America, Empire of Liberty

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America, Empire of Liberty is the title of a radio series and book by historian David Reynolds about American history. The title is taken from Thomas Jefferson's speeches (he used the phrase "empire of liberty" at least twice).[1][2]

Radio series[edit]

America, Empire of Liberty
Running time 15 minutes
Home station BBC Radio 4
Host(s) David Reynolds
Air dates 2008 (2008) to 2009 (2009)
No. of series 3
No. of episodes 90

The radio series was broadcast in 90 15-minute segments over three series of 30 parts each.[3] on BBC Radio 4.

Reynolds narrated, while actors read letters, diaries and other historical sources.

The radio series won the Voice of the Listener & Viewer Award for the Best New Radio Programme of 2008. It also received a Sony Radio Academy Award Nomination in 2009 and was shortlisted for the Orwell Prize, 2010)


America, Empire of Liberty: A New History
David Reynolds - America, empire of liberty a new history.jpeg
Author David Reynolds
Language English
Subject U.S. history
Publisher Allen Lane
Pages 671
ISBN 978-1-84614-056-3

America, Empire of Liberty: A New History is a book on the history of the United States by author published in the United Kingdom in January 2009[4] by Penguin and in the United States in October 2009.[5]


Max Hastings reviewing the book for The Times said "Journalism takes over from history in the last pages of the book. But that is a quibble [...] This is the best single-volume account of the world's greatest society for many years."[6] The Guardian reviewed it as 'book of the week' and DD Guttenplan called it "a timely but flawed book" saying "on the topics I know a bit about, Reynolds is often unreliable. Finally, Reynolds is just cloth-eared when it comes to American culture."[7]

In The Independent Frank McLynn said "readable, never dull, full of anecdotes, mini-biographies and arresting juxtapositions [...] but as a general overview of US history, Reynolds's book is chock-full of faults",[8] The Daily Telegraph's Alan Marshall said "Reynolds mostly succeeds in incorporating unfamiliar detail from the archives of ordinary life without losing his narrative thread. He has an enthralling tale to tell and he relates it in plain lively terms. And on the whole he is right to trust the sheer wealth of the material, familiar as its broad outline is, to hold us in its power unadorned."[9] And The Financial Times' Edward Luce said "It is to Reynolds’ great credit that his book helps make sense not just of America but also of the Bushes. Now is a good time to read it."[10] "Let us not mince words," observed historian Joseph Ellis in The National Interest. "In my judgment, this is the best one-volume history of the United States ever written."[11]


  1. ^ Monticello's Jefferson quotations - gives two examples of Jefferson saying 'Empire of Liberty'
  2. ^ The Times - book review - asserts that Jefferson inspired the book title.
  3. ^ The Telegraph - America, Empire of Liberty
  4. ^ Amazon UK page - gives UK publishing date.
  5. ^ page - gives US publishing date
  6. ^ The Times - review
  7. ^ The Guardian - review
  8. ^ The Independent - Review
  9. ^ Daily Telegraph - review
  10. ^ Financial Times - review
  11. ^ National Interest - review

External links[edit]