Century Makers in 'Home of the Brave' Makers of the American Century by Martin Walker. Published by Chatto and Windus, Pounds 20

Article excerpt

AMERICA, land of the free and the home of the brave, imposes few restraints upon its 250 million citizens.

From the founding fathers and the Constitution of 1776 onwards, the individual and his freedoms take priority in the priorities on what is now the greatest nation on earth.

This remarkable and innovative history of 20th century United States follows the trajectories of some of those who have made it the extraordinary nation it is today.

The scope of Makers of the American Century reaches from the beginning of America's global presence, in the Spanish-American war of 1898, to the dominance, at the end of the 20th century, of its military force, economic systems, culture and complex contradictory values.

Yet this emergence on to the world stage would not have occurred but for the achievements of the pre-eminent individuals depicted in this fascinating study.

Together this cast of quintesentially American figures constitutes a character study of America during the last century; modern saints come no more American than civil rights activist Martin Luther King, the life of baseball player Babe Ruth exemplifies the American sports hero and John Steinbeck was the American voice. …