American History: A Very Short Introduction (Very Short Introductions)
Paul S. Boyer
In a miracle of concision, Paul S. Boyer provides a wide-ranging and authoritative history of America, capturing in a compact space the full story of our nation. Ranging from the earliest Native American settlers to the presidency of Barack Obama, this Very Short Introduction offers an illuminating account of politics, diplomacy, and war as well as the full spectrum of social, cultural, and scientific developments that shaped our country.
Here is a masterful picture of America's achievements and failures, large-scale socio-historical forces, and pivotal events. Boyer sheds light on the colonial era, the Revolution and the birth of the new nation; slavery and the Civil War; Reconstruction and the Gilded Age; the Progressive era, the Roaring Twenties and the Great Depression; the two world wars and the Cold War that followed; right up to the tragedy of 9/11, the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, and the epoch-making election of Barack Obama. Certain broad trends shape much of the narrative--immigration, urbanization, slavery, continental expansion, the global projection of U.S. power, the centrality of religion, the progression from an agrarian to an industrial to a post-industrial economic order. Yet in underscoring such large themes, Boyer also highlights the diversity of the American experience, the importance of individual actors, and the crucial role of race, ethnicity, gender, and social class in shaping the contours of specific groups within the nation's larger tapestry. And along the way, he touches upon the cultural milestones of American history, from Tom Paine's The Crisis to Allen Ginsberg's Howl.
American History: A Very Short Introduction is a panoramic history of the United States, one that covers virtually every topic of importance--and yet can be read in a single day.
already ﬁrmly enshrined in the American pantheon, eulogized by fellow Virginian Henry Lee as “First in war, ﬁrst in peace, ﬁrst in the hearts of his countrymen.” But mourning for the hero of the Revolution could not conceal the political divisions roiling the new nation. The Constitution does not mention political parties; indeed, the founders abhorred the very idea. Washington’s 1796 Farewell Address to the American people denounced “factions” promoted by “artful and enterprising” politicians.
and Society Ethics (1902) drew on her settlement-house experiences to argue that “democracy” in an industrial age must encompass not only the right to vote but also public efforts to ameliorate the plight of society’s most desperate and vulnerable members. The journalist Herbert Croly in The Promise of American Life (1909) renewed Alexander Hamilton’s call for an activist government—but now in the interests of all, not just the business class. Mobilizing locally, reformers from New York to San
University president, won the presidency. The Socialist Eugene Debs garnered 897,000 votes, underscoring the widespread revulsion against uncontrolled capitalist power. 79 1900–1920: Reform and war Recognizing industrialization’s toll on nature as well as on society, Roosevelt championed national parks and natural-resource conservation. Protecting millions of acres of public land from unregulated logging and mining, he also backed the National Reclamation Act (1902) designating income from
demanded more aggressive challenges. 80 So, too, did W. E. B. Du Bois, a Harvard-educated historian and professor at Atlanta University (founded by abolitionists in 1865 to educate African Americans) in his pathbreaking work The Souls of Black Folk (1903). In 1909 Du Bois and other African Americans, with white supporters, including a grandson of abolitionist William Lloyd Garrison, founded the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP). Through its publication, the
uncertain future But 2008 brought a sharp recession, caused by reckless practices by mortgage lenders, Wall Street securities ﬁrms, stock-ratings companies, and lax federal agencies. Stock prices tumbled; productivity stalled; joblessness surged. The federal deﬁcit mushroomed, worsened by Bush-era tax cuts and two unfunded wars. In 2010, after contentious debate, a divided Congress passed a health-care reform bill with provisions to trim costs and extend health insurance to all. Republicans,