The Reckless Decade: America in the 1890s

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Overview

"Large-scale economic change, job uncertainty, the politics of extremism and paranoia, arguments over America's international role, racial conflicts. Sound familiar?"(Fritz Lanham, Houston Chronicle) Just as we do today, Americans of the 1890s faced changes in economics, politics, society, and technology that led to wrenching and sometimes violent tensions between rich and poor, capital and labor, white and black, East and West. In The Reckless Decade, H. W. Brands demonstrates that we can learn a lot about the contradictions that lie at the heart of America today by looking at them through the lens of the 1890s.

The 1890s saw the closing of the American frontier and a shift toward imperialist ambitions. Populists and muckrakers grappled with robber barons and gold-bugs. Americans addressed the unfinished business of Reconstruction by separating blacks and whites. Booker T. Washington, W. E. B. Du Bois, and other black leaders clashed over the proper response to continuing racial inequality. Those on top of the economic heap—Rockefeller, Carnegie, and Morgan—created vast empires of wealth, while those at the bottom worked for dimes a day. Brands brings all this to life in a vivid narrative filled with larger-than-life characters facing momentous challenges as they worked toward an uncertain future.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
The decade of the 1890s is quite compelling; it represents the high flowering of an older, quaint America together with social, political, and intellectual trends that would move the nation rapidly into the modernity familiar to us today. Brands (history, Texas A&M) has produced a workmanlike survey of the period, concentrating on traditional economic and political topics. The familiar emphases include labor strife, slum life, the robber barons, and the Spanish-American War. Readability (and research value) would have been enhanced by greater concern for intellectual and social issues. Emergent communication and transportation technologies, the purity and temperance movements, and the changes in popular entertainment are valid scholarly topics that would have added interest. Brands's book will be useful as a term-paper source but will probably not attract many general readers.-Fritz Buckallew, Univ. of Central Oklahoma Lib., Edmond
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780226071169
  • Publisher: University of Chicago Press
  • Publication date: 3/28/2002
  • Edition description: 1
  • Pages: 390
  • Sales rank: 351,305
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 9.00 (h) x 0.80 (d)

Meet the Author

H. W. Brands holds the Melbern G. Glasscock Chair in American History at Texas A&M University. He is the author, most recently, of The First American: The Life and Times of Benjamin Franklin and The Strange Death of American Liberalism.

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Table of Contents

Prologue: Coming of Age, or Coming Apart? 1
1. The Lost Frontier 7
2. In Morgan We Trust 42
3. How the Other Half Lived 90
4. Blood on the Water 128
5. The Matter with Kansas 177
6. Plessy v. Crow 215
7. Cross of Gold, Tongue of Silver 254
8. Democratic Imperialism 287
Epilogue 336
Bibliography 352
Index 361
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