On Looking for Lincoln, Knopf, 2008

This is a remarkable and highly original book, one that skillfully interweaves text and pictures to tell two closely related stories: the discovery of facts about Abraham Lincoln’s life, and the exploration of his place in American memory.

—David Herbert Donald
On I Wish I’d Been There, ed. Byron Hollinshead, Doubleday, 2006

Certain moments are predictable…. But a few are delightfully offbeat, such as Philip B. Kunhardt III witnessing Jenny Lind’s American debut in 1850. Jenny Lind, like Fanny Kemble, her contemporary on the British stage, brimmed with sex appeal but had qualities that went far beyond that. “At age thirty Jenny Lind was an independent woman—unmarried, wealthy, very much in charge of her own life,” a status many American women could only dream of. She had spent countless hours in her girlhood communing with birds, perhaps lending to the birdlike quality reporters cited when covering her. “I could find no mortal who could in the least degree satisfy my demands. Therefore, I sing after no one’s method—only, as far as I am able, after that of the birds.”

—“Book Alert,” 2006
On PBS’s Mandate: The President and the People, 2005

Last night’s premier of “Mandate” treated the subject with the seriousness and range that it deserved. Writer-producer Philip Kunhardt managed to create the impression of a conversation, full of unresolved issues and dissonant insights, while sustaining a central narrative. Overall, it was far superior to the normal didacticism of history broadcasts, leaving it up to each viewer to muse on the present implications of the story he tells.

—Bruce Ackerman, Yale University, 2005
On PBS’s Freedom: A History of US, 2003

A courageous attempt to encourage a reaffirmation [of the nation’s purpose]…this eight hour series tracks the tragically incomplete quest for freedom from Plymouth Rock to the World Trade Center and beyond…. Many viewers will no doubt take issue with this account of the nation’s imperfections. But the series’ observations, carefully wrought, warrant attention.

—Ron Wertheimer, The New York Times, January 10, 2003
On PBS’s Echoes from the White House, 2001

Whether for private home use or for public teaching, “Echoes of the White House” is a sterling reincarnation of over 200 years of the history of the structure and inhabitants of the Presidential Mansion as told in the actual words of former Presidents, First Ladies, Servants and Visitors…. Highly recommended for all ages.

—Buyzillion Review
On The American President, Riverhead Books, 2000

The American President has the looks of a coffee-table book, the smarts of an academic tome, and the readability of a novel, full of interesting and little-known facts about the first 41 chief executives of the United States…. For anyone interested in the presidency, politics, or history The American President is a wonderful library addition.

—Linda Killian, Amazon
On P. T. Barnum: America’s Greatest Showman, Knopf, 1995

A vivid portrayal of P.T. Barnum, genius entrepreneur, friend of the clergy, inveterate self-promoter, and thoroughly contradictory individual who one moment profited off the exoticism of others, the next spoke in favor of the abolishment of slavery. Includes over 500 photographs, engravings, and archival color lithographs of the man and his entire entourage.

—Book News
On Lincoln: An Illustrated Biography, Knopf, 1992

This illustrated biography gets us as close to Lincoln as static images and the approximations of words allow…. It is a good place to begin to learn about the distinction between credulity and belief. Lincoln had no patience with the former, and thought it the demagogue’s craft to play on the people’s susceptibility to fear and false hope. But he knew equally well that the latter—a genuine belief in the demanding idea of democracy based on equality—was indispensable to the future of the Republic. His life rebukes the disbelievers.

—Andrew Delbanco, The New York Times, Dec. 20, 1992
On ABC’s Lincoln, 1992

“Lincoln” is, in many respects, a direct descendant of [Ken Burns’s] “The Civil War.” But where “The Civil War” may have been a masterstroke in terms of the visual representation of history, “Lincoln” is a far more personal statement. It is, in effect, the culmination of one family’s intense, five-generation-long interest in the 16th President.

—Bill Carter, The New York Times, December 20, 1992