Fascinating book offers a wealth of information about our national symbol

“American Eagle, A Visual History of Our National Emblem” By Preston Cook; Published by Goff Books, 2019. $75 for Hardcover; ISBN 978-1-941806-28-9. American Eagle is available wherever books are sold –Amazon.com; Barnes & Noble and local independent book sellers.

Those who are collectors of our “National Emblem,” the bald eagle, will want to read and look through “American Eagle, A Visual History of Our National Emblem.” Written by Preston Cook, the large, coffee-table style book includes outstanding pictures and graphics of a myriad of bald eagles on paper, decorations, postcards, pins, advertising, stamps and many, many more uses.

Broken down into eight chapters and spanning 245 pages, American Eagle is a comprehensive journey with the U.S. emblem. The chapters included are: The Official Eagle; Politics and Protest; Culture and Entertainment; Art and Decoration; as well as Military and War; Commerce; The Natural Eagle; and Travel and Transportation. History buffs may remember that Benjamin Franklin, one of our founding fathers, wanted to have the turkey as our national symbol. Thankfully, he was voted down on that idea!

All of the chapters feature beautiful color artwork depicting the many ways we have used the eagle, and one of the most interesting chapters I found was the use of the eagle in the military and war. Everything from company orders and drums to decorated swords, knives and epaulets are featured in this chapter. And the graphics of our national symbol are excellent with vivid color photos of military companies; letterhead and postcards. A very impressive photo in this chapter includes “The Human American Eagle,” which was taken in 1918 (WWI) with 12,500 officers and men at Camp Gordon, in Atlanta Georgia.

Since it was first named as our national symbol, the eagle has continued to stand for freedom, liberty and democracy in the United States. It is also a fierce bird who is not afraid to do battle with enemies for its territory or young. That is likely another reason that the eagle was chosen as our symbol. A full-page photo of an eagle shredding the flags of Japan and Nazi Germany (1942) is featured, which sends another powerful message. A photo of the oil painting, done by Ralph Iligan, was featured on the cover of “Liberty” magazine, also in 1942.

Throughout this impressive tome, the celebrated eagle is featured again and again on items such as license plates, road signs and street signs. Throughout the U.S. there must be hundreds (if not thousands) of towns, rivers, streams and roads named for eagles.

In 1969, Neil Armstrong, Buzz Aldrin and Michael Collins took our national symbol to the moon and back. And when he announced from the moon in the Lunar module “Eagle,” Neil Armstrong simply said, “The Eagle has landed.” Several pages of this book provide images and information about that historic event.

At the back of the book Cook has included a chronology of the eagle in the U.S. In 1492, the first entry, it was estimated that there were between 100,000 and 500,000 in what would become the lower 48 states. The chronology lists events and news items that pertain to eagles from the late 1400s right up through to 2018.

Back jacket information about Preston Cook, the author of this book, states that he has devoted his time to “all things” American eagle. “For more than 50 years Cook has amassed and meticulously organized a collection of more than 25,000 eagle items. He has served on several government commissions and 20 boards of directors, including for the American Bald Eagle Foundation, the Oceanic Society and the Point Reyes Bird Observatory. He is a member of the Audubon Society, the National Eagle Center and the Sons of the American Revolution, among many other organizations.

“Cooks collection will be donated to the nonprofit National Eagle Center and proceeds from the sales of this book will also be donated to the National Eagle Center to help fund the museum that will house his collection.”

Cook lives in Minnesota on the banks of the Mississippi River, which, not surprising, is a major flyway for the bald eagle.

For lovers of eagles, collectors of eagle items, and those interested in the history of our country, this book offers an outstanding compilation of beautiful pictures and graphics depicting our majestic national symbol.

Thankfully we now have laws protecting the bald eagle as it is one of the most important symbols of our nation.