American History: A Very Short Introduction (Very Short Introductions)

American History: A Very Short Introduction (Very Short Introductions)

Paul S. Boyer

Language: English

Pages: 184

ISBN: 019538914X

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.




















reflected the delegates’ fear of tyranny—the danger they had just fought a war to resist. Dividing power between the federal government and the states, it also carefully parceled out the federal government’s own powers among three branches: the bicameral legislature; an executive branch headed by a president; and a judiciary with a Supreme Court chosen by presidential nomination with Senate approval. Counterbalancing restraints limited each branch’s power. The president could veto a congressional

until 1943. Skilled craft unions such as cigar makers, printers, and machinists disliked the Knights’ all-inclusive approach, and in 1886 a group of craft unions founded the American Federation of Labor (AFL). Under Samuel Gompers, the AFL accepted the capitalist system, focusing instead on higher wages and immigration restriction. On May Day, 1886, in an action coordinated by various labor and radical organizations, workers in major cities went on strike demanding an eight-hour work day. On May

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

evangelical believers continue to envision a special place for the nation in God’s cosmic scheme—or sadly conclude that the United States, corrupted by worldly pursuits, has forfeited the divine favor it once enjoyed. In semi-secularized form, notions of American exceptionalism seeped into the work of historians and textbook writers who presented highly selective versions of the nation’s history as a story of freedom, opportunity, and endless progress, blessedly free of the dark and exploitive

nuclear weapons from falling into dangerous hands. A 1991 U.S.-Russian treaty slashed each nation’s nuclear arsenals. With unexpected rapidity, the Cold War had ended. Reagan’s admirers credited his hard-line stance for this outcome; others attributed it to internal Russian circumstances. But new dangers loomed in 1990 when the Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein invaded oil-rich Kuwait. An international coalition assembled by Bush successfully expelled the invaders, but Bush resisted pressures to

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