A History of the American People

Front Cover
Harper Collins, Jun 30, 2009 - History - 1104 pages
15 Reviews

The prize winning classic work on the post Civil War period which wrenched American society, now with a new introduction by the author.

"The creation of the United States of America is the greatest of all human adventures," begins Paul Johnson’s remarkable new American history. "No other national story holds such tremendous lessons, for the American people themselves and for the rest of mankind." Johnson’s history is a reinterpretation of American history from the first settlements to the Clinton administration. It covers every aspect of U.S. history—politics; business and economics; art, literature and science; society and customs; complex traditions and religious beliefs. The story is told in terms of the men and women who shaped and led the nation and the ordinary people who collectively created its unique character. Wherever possible, letters, diaries, and recorded conversations are used to ensure a sense of actuality. "The book has new and often trenchant things to say about every aspect and period of America’s past," says Johnson, "and I do not seek, as some historians do, to conceal my opinions."

This is an in-depth portrait of a great people, from their fragile origins through their struggles for independence and nationhood, their heroic efforts and sacrifices to deal with the 'organic sin’ of slavery and the preservation of the Union to its explosive economic growth and emergence as a world power and its sole superpower. Johnson discusses such contemporary topics as the politics of racism, education, Vietnam, the power of the press, political correctness, the growth of litigation, and the rising influence of women. He sees Americans as a problem-solving people and the story of America as "essentially one of difficulties being overcome by intelligence and skill, by faith and strength of purpose, by courage and persistence... Looking back on its past, and forward to its future, the auguries are that it will not disappoint humanity."

This challenging narrative and interpretation of American history by the author of many distinguished historical works is sometimes controversial and always provocative. Johnson’s views of individuals, events, themes, and issues are original, critical, and admiring, for he is, above all, a strong believer in the history and the destiny of the American people.

 

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LibraryThing Review

User Review  - dickmanikowski - LibraryThing

I actually read this book by mistake. A good friend recommended Howard Zinn's A PEOPLES HISTORY OF THE UNITED STATES, but I misremembered the title. By the time I realized the mistake, I was up to the ... Read full review

LibraryThing Review

User Review  - datrappert - LibraryThing

How does one determine a rating for a book like this? Do we appreciate its best parts, its fine writing, and its page-turning momentum, so rare in an almost thousand page book of history? Or do we ... Read full review

Contents

Ralegh the ProtoAmerican and the Roanoke Disaster
11
Mayflower and the Formative Event
29
The First Dissentient
47
The Primitive Structure of Colonial America
63
Cotton Mather and the End of the Puritan Utopia
81
The Rise of Philadelphia
97
part
119
The Role of Benjamin Franklin
134
Centrality of Railroads
533
Carnegie Steel and American Philanthropy
551
Chicago and New York
569
Church Bierstadt and the Limitless Landscape
585
The Rise of Labor and Muckraking
599
Populism Imperialism and the SpanishAmerican War
609
PART
625
McAdoo and the Coming of War
639

The Galvanizing Effect of Tom Paine
153
Americas First Civil War
171
The Ratification Debate
191
The Role of Religion in the Constitution
205
Success of Washington and His Farewell Address
222
Central Importance of John Marshall
235
The Louisiana Purchase 2 51
253
Andrew Jackson the Deus Ex Machina
267
PART THREE
281
Spread of the Religious Sects
296
The Missouri Compromise
316
The Advent of Jacksonian Democracy
329
The War against the Bank
355
Polk and the Mexican War
372
De Tocqueville and the Emerging Supernation
389
Emerson and the Birth of an American Culture
403
The Era of Pierce and Buchanan
424
Centrality of Preserving the Union
443
Why the South Was Virtually Bound to Lose
461
The War among the Generals
474
Andrew Johnson and the Two Reconstructions
499
MassImmigration and Thinking Big
512
Harding Normalcy and WitchHunting
655
Fundamentalism and Middle America
671
Cheap Electricity and Its Dramatic Impact
689
Race Prejudice Popular Entertainment and Downward Mobility
703
Twenties Cultural and Economic Prosperity
717
Why the Depression Was So Deep and LongLasting
735
The Mythology of the New Deal
755
US Isolationism and Internationalism
768
America in the War the Miracle in Production
781
Nuclear Weapons and the Defeat of Japan
799
America and the Birth of Israel
819
Piety on the Potomac
839
Election and the Myth of Camelot
855
Lyndon Johnson and His Great Society
869
Nixon and His Silent Majority
887
Congressional Rule and Americas Nadir
905
Rearmament and the Collapse of Soviet Power
926
FindeSiècle America and Its Whims
941
Language Abortion and Crime
959
The Triumph of Women
973
Index roë1
1059
Copyright

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About the author (2009)

Paul Johnson is a historian whose work ranges over the millennia and the whole gamut of human activities. He regularly writes book reviews for several UK magazines and newspapers, such as the Literary Review and The Spectator, and he lectures around the world. He lives in London, England.

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