The Gilded Age is one of the most crucial periods in American history. During this era, Americans found themselves no longer living in a rural republic, but rather in an industrial world power. It was a time when the nation had to redefine itself and attempt to construct responses to the many questions that the Civil War had raised and left unanswered. New Spirits: Americans in the Gilded Age, 1865-1905 provides a comprehensive look at this fascinating period in our nation's history. While these years are often viewed as a time when our country displayed a gilded façade that hid a rotten core, Rebecca Edwards moves beyond this idea to seek other, more complex perspectives. She asserts that this epoch was full of contradictions. It was a time when land stolen from Native Americans provided security and comfort to desperate immigrants and mining brought the hope of fabulous riches for prospectors, along with the reality of industrial labor and unpredictable profits. African-American land ownership grew while full equality remained elusive and the ranks of the poor grew as quickly as the ranks of the prosperous. Many long-awaited triumphs dissolved into bitter confusion while others produced broad, tangible gains. However, Edwards does not dwell only on stories of tragedy and injustice, but also on lessons of humor, endurance, and achievement. Featuring documents, photographs, illustrations, and graphs on such topics as homes, violence, work, and well-known figures, the book is divided into three parts. Part I covers the years up to the depression of 1893, Part II explores the depression, its aftermath, and the years 1896-1901, and Part III offers a concluding section on the era as a whole.