The problems and ideologies that define American culture were formed in the 19th century.
Authors sometimes put deeper meanings into their stories, but really, it's the reader who decides.
Since 2011, Button Poetry has offered a large number of powerful poetic performances that reveal the plurality of individual stories in the United States.
Walt Whitman is perhaps America's most admired poet. His work, now praised for its themes of equality and democracy, was once shunned for its experimental verse and discussion of sexuality.
He was criticised for leaning on the crutch of his guitar, but if Dylan leaned on anything, it was his love of poetry.
To mark Independence Day, an Australian perspective on why - 180 years on - Alexis de Tocqueville's classic political text is a must-read.