This admirably ambitious book seeks to distill a generation's worth of scholarship into a fresh history of "the long 20th century" from the 1890s to the present…[These United States] offers a provocative, resolutely un-triumphalist, and frequently unsettling rethinking of the American century. This is revisionist history at its best…its rich documentation…compel[s] a chilling reconsideration of both the past and the future…
These United States: A Nation in the Making, 1890 to the Present
These United States: A Nation in the Making, 1890 to the Present
A powerful history of the making and unmaking of American democracy and global power, told in sweeping scope and intimate detail
In the winter of 1936, Franklin Roosevelt remarked in a fireside chat, “I do not look upon these United States as a finished product. We are still in the making.” Certainly apt in the midst of the Great Depression, the idea of a nation in the making still resonates today as we measure the achievements and shortcomings of our democracy. Over the twentieth century, Americans have worked, organized, marched, and fought to make the nation's ideals a reality for all. This shared commitment to achieving an American democracy is the inspiring theme of These United States.
Acclaimed historians Glenda Elizabeth Gilmore and Thomas J. Sugrue forge the panoramic and the personal into an authoritative narrative. They give us insightful accounts of the century's large events-war, prosperity, and depression; astute leadership and arrogant power; the rise and decline of a broad middle class. And they ground the history in the stories of everyday Americans such as William Hushka, a Lithuanian immigrant who makes and loses an American life; Stan Igawa, a Japanese-American who never doubts his citizenship despite internment during World War II; and Betty Dukes, a Wal-Mart cashier who takes on America's largest corporation over wage discrimination.
The history begins and ends in periods of concentrated wealth, with immigration roiling politics and racial divisions flaring. Its arc over those hundred-plus years raises key questions: How far has our democracy come? Were the postwar decades of middle-class prosperity and global power a culmination of the American Century or the exception in a long history of economic and political division? Gilmore and Sugrue frame these questions by drawing the illuminating connections characteristic of the best historical writing.
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Embodying the latest consensus interpretations and approaches of historians of the modern U.S., this book from historians Gilmore (Yale) and Sugrue (University of Pennsylvania) surveys the long 20th century in America. Its inclusion of many topics not usually taught in schools until very recently—including studies related to poverty, labor, African-Americans, immigrants, and women—makes it relevant to today’s readers. Yet the major topics it addresses are altogether conventional, beginning with Woodrow Wilson, continuing through the New Deal, and ending with Barack Obama’s presidency. The authors don’t flinch from offering unblushing left-liberal takes on the 13 decades they cover. The trouble is that the book’s audience isn’t clear. Designed in short sections (some a mere half-page long), the work has the aspect of a survey textbook fit for course assignments. It’s publicized as containing sketches of typical Americans, but these are short, rare, and discontinuous. They seldom affect the conventional inclusion of major historical figures and subjects that a book like this must cover. And “a nation in the making”? Didn’t that start in 1789? This is a solid, authoritative examination of a recognizable American nation but not strikingly different from others of its kind. (Oct.)
"Written by two of our most innovative historians, this beautifully realized volume stimulates thought, informs with great clarity, and advances the craft of historical synthesis."
"This vigorous narrative shows how the debates and decisions of the twentieth century shape those we face in the twenty-first… Combines a novelistic grasp of individual stories with the broad sweep of change across time."
"A tour de force: brilliantly conceived, elegantly written, and consistently insightful."
"A pleasure to read, These United States offers a consistent interpretation of our history, explaining our strengths and the origins of our problems."
"Ambitious, wise, and briskly told…essential reading for anyone who cares about the course and fate of the nation."
"An invigorating, inspiring, much-needed exploration of the ‘American Century.’"
"This marvelous book weaves together a sweeping yet strikingly intimate narrative of the nation’s century-long struggle to make real its founding promise. It is learned, passionate history, expertly told."
"[A] timely, remarkable new survey of America since 1890 . . . required reading."
Coauthors Gilmore (Defying Dixie) and Sugrue (The Origins of the Urban Crisis) neatly distill more than 120 years of U.S. history, focusing on two primary themes: economic inequality and racial injustice. The account is bookended by two gilded ages, the first in the late 1800s and the second the present day. The authors conclude by questioning Martin Luther King Jr.'s assertion that "the arc of the moral universe bends toward justice." They examine foreign policy in as much as it affected domestic affairs and are forced to deal with complex events in a short space (World War I is covered in only 24 pages, for example). However, Gilmore and Sugrue effectively make the point that strong government intervention is necessary to make American society more just, both economically and racially. The authors' intimate portrayal of common Americans provides a poignancy that keeps readers interested. Especially effective is the story of Lawrence Merschel, a young man who died in the Vietnam War. VERDICT Sure to be enjoyed by those who appreciate Howard Zinn's A People's History of the United States. [See Prepub Alert, 4/20/15.]—Michael Farrell, Reformed Theological Seminary, Orlando, FL
A concise, thematic book of American history that underscores the constant, ongoing tug between the forces of self-interest and those of social responsibility. Acclaimed scholars Gilmore (History/Yale Univ.; Defying Dixie: The Radical Roots of Civil Rights: 1919-1950, 2008, etc.) and Sugrue (History/New York Univ.; Not Even Past: Barack Obama and the Burden of Race, 2010, etc.) team up to present the unfolding of the so-called American century, from the great promise displayed at the Columbian Exposition in Chicago in August 1893 to the presidency of Barack Obama. Presented in a tidy, compelling fashion, the themes that reoccur constantly are the side-by-side evolution of a sense of a survival-of-the-fittest approach to American society—e.g., in the accomplishments of the great self-made entrepreneurs such as John Rockefeller—and the growth of a progressive movement committed to the benefits of organized labor, women's suffrage, and income and racial equality. Moving chronologically, the authors capture the forces that spurred America toward world leadership during this century, through the Wilsonian idealism of self-determination and the sweeping New Deal policies of Franklin Roosevelt, as well as the precipitous, strong-armed military actions in the Spanish-American War, Vietnam War, and later wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. The authors provide excellent coverage of social currents that emerged from the great crisis of World War II ("In at Least Modest Comfort: Postwar Prosperity and Its Discontents") that then galvanized the enormous social change of the 1960s. Keeping the chapters short and broken up into palatable segments, the authors devote one entire chapter to the fractious upheaval that occurred between 1968 and 1974. Moreover, to keep things readable, the authors often interweave stories of regular individuals who experienced or chronicled some historical glimpse in time—e.g., William Frank Fonvielle and his alarming firsthand look at new forms of segregation springing up in the Deep South in 1890. A terrifically accessible, up-to-date educational tool.
|Publisher:||Blackstone Audio, Inc.|