Acclaimed historians Glenda Elizabeth Gilmore and Thomas J. Sugrue forge the panoramic and the personal into an authoritative narrative. They give us insightful accounts of the century's large events--war, prosperity, and depression, astute leadership and arrogant power, the rise and decline of a broad middle class.Read more...
Acclaimed historians Glenda Elizabeth Gilmore and Thomas J. Sugrue forge the panoramic and the personal into an authoritative narrative. They give us insightful accounts of the century's large events--war, prosperity, and depression, astute leadership and arrogant power, the rise and decline of a broad middle class. And they ground the history in the stories of everyday Americans such as William Hushka, a Lithuanian immigrant who makes and loses an American life; Stan Igawa, a Japanese-American who never doubts his citizenship despite internment during World War II; and Betty Dukes, a Wal-Mart cashier who takes on America's largest corporation over wage discrimination.
The history begins and ends in periods of concentrated wealth, with immigration roiling politics and racial divisions flaring. Its arc over those hundred-plus years raises key questions: how far has our democracy come? Were the postwar decades of middle-class prosperity and global power a culmination of the American Century or the exception in a long history of economic and political division? Gilmore and Sugrue frame these questions by drawing the illuminating connections characteristic of the best historical writing.
Publishers Weekly® Reviews
- Reviewed in: Publishers Weekly, page .
- Review Date: 2015-07-27
- Reviewer: Staff
Embodying the latest consensus interpretations and approaches of historians of the modern U.S., this book from historians Gilmore (Yale) and Sugrue (University of Pennsylvania) surveys the long 20th century in America. Its inclusion of many topics not usually taught in schools until very recently—including studies related to poverty, labor, African-Americans, immigrants, and women—makes it relevant to today’s readers. Yet the major topics it addresses are altogether conventional, beginning with Woodrow Wilson, continuing through the New Deal, and ending with Barack Obama’s presidency. The authors don’t flinch from offering unblushing left-liberal takes on the 13 decades they cover. The trouble is that the book’s audience isn’t clear. Designed in short sections (some a mere half-page long), the work has the aspect of a survey textbook fit for course assignments. It’s publicized as containing sketches of typical Americans, but these are short, rare, and discontinuous. They seldom affect the conventional inclusion of major historical figures and subjects that a book like this must cover. And “a nation in the making”? Didn’t that start in 1789? This is a solid, authoritative examination of a recognizable American nation but not strikingly different from others of its kind. (Oct.)