American History: A Very Short Introduction (Very Short Introductions)
Paul S. Boyer
Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub
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.
history. By 1860, 4.4 million African Americans lived in the United States, nearly 90 percent of them slaves. The story has many dimensions. Slavery undergirded the southern economy and roiled national politics. Slaves who resisted; slaves who sustained a vibrant culture against heavy odds; white Americans who confronted the contradiction between slavery and their professed political and religious principles—all comprise part of the story. The Civil War ended slavery, but the struggle for full
subsidized railroad construction, enacted high protective tariffs, and forcibly put down striking workers. One regulatory reform did gain traction: an “antitrust” movement reﬂecting fears that corporate consolidation, epitomized by the Standard Oil Trust (1879), was stiﬂing competition. The Sherman Antitrust Act (1890) outlawed “conspiracies in restraint of trade,” but enforcement was sporadic. Indeed, the ﬁrst signiﬁcant prosecution, in 1894, was against a labor organization: Eugene Debs’
Challenging this callous version of Social Darwinism, Lester Ward in Dynamic Sociology (1883) argued that the relevant evolutionary unit was not the individual but society itself. Societies progress not by maximizing competition and abandoning the “losers” to 71 1866–1900: Industrialization and its consequences Tycoons like Rockefeller, Huntington, and Morgan put their imprint on the age, inspiring hatred, hostility, and sometimes grudging admiration. Some endowed libraries, orchestras, and
which one side must win, the other lose. It offered a wholly militarized vision of America’s world mission earlier articulated by Woodrow Wilson and, long before that, by the New England Puritans. Actual conﬂict erupted not in Europe, as many anticipated, but in distant Korea. When Japan’s occupation of Korea ended in 1945, 108 Armistice talks soon began, but ﬁghting continued until 1953. Sometimes called “the forgotten war,” sandwiched between World War II and Vietnam, the Korean War
Rights Act of 1957, the ﬁrst federal law challenging racial discrimination since Reconstruction. Shepherded through the Senate by majority leader Lyndon Johnson, a Texas Democrat, and signed by President Eisenhower, this law targeted the stratagems by which southern blacks were barred from voting. Much remained to be accomplished, but this landmark act heralded further victories ahead. American History Johnson, a masterful politician, achieved impressive reforms, including his war on poverty,