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This Was America: True Accounts of People and Places
     

This Was America: True Accounts of People and Places

by Oscar Handlin
 

This is a twentieth-century reissue of a distinguished book—a collection of the impressions and experiences of European travelers to America over three centuries, revealing much about the changing viewpoints of Europeans toward the United States.

Oscar Handlin has added a new preface, written from the perspective of 1969. He points out that in 1919 when

Overview

This is a twentieth-century reissue of a distinguished book—a collection of the impressions and experiences of European travelers to America over three centuries, revealing much about the changing viewpoints of Europeans toward the United States.

Oscar Handlin has added a new preface, written from the perspective of 1969. He points out that in 1919 when This Was America was first published, strains among the wartime allies had already appeared, but they had not weakened the memory of joint efforts to defeat Fascism. Anti-Americanism was not yet widespread.

Europeans generally have tended to see in the United States developments which they either disliked intensely or cherished devotedly, and quite naturally their accounts of travels through this country have reflected their feelings. But, however biased, their reports help bring into perspective the troubles of the present as they provide valuable insights into the problems of the past.

The authors of these papers came from many walks of life. They were businessmen, land speculators, merchants, government officials, exiles, artists, students, and priests. What they wrote has a directness of perception and expression that allows both the Old World temper and the New World atmosphere to come vividly alive. Their subjects are as varied as the interests that led them to America.

Here are observations on the country's physical beauty and spaciousness as well as on its social and governmental institutions. More significant, however, are the observations on Americans as individuals, their domestic manners, their ways of life, their adaptations to the new continent and the new society. Oscar Handlin gives us the very cream of their comments, preceded by an introductory paragraph and so organized as to tell an orderly and connected story of American social history. The result is a well founded, entertaining commentary on the United States.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780674884700
Publisher:
Harvard University Press
Publication date:
12/28/1949
Pages:
616
Product dimensions:
6.69(w) x 9.84(h) x (d)

Meet the Author

Oscar Handlin, a Pulitzer Prize-winning historian, is Carl M. Loeb University Professor, Emeritus, Harvard University. He is the editor of This Was America.

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