The Surprising History of an American Anthem

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In 1918 Irving Berlin composed a show tune called "God Bless America." But he never would have imagined that his would eventually rise to the status of a nationally known patriotic anthem.

Written right after World War I and laying dormant for decades, this late-blooming but iconic American tune has endured largely in part to its versatility—from Kate Smith belting it out for the first time in 1938 to Whitney Houston warming up the crowd at a boxing match in 2000.

Sheryl Kaskowitz tells the story of its evolution and deep history in the new book, "God Bless America: The Surprising History of an Iconic Song." She explains the song's unexpected rise as a staple of American culture.