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Bunch of Amateurs: A Search for the American Character

By Jack Hitt
(Crown Publishing Group, $26)

Whether they were flying a kite in a storm or building a computer in a garage, people like Ben Franklin and Steve Jobs have driven American progress for centuries. Author Jack Hitt argues that the United States owes its success to freethinking tinkerers who have the right combination of skill and ignorance to try something new. Hitt visits amateurs at work — often in makeshift offices such as California warehouses and the Connecticut woods — and chronicles their ventures, showing that the culture of amateurism is what keeps innovation alive.

Opening Lines

“The one clear thing
I can say about Wednesday, the worst and most amazing day of my life, is this: it started out beautifully.”

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I Am an Executioner:
Love Stories
By Rajesh Parameswaran
(Knopf, $25)