Rebirth of a Nation: The Making of Modern America, 1877-1920by Jackson Lears
Pub. Date: 06/09/2009
Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
In the half-century between the Civil War and World War I, widespread yearning for a new beginning permeated American public life. Dreams of spiritual, moral, and physical rebirth formed the foundation for the modern United States, inspiring its leaders with imperial ambition. Theodore Roosevelt's desire to recapture frontier vigor led him to promote U.S. interests… See more details below
In the half-century between the Civil War and World War I, widespread yearning for a new beginning permeated American public life. Dreams of spiritual, moral, and physical rebirth formed the foundation for the modern United States, inspiring its leaders with imperial ambition. Theodore Roosevelt's desire to recapture frontier vigor led him to promote U.S. interests throughout Latin America. Woodrow Wilson's vision of a reborn international order drew him into a war to end war. Andrew Carnegie's embrace of philanthropy coincided with his creation of the world's first billion-dollar corporation, United States Steel. Presidents and entrepreneurs helped usher the nation into the modern era, but sometimes the consequences of their actions failed to match the grandeur of their hopes.
Award-winning historian Jackson Lears richly chronicles this momentous period when America reunited and began to form the world power of the twentieth century. Lears vividly captures imperialists, Gilded Age mavericks, and vaudeville entertainers, and illuminates the roles played by a variety of seekers, male and female, from populist farmers to avant-garde artists and writers to progressive reformers. Some were motivated by their own visions of Christianity; all were swept up in longings for revitalization.
In these years marked by wrenching social conflict and vigorous political debate, a modern America emerged and came to dominance on a world stage. Illuminating and authoritative, Rebirth of a Nation brilliantly weaves the remarkable story of this crucial epoch into a masterful work of history.
Table of Contents
Introduction: Dreaming of Rebirth 1
Chapter 1 The Long Shadow of Appomattox 12
Chapter 2 The Mysterious Power of Money 51
Chapter 3 The Rising Significance of Race 92
Chapter 4 The Country and the City 133
Chapter 5 Crisis and Regeneration 167
Chapter 6 Liberation and Limitation 222
Chapter 7 Empire as a Way of Life 276
Conclusion: Dying in Vain 327
Bibliographical Note 391
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This book takes up the topic of American political and cultural thought between the period in history bounded by the end of the Civil War and the creation of the League of Nations. Portrayed as a series of tensions (urban vs rural, labor vs industry, hawk vs dove, immigration and race relations) the author examines various topics that helped to propel the United States in to the "modern" world. I was particularly drawn to this book because I hoped it would help me to understand a period in history of the United States for which there seems to be relatively little written when compared to topics such as the Civil War and World War II. This book is not a "light read". I found it to be well written and the author sent me to the dictionary on several occasions (which I judge to be a good thing). The chapters tended to be rather long and there were a couple of occasions where I found my thoughts drifting but on the whole, the author kept my attention and I feel I have a better understanding of the period for my efforts.