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American Empire: The Rise of a Global Power, the Democratic Revolution at Home 1945-2000
     

American Empire: The Rise of a Global Power, the Democratic Revolution at Home 1945-2000

by Joshua B. Freeman, Eric Foner (Editor)
 

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A landmark history of postwar America and the second volume in the Penguin History of the United States series, edited by Eric Foner

In this momentous work, acclaimed labor historian Joshua B. Freeman presents an epic portrait of the United States in the latter half of the twentieth century, revealing a nation galvanized by change even as conflict

Overview

A landmark history of postwar America and the second volume in the Penguin History of the United States series, edited by Eric Foner

In this momentous work, acclaimed labor historian Joshua B. Freeman presents an epic portrait of the United States in the latter half of the twentieth century, revealing a nation galvanized by change even as conflict seethed within its borders. Beginning in 1945, he charts the astounding rise of the labor movement and its pitched struggle with the bastions of American capitalism in the 1940s and '50s, untangling the complicated threads between the workers’ agenda and that of the civil rights and women’s movements. Through the lens of civil rights, the Cold War struggle, and the labor movement, American Empire teaches us something profound about our past while illuminating the issues that continue to animate American political discourse today.

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"Ambitious and imaginative"  -- Kirkus Reviews

"A supremely intelligent narrative." -- Michael Kazin

"Compellingly readable and often passionate." - The Nation

"The best grand synthesis of postwar U.S. history we have." -- Mike Wallce, Pulitzer-Prize winning coauthor of Gotham

Library Journal
Historical surveys of the era since World War II are not rare, and many are quite good, e.g., Randall Bennett Woods's Quest for Identity: America Since 1945 and James T. Patterson's two magisterial volumes contributing to the "Oxford History of the United States." Nevertheless, Freeman has crafted a solidly researched and well written account, the fifth volume in this series from Penguin. The book deserves attention for its able synthesis of the vast array of literature on various aspects of a remarkably complex era. Freeman (history, Queen's College-CUNY; Working-Class New York) charts the nation's postwar economic growth; the struggles of African Americans, women, and other minorities to attain a political voice; and the nascent American empire's global impact as it confronted Communism and, later, Middle East tensions, culminating in the horror of 9/11. Freeman traces the development of these themes through the decades, showing how they became defining challenges as the century headed towards conclusion. Of course, the arrival of the new century has not signaled the resolution of these issues, many of which are just as troubling as they were 50 years ago. VERDICT An important book for both general and scholarly audiences.—Ed Goedeken, Iowa State Univ. Lib., Ames
Kirkus Reviews
A terrifically useful wide-lens survey of the United States in the last half of the 20th century. Freeman (History/Queens Coll. and CUNY Graduate Center; Working-Class New York: Life and Labor Since World War II, 2000, etc.) has full command of his vast material, fashioning a structured history that is both readably general and restrained of scholarly matter as well as nicely specific regarding meaty information--e.g., he names important court cases and offers occasional quotes by contemporary observers and newsmakers. The author demonstrates how postwar economic growth helped spur the great process of democratization that placed America in the first rank among nations in terms of standard of living and basic rights for all citizens. Yet, along with the rise of consumerism, globalism and prosperity, the power shifted from the public to the private realm, specifically corporate. From the 1970s onward, Freeman shows how incipient economic inequality, unharnessed military spending and burgeoning political conservatism threatened to check much of that social progress at the end of the century. The expansion of government with the New Deal promoting socially benevolent programs generated an ongoing debate about whether government should be a muscular arm of progressive reform in the fashion of FDR or more restrained, the latter conservatism given new energy by Barry Goldwater's ascendancy in 1960. Freeman comes down fairly hard on Kennedy's "hyperbolic rhetoric" and "obsession with manhood and virility," while the sections on LBJ and the "democratic revolution" of the 1960s, including civil-rights legislation and the antiwar movement, are masterly and thorough. With the dawn of the '70s, the country moved from "dreams to nightmares," from equal rights for women and gays toward an utter contempt for government amid Watergate, urban decline, manufacturing shutdowns, stagflation, new corporate models, deregulation and Reaganism. A liberal-minded but still evenhanded primer for all students of U.S. history.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780143123491
Publisher:
Penguin Publishing Group
Publication date:
08/06/2013
Series:
Penguin History of the United States Series , #2
Pages:
544
Sales rank:
439,605
Product dimensions:
8.92(w) x 5.82(h) x 1.07(d)

Meet the Author

Joshua B. Freeman is a professor of history at Queens College and the Graduate Center of CUNY. He is the author of Working-Class New York. He lives in New York City.

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