How is it that a Big Mac is merely lunch in America and a symbol of cultural imperialism in France? Why did the September 11 terrorists choose United and American over any other airlines? Because they are branded, looming as larger-than-life symbols of America. Branding, to hear James Twitchell tell it, is nothing more than commercial storytelling - and it's become so ubiquitous that even institutions we thought were above branding have succumbed. And according to Twitchell, that's probably just fine. BRANDED NATION lays bare an American society where megachurches resemble shopping malls, where a university lives or dies on the talents of its image-makers, and where museums have turned to motorcycle exhibits and fashion shows to bolster revenue. Full of provocative anecdotes and penetrating analyses, Twitchell's parsing of the age of 'McCulture' is a triumph of great verve, sharp wit and, most striking of all, infectious optimism.