Life in America


by Marshall B. Davidson.Houghton Mifflin, 2 vols. $20.00.
These two extremely handsome volumes, published in association with the Metropolitan Museum of Art, are an exciting venture into a new kind of graphic history, in which pictures and text are equal partners in an alliance. 250,000 words and 1200 illustrations — photographs, drawings, cartoons, reproductions of paintings, water colors, and lithographs — simultaneously tell and depict how Americans have lived since Columbus discovered the continent. This is a social history, concerned with folkways, culture, manners, and only incidentally with politics. It is organized into such divisions as “East Goes West,” “Industrial America,”“America at Leisure,” “The Urban World"; and subdivisions such as “California Gold Rush” or “The Rise of Sports.” The illustrations have been imaginatively chosen and they are encyclopedic in range — Football at Yale, 1807; the beginnings of the Mail Order Business at Montgomery Ward, 1878; Registering for the Draft, 1917; the St. Valentine Day Massacre, 1929.