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David Hanna's 'History Nation' details how jazz influenced U.S. culture and history

David Hanna is a history teacher at Stuyvesant High School in New York and acclaimed author
David Hanna
David Hanna is a history teacher at Stuyvesant High School in New York and acclaimed author

Author and Stuyvesant High School history teacher David Hanna's new book History Nation: A Citizens’ Guide to the History of the United States explores some political and social topics concerning American history, including the American Revolution, the Declaration of Independence, religious toleration, women's right to vote, slavery, the two world wars, and more.

The book also explores lighter subjects like entertainment and sports, with interesting facts about jazz, baseball, and more.

Hanna, a huge jazz fan, recently spoke to WBGO News Director Doug Doyle about his lates work.

Why did the author incorporate so many jazz references in History Nation?

"I think it's the highest art form that our society has produced to date. I think it should be featured as such. It's not that we haven't had great attainments in individual arts like paintings, sculpture, and certainly literature, but in music I think jazz holds a special place. That's particularly because of the improvisational nature of it and the fact that it's very organic and always becoming."

Hanna became exposed to jazz when he was a graduate student at NYU.

"I started tuning into 88.3. I think it was a Dexter Gordon tune and I was just smitten. Then I used to go to some of the clubs like the Blue Note. I must say the covers were a little steep for me back then because I didn't have much money, but it was worth it. It's just something that's grown over time. I appreciate it more and more. I think WBGO is a great resource for everybody. It's a wonderful station."

Hanna, a recipient of the New York Times "Teachers Make A Difference Award” has penned three critically-acclaimed books.

History Nation is the latest book from David Hanna
David Hanna
History Nation is the latest book from David Hanna

The San Francisco Book Review just wrote about his latest work:

"To read History Nation, you have to come prepared and be ready to open your mind to a more balanced view of history that might be different from what you learned in school or were told by mainstream media. David tells it like it is, with an objective perspective that highlights the ironies of popular ideologies and the flaws of some celebrated historical figures. For example, the book explores the hypocrisy of Thomas Jefferson declaring that "all men are created equal" while benefiting financially from the institution of slavery in his time. 



David Hanna says his goal in writing History Nation is much like what teachers try to do everyday in the classroom. He wants to highlight U.S. history's impactful moments in a condensed manner with a balanced perspective.

"It's funny I was talking to colleagues of mine at Stuyvesant and I'm sure they could all write a book of 60-thousand words if they all had the time. The core would all look similar but we'd all have a different take. It would be interesting to see what certain things were featured. I was trying to do something that would be accessible to people, everyone from age 12 to 102, and would not feature so much just politics and war, that's certainly an important part of our story, but also feature other aspects that in the sort of day to day life of what makes America actually America."

History Nation is the latest book from author and history teacher David Hanna
David Hanna
History Nation is the latest book from author and history teacher David Hanna

During interview, Hanna gives his perspective of such political figures and topics such as JFK, FDR and the Broadway hit-musical Hamilton.

You can SEE the entire interview with David Hanna here.

Doug Doyle has been News Director at WBGO since 1998 and has taken his department to new heights in coverage and recognition. Doug and his staff have received more than 250 awards from organizations like PRNDI (now PMJA), AP, New York Association of Black Journalists, Garden State Association of Black Journalists and the New Jersey Society of Professional Journalists.