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H.W. Brands: American History From 1945 Through 2010

Andrew Walsh
08/12/2010 at 8:00 p.m.

Historian H.W. Brands says he knows more about Benjamin Franklin than anyone who actually met him. Brands has read every letter and article Franklin ever wrote. None of Franklin's contemporaries had that advantage.

But there's a gap in Brands' knowledge that he'll never be able to fill; He doesn't know what Franklin's voice sounded like, what his handshake felt like, or what kind of presence he brought to a dinner party. That's the problem historians face when they write about a time period they didn't live through themselves.

Brand's new book focuses on an era he did live through. It's called "American Dreams: The United States Since 1945." Starting with what he believes to be the "golden years" of post–World War II America and ending with today's post–9/11 years, Brand's latest work navigates a period of great change for the world's remaining superpower. And it does so with an intimacy brought about through Brand's personal connection to the times.

H.W. Brand visited Town Hall Seattle on July 20, 2010 to share stories from his book and talk about how he approached his work.

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