The Reader's Companion to American History

Front Cover
Houghton-Mifflin, 1991 - History - 1226 pages
The Reader's Companion to American History offers a fresh, absorbing portrait of the United States from the origins of its native peoples to the nation's complex identity in the 1990s. Covering political, economic, cultural, and social history, and combining hundreds of short descriptive entries with longer evaluative articles, the encyclopedia is informative, engaging, and a pleasure to read. The Reader's Companion is sponsored by the Society of American Historians, an organization dedicated to promoting literary excellence in the writing of biography and history. Under the editorship of the eminent historians John A. Garraty and Eric Foner, a large and distinguished group of scholars, biographers, and journalists -- nearly four hundred contemporary authorities -- illuminate the critical events, issues, and individuals that have shaped our past. More than a reference book to be consulted simply for the dates or details of an event, the Companion offers a history of ideas. It distinguishes itself from conventional encylcopedias by featuring several hundred thematic articles. A chronological account of immigration, for example, is complemented by a conceptual article on ethnicity. Similarly, the Bull Moose party and the Know-Nothings, examined in individual entries, are also placed within a larger context in an article on third parties in American politics. And readers consulting entries on specific religious groups, leaders, and movements will be led to an article offering an overview of religion in America. Linking discrete facts, dates, and events through its interpretive essays, the Reader's Companion presents the overarching themes and ideas that have animated our historical landscape. Over the past twenty years, the study of history has undergone a metamorphosis. Political history, once the primary avenue for exploring the past, has given way to the "new social history." Focus has shifted from key events and leaders to everyday life in America, including the history of the family, women and the work force, race relations, and community life. The Reader's Companion to American History reflects this broader vision of our past. Interweaving traditional political and economic topics with the spectrum of America's social and cultural legacies -- everything from marriage to medicine, crime to baseball, fashion to literature -- the Companion is certain to engage the curiosity, interests, and passions of every reader.

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User Review  - pre20cenbooks - LibraryThing

Use as a reference, The paperback is heavy. They should have put in two volumes. Becareful lifing if you have tendonitis or carpal tunnel syndrome.:) Very readable size print though, smaller margins for personal annotating. Read full review

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User Review  - ksmyth - LibraryThing

Have you ever felt the need for a handy desk reference that could give you a quick snippet about Shay's Rebellion, the income tax, or Lincoln's Second Inaugural. This is it. Authoritative, cross-referenced, no home should be without one. Read full review

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About the author (1991)

Eric Foner is the preeminent historian of his generation. His books have won the top awards in the profession, and he has been president of both major history organizations, the American Historical Association and the Organization of American Historians. He is the author of Give Me Liberty!, which displays all of his trademark strengths as a scholar, teacher, and writer. A specialist on the Civil War/Reconstruction period, he regularly teaches the nineteenth-century survey at Columbia University, where he is DeWitt Clinton Professor of History. In 2011, Foner's The Fiery Trial: Abraham Lincoln and American Slavery won the Pulitzer Prize in History, the Bancroft Prize, and the Lincoln Prize. His Gateway to Freedom: The Hidden History of the Underground Railroad is a 2015 New York Times bestseller.

John A. Garraty is the Gourverneur Morris Professor Emeritus of History at Columbia University and a former president of the Society of American Historians. His publications include Unemployment in History, The New Commonwealth, The Great Depression, and numerous history textbooks. He was an editor of the Columbia History of the World and the editor of recent supplements of the Dictionary of American Biography. He is currently the editor of the multivolume American National Biography.

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