American Midnight: The Great War, a Violent Peace, and Democracy's Forgotten Crisis

American Midnight: The Great War, a Violent Peace, and Democracy's Forgotten Crisis

by Adam Hochschild
American Midnight: The Great War, a Violent Peace, and Democracy's Forgotten Crisis

American Midnight: The Great War, a Violent Peace, and Democracy's Forgotten Crisis

by Adam Hochschild


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Listen to Adam Hochschild in conversation about American Midnight on Poured Over: The B&N Podcast.


Notes From Your Bookseller

From the author of King Leopold’s Ghost and To End All Wars, American Midnight is an enthralling, at times terrifying rollercoaster of a read about a period when government power threatened lives and liberty in unprecedented ways and unexpected heroes rose out of the maelstrom. Democracy in America is a precarious experiment, and its fate has often hung in the balance, but as Adam Hochschild, makes plain, the years from 1917 to 1921 were a particularly insidious and brutal nadir. We may have “righted” course in various degrees, of but the legacies remain through today.

National Bestseller • One of the year's most acclaimed works of nonfiction

A BEST BOOK OF THE YEAR: New York Times, Washington Post, New Yorker, Chicago Tribune, Kirkus, New York Post, Fast Company

From legendary historian Adam Hochschild, a "masterly" (New York Times) reassessment of the overlooked but startlingly resonant period between World War I and the Roaring Twenties, when the foundations of American democracy were threatened by war, pandemic, and violence fueled by battles over race, immigration, and the rights of labor

The nation was on the brink. Mobs burned Black churches to the ground. Courts threw thousands of people into prison for opinions they voiced—in one notable case, only in private. Self-appointed vigilantes executed tens of thousands of citizens’ arrests. Some seventy-five newspapers and magazines were banned from the mail and forced to close. When the government stepped in, it was often to fan the flames.  

This was America during and after the Great War: a brief but appalling era blighted by lynchings, censorship, and the sadistic, sometimes fatal abuse of conscientious objectors in military prisons—a time whose toxic currents of racism, nativism, red-baiting, and contempt for the rule of law then flowed directly through the intervening decades to poison our own. It was a tumultuous period defined by a diverse and colorful cast of characters, some of whom fueled the injustice while others fought against it: from the sphinxlike Woodrow Wilson, to the fiery antiwar advocates Kate Richards O’Hare and Emma Goldman, to labor champion Eugene Debs, to a little-known but ambitious bureaucrat named J. Edgar Hoover, and to an outspoken leftwing agitator—who was in fact Hoover’s star undercover agent. It is a time that we have mostly forgotten about, until now. 

In American Midnight, award-winning historian Adam Hochschild brings alive the horrifying yet inspiring four years following the U.S. entry into the First World War, spotlighting forgotten repression while celebrating an unforgettable set of Americans who strove to fix their fractured country—and showing how their struggles still guide us today.  

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780358455462
Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date: 10/04/2022
Pages: 432
Sales rank: 47,267
Product dimensions: 6.00(w) x 9.10(h) x 1.50(d)

About the Author

ADAM HOCHSCHILD is the author of eleven books. King Leopold’s Ghost was a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award, as was To End All Wars. His Bury the Chains was a finalist for the National Book Award and won the Los Angeles Times Book Prize and PEN USA Literary Award. He lives in Berkeley, California.


San Francisco, California

Date of Birth:

October 5, 1942

Place of Birth:

New York, New York


A.B., Harvard College, 1963

Table of Contents

Prologue: No Ordinary Times 1

Part I

1 Tears of Joy 15

2 Place a Gun upon His Shoulder 37

3 The Cardinal Goes to War 55

4 Enchanted by Her Beauty 71

5 Those Who Stand in Our Way 81

6 Soldiers of Darkness 93

7 Shoot My Brother Down 107

8 A Wily Con Man; A Dangerous Woman 119

9 The Water Cure 135

10 Nobody Can Say We Aren't Loyal Now! 149

11 Cut, Shuffle, and Deal 159

12 Cheerleaders 171

13 Peace? 181

Part II

14 Another Savior Come to Earth 201

15 World on Fire 219

16 Sly and Crafty Eyes 233

17 On the Great Deep 247

18 I Am Not in Condition to Go On 259

19 In a Tugboat Kitchen 273

20 Men Like These Would Rule You 295

21 Seeing Red 305

22 A Little Man, Cool but Fiery 315

23 Policeman and Detective 329

24 Aftermath 339

Acknowledgments 359

Selected Bibliography 363

Notes 373

Index 407

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