News | September 6, 2023

Books that Shaped America Primetime Book Series

C-Span/Library of Congress

The 10-part series – a joint original feature production for fall 2023 from C-SPAN and the Library of Congress - will trace America's history by exploring masterpieces in literature that have had, and still have today, a major impact on society. 

The series which C-SPAN will air LIVE on Mondays, starting September 18 at 9 p.m. ET for 10 weeks will feature:

  • September 18 - Common Sense by Thomas Paine (1776)
  • September 25 - The Federalist by Alexander Hamilton, James Madison & John Jay (1788)
  • October 2 – History of the Expedition Under the Command of Captains Lewis and Clark (1814)
  • October 9 - Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, an American Slave by Frederick Douglass (1845)
  • October 16 - The Common Law by Oliver Wendell Holmes (1881)
  • October 23 - Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain (1884)
  • October 30 – My Antonia by Willa Cather (1918)
  • November 6 – Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neal Hurston (1937)
  • November 13 – Free to Choose: A Personal Statement by Milton & Rose Friedman (1980)
  • November 20 – The Words of Cesar Chavez by Cesar Chavez (2002)

The new series was inspired by a list of 100 'Books that Shaped America' and an exhibition curated at the Library of Congress 10 years ago based on the results of a public survey about books that provoked thought, controversy and change throughout American history. Viewers of the series this fall will be able to weigh in with their own thoughts about books that had an impact on the nation. 
The audience will see first edition copies of famous works authored by Thomas Paine, Frederick Douglass, Mark Twain, Zora Neale Hurston and others, plus rare photos, maps, correspondence, and other items that highlight these books and the times during which they were written. 
“Over the course of 10 weeks this fall, ‘Books that Shaped America’ will shine a light on a diverse group of books and authors whose skill with the written word and powerful storytelling left a lasting impression on our nation,” said Librarian of Congress Carla Hayden. “These 10 books are just a start. Throughout the series, we will invite Americans to join the conversation and share their perspectives about more books that shaped America.”

Audience calls will be incorporated into each program. Longtime C-SPAN executive producer of BookTV Peter Slen will host each episode of the series.