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Red, White And True: The Great American Biography

by Nathan Rabin
Jul 2, 2009

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Nathan Rabin Cover: 'Johnny Cash: The Biography' Cover: 'Yes I Can: The Story of Sammy Davis, Jr.'

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What does it mean to be a great American? Ask five of your countrymen, and you'll get five different answers.

For me, it means having some of the qualities that make our nation worth celebrating — like resilience, determination and optimism.

Country legend Johnny Cash, bon vivant George Plimpton and consummate entertainer Sammy Davis Jr. don't have much in common. But their lives have much to tell us about what it means to be a great American.

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'Yes I Can'

Yes I Can: The Story of Sammy Davis, Jr., by Sammy Davis Jr., Farrar Straus & Giroux, paperback, 611 pages, $35

'George, Being George'

George, Being George: George Plimpton's Life as Told, Admired, Deplored, and Envied by 200 Friends, Relatives, Lovers, Acquaintances, Rivals — and a Few Unappreciative Observers. by Nelson W. Aldrich, hardcover, 432 pages

Nathan Rabin is the longtime head writer for The A.V. Club, the entertainment section of The Onion and the author of The Big Rewind.

'Johnny Cash: The Biography'

Johnny Cash: The Biography, by Michael Streissguth, paperback, 368 pages

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