters and dreams. "The United States," Whitman wrote, "is essentially the greatest poem." We just combined that poetry with pictures.