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The American Way: A Geographical History of Crisis and Recovery

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Overview

The geography of contemporary U.S. political economy—the relocation of firms toward the sunbelt and abroad; the decline of manufacturing in the rust belt; and the rise of footloose producer services, NAFTA-inspired trade flows—has roots that run deep into our past. This innovative history by one of our most distinguished historical geographers traces their growth back to the seventeenth-century origins of liberalism, republicanism, and the regular financial crises by then endemic in capitalist societies. The problem the English and then the Americans faced was overcoming these crises while avoiding the political extremes of royal absolutism and later of socialism, communism, and fascism. The English way alternated between the doctrinaire ideologies and geographies of republicanism and liberalism. In 1776, by mixing elements of both, Americans created entirely new ideological alloys. Henceforth, policy regimes alternated between Democrats and Republicans and their distinctive fusions of liberal and republican ideology. Democrats combined publicanism's tenets of equality, diversified and volatile regions, and consumer revolution with liberalism's tenets of free trade, geographical consolidation, and dispersion (New Deal 'liberalism'). Republicans mixed liberalism's biases toward elites, regional specialization and stability, and producer revolution with republicanism's tilt toward nationalism, expansionism, and demographic concentration (Reagan's America). Muddying liberal and republican ideologies and geographies in ways that tempered their extremes, Americans would add one more twist. Thrice, upon the birth of the first, second, and third republics, they enlarged the geographical jurisdictions of the federal government, extended the domains of U.S. power, and redefined the nature of the state. Carville Earle defines these enlargements as the distributive and partisan 'sectional state' of the 1790s, the regulatory and redistributive 'national state' of the 1880s, and the neoliberal 'transnational state' of the 1980s. In tandem with the American dynamic of crisis-and-recovery, the author argues that these three 'states' have fashioned a dynamic and dialectical series of geographies that, as tools of ideology, have done much more to ensure the growth and viability of the U.S. economy, polity, and society.

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Editorial Reviews

H-Net: Humanities and Social Science Reviews Online
Will surely stand as a challenging and thought-provoking work in the years to come. . . . The abundance of historical data and argument [Earle] presents can only add to our understanding of American history. It is a fitting monument to his life's work as a historical geographer.
Economic Historical Services
[A] bold and sweeping work that attempts to provide an intellectual coherence to the patterns of historical geography from the colonial period to modern times.
— Sukkoo Kim
CHOICE
Earle provides depth and analysis toward a greater understanding of [U.S.] economic might. . . . Complemented by a liberal number of maps and a rich and varied bibliography. Recommended.
Eh.Net Economic History Services
The American Way is a provocative work that deserves our attention.
American Historical Review
This is a stimulating book that may leave readers less optimistic than the author. Earle helps us appreciate why the debate about republican and Whig origins of the American Constitution will likely be unending. Earle's provocative vision gives historians and historical geographers, as well as Americans and their global neighbors, some ideas to challenge and even more to ponder.
University Of Pittsburgh
In the The American Way Carville Earle advances a sweeping, even breathtaking in scope, synthesis of American political economy, which challenges scholars to rethink conventional interpretations of the nation's changing geographies associated with different periods of time.
— Edward K. Muller
Choice
Earle provides depth and analysis toward a greater understanding of [U.S.] economic might. . . . Complemented by a liberal number of maps and a rich and varied bibliography. Recommended.
John Agnew
A magnificent piece of work. Not only is the book highly original in its combining of political and economic themes in a geographical history of the American past, it is based on a thorough review of appropriate literature and a considerable amount of pathbreaking original empirical research.
Edward K. Muller
In the The American Way Carville Earle advances a sweeping, even breathtaking in scope, synthesis of American political economy, which challenges scholars to rethink conventional interpretations of the nation's changing geographies associated with different periods of time.
Economic Historical Services - Sukkoo Kim
[A] bold and sweeping work that attempts to provide an intellectual coherence to the patterns of historical geography from the colonial period to modern times.
H-Net
Will surely stand as a challenging and thought-provoking work in the years to come. . . . The abundance of historical data and argument [Earle] presents can only add to our understanding of American history. It is a fitting monument to his life's work as a historical geographer.
H-Net: Humanities and Social Science Reviews Online
Will surely stand as a challenging and thought-provoking work in the years to come. . . . The abundance of historical data and argument [Earle] presents can only add to our understanding of American history. It is a fitting monument to his life's work as a historical geographer.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780847687121
  • Publisher: Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, Inc.
  • Publication date: 2/28/2003
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Pages: 472
  • Product dimensions: 7.12 (w) x 10.40 (h) x 1.08 (d)

Meet the Author

Carville Earle (1942-2003) was Carl O. Sauer Professor of Geography at Louisiana State University.

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Table of Contents

Introduction 1 Introduction Part I 2 Theoretical Foundations Chapter 1 3 Space, Time, and the American Way Chapter 2 4 The Periodic Structuring of the American Past Chapter 3 5 The Dynamics of Policy Regimes: Liberalism, Republicanism, and Their Variants Chapter 4 6 Policy Regimes and Geographical Reconstructions Chapter 5 7 Regulatory Regimes and the Geographies of Producer and Consumer Revolutions Chapter 6 8 Spatial Enlargements in American Power: Sectional, National, and Transnational States Part II 9 Colonial Foundations Chapter 7 10 Backing into Empire Chapter 8 11 We are all English. That is one good fact.: Cromwell's Model Republican Geographies, 1630s-1680s Chapter 9 12 Lockean Geographies: Liberalism and Its Geographical Consequences, 1680s-1730s Chapter 10 13 Imperial Geographies: The Republican Restoration, 1740s-1780s Part III 14 National Geographies Chapter 11 15 Out with the Old, in with the New: The Reconstitution of the American States and Its Geographical Parameters Chapter 12 16 Space/Time: Four Spatial Variables across Two Centuries and Five Policy Regimes: The National Era 1780s-2000

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