How "in tune" are you?
With U.S. history, that is.
It's hard not to catch yourself humming as you read "In Tune With America," a new book penned by former Spokane congressman George Nethercutt and Tom McArthur, Nethercutt's press secretary when he was in Congress.
Due on bookstore shelves Wednesday, it's a history book without pictures, a history lesson illustrated, rather, with music.
Our national story is reflected in popular songs from each era, with many original lyrics.
It tells the stories behind the songs, illustrating the moods and flavors of the times when the tunes rose to popularity.
Many songs will be familiar to readers, some not. But the words alone reflect what the authors believe: "Songs are the poetry of American history."
Published by Spokane-based Marquette Books, "In Tune with America" begins with the American Revolution and runs through the year of Barack Obama's election.
In the final chapter, the book provides several sobering reasons for the year 2008 to be remembered in history - more dangerous foreign affairs, the economic collapse and the fact that a growing number of Americans lack knowledge about history, economics, public policy and government.
The book's purpose stems from that last historical observation.
When Nethercutt spoke to members of the Coeur d'Alene Rotary in March, he said fewer Americans understand how the U.S. came into existence, what the founding principles and documents are and what sacrifices were made to achieve freedom and liberty.
"Americans are less knowledgeable about what makes us great, what makes our country special and exceptional," Nethercutt said. "If you don't know that, how do you know what to perpetuate?"
Nethercutt, a Republican who served from 1995 to 2005 as Washington's 5th Congressional District Representative, has his own place in U.S. history.
He is remembered for his defeat of House speaker Tom Foley at the polls in 1994.
A longtime advocate for fostering civics literacy through education, Nethercutt founded the George R. Nethercutt Foundation in 2008.
The non-partisan, nonprofit organization was created to support students interested in economics, history, politics and civic leadership.
The Nethercutt Foundation awards fellowships to college students, providing five months of academic, civics-aimed education, and then brings them to Washington, D.C., for two weeks.