John Jakes, often called "the people's author" and "godfather of the historical novel, " has made American history come to life in his series The Kent Family Chronicles and The North and South Trilogy. Through these novels, Jakes conveys the sweep of American history, both its glory and its grim scenes, from the American Revolution to the opening moments of the 20th century. Never glossing over the nation's flaws (slavery, materialism, a double-edged Manifest Destiny), Jakes nevertheless affirms American values. This is the first full-length critical study of his work. It examines in detail Jakes' 13 major novels to date and assesses his methods as "America's history teacher."