James MacGregor Burns provides fresh, vivid, and creative insights into the first 60 years of US history in this first of a three-volume history of the United States. The narrative opens in western Massachusetts at the site of Shays' Rebellion. Then the scene shifts to events where the drama of American history unfolds - Philadelphia, New York, Boston, and New Orleans. The focus of the narrative includes the places where history is made, such as a formidable textile mill in Waltham, Mass., and the 941-acre plantation of the Rev. Charles Colcock Jones in Georgia. The text, however, is essentially a study of the ''vineyard of liberty.'' The framers of the Constitution were engaged in creating a document that would provide ''liberty with order, . . . safety and security, liberty of conscience, . . . property, liberty with a measure of equality, but above all liberty.''