More American Icons

American Icons: John Henry

Friday, February 01, 2013

In the ballad, told countless times over more than a century, the railroad worker John Henry wins a race against a new steam-powered drill, but the victory is Pyrrhic: he collapses, saying “Give me a cool drink of water before I die.” “Did he win? Did he lose?,” wonders novelist Colson Whitehead ...

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American Icons: The Outsiders

Friday, February 01, 2013

Susan Eloise Hinton was a teenager when she wrote The Outsiders, the story of rival gangs in Tulsa, Oklahoma. She used the pen name “S.E.” so readers wouldn’t know she was a girl, and bought a Camaro with the earnings. “Some of [the novel’s] faults, like its over-the-top emotions and ...

Slideshow: How The Outsiders became a movie

Comments [6]

American Icons: Because I Could Not Stop for Death

Friday, February 01, 2013

Emily Dickinson is one of those writers whose life is as famous as her writing: after she died, having spent much of her life writing at home, her sister found nearly two thousand poems in her bureau. "Because I Could Not Stop for Death," Dickinson’s fantasy of getting picked up by the grim reaper ...

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American Icons: I Love Lucy

Friday, November 09, 2012

It set the model for the hit family sitcom. Lucy's weekly antics and humiliation entered the DNA of TV comedy: from Desperate Housewives to 30 Rock – writers can’t live without Lucy.

Comments [4]

American Icons: The Wizard of Oz

Friday, October 19, 2012

Kurt Andersen follows the yellow brick road through America’s favorite story and discovers places in the Land of Oz more wonderful, and weirder, than you ever imagined.

Comments [21]

American Icons: Warhol's Soup Cans

Friday, September 21, 2012

Around 1961, Andy Warhol started painting cans of Campbell's soup, in all 32 varieties. He liked to tell people that his mother made him Campbell's soup and that's why he painted it. The soup cans are probably the most recognizable images in American art, and Warhol intended ...

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American Icons: Television's Dallas

Friday, May 25, 2012

Dallas has been off the air for 20 years but it's still considered one of the most successful television shows in history. Next month the cable network TNT will launch a new season of the series. We sent Julia Barton to Southfork Ranch (and beyond) to understand ...

Slideshow: Southfork — At Home and Abroad

Comments [3]

American Icons: The Outsiders

Friday, May 04, 2012

Susan Eloise Hinton was a teenager when she wrote The Outsiders, the story of rival gangs in Tulsa, Oklahoma. She used the pen name “S.E.” so readers wouldn’t know she was a girl, and bought a Camaro with the earnings. “Some of [the novel’s] faults, like its over-the-top emotions and ...

Slideshow: How The Outsiders became a movie

Comments [11]

American Icons: Monticello

Friday, February 17, 2012

This is the home of America’s aspirations and its deepest contradictions. Thomas Jefferson was as passionate about building his house as he was about founding the United States. Yet Monticello was a plantation worked by slaves, some of them Jefferson’s own children.

Comments [25]

American Icons: Moby-Dick

Friday, December 30, 2011

In this Peabody Award-winning show, Kurt Andersen sets sail in search of the great white whale.

Comments [48]

American Icons: The House of Mirth

Friday, November 11, 2011

Lily is a smart single woman, a beauty in demand on the party circuit. But Lily is nearing thirty, and struggling to manage money, friendships, and romance. In The House of Mirth, Edith Wharton examined the dangerous compromises facing a woman who wants to set her own destiny ...

Comments [3]

American Icons: Nirvana's Nevermind

Friday, September 16, 2011

Twenty years ago this month, a new sound blasted the cobwebs out of every radio station in America. It was angry and bracingly cynical; the album featured a naked baby swimming toward a dollar bill dangling on a fish hook, and it went #1 in the blink of an eye. In the words of music scholar Joshua Clover ...

Video: "Smells Like Teen Spirit"

Comments [15]

The Autobiography of Malcolm X

Friday, August 26, 2011

When Malcolm X was assassinated at 39, his book nearly died with him.  Today it stands as a milestone in America’s struggle with race.

Comments [36]

American Icons: I Love Lucy

Friday, August 05, 2011

It set the model for the hit family sitcom. Lucy's weekly antics and humiliation entered the DNA of TV comedy: from Desperate Housewives to 30 Rock – writers can’t live without Lucy.

Comments [18]

American Icons: Buffalo Bill's Wild West

Friday, July 15, 2011

He was the most famous American in the world – a showman and spin artist who parlayed a buffalo-hunting gig into an entertainment empire. William F. Cody’s stage show presented a new creation myth for America.

Comments [33]

American Icons: Dixie

Friday, April 15, 2011

It’s been a century-and-a-half since a minstrel tune called “Dixie” debuted in New York.  The song went viral, and soon North and South alike were whistling “Dixie.”  With the outbreak of the Civil War, “Dixie” became an anthem of the antebellum way of life.  And today we are still fighting over “Dixie.”

Comments [9]

American Icons: Television's Dallas

Friday, February 18, 2011

"Dallas" has been off the air for 20 years but it's still considered one of the most successful television shows in history. Studio 360 listener Laura Detre nominated “Dallas” on our American Icons website, and we liked her idea so much, we went to Southfork Ranch to understand how Dallas changed the way the world sees America.

Comments [6]

American Icons: The Great Gatsby

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Kurt Andersen explores how episodes of false identity, living large, and murder in the suburbs add up to the great American novel.

Comments [19]

American Icons: Jimi Hendrix's Star-Spangled Banner

Friday, November 19, 2010

Using a whammy bar and a fuzz box, Hendrix captured the sound of bombs falling overseas and screaming protestors.  “I didn’t think it was unorthodox,” Hendrix said. “I thought it was beautiful.”

Comments [16]

American Icons: Georgia O'Keeffe's Skull Paintings

Friday, November 12, 2010

“The men were all talking about the great American novel, the great American play,...the great American everything,” said Georgia O’Keeffe. “So I thought . . . I’ll make it an American painting.”

Comments [10]