Michigan: A Bicentennial History (States and the Nation)

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W. W. Norton & Company, Dec 17, 1984 - History - 204 pages
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The late Pulitzer-Prize-winning historian Bruce Catton is known to millions of readers for his absorbing works on the Civil War. In this book, he turns to his native Michigan to tell a story of what happened when a primitive wilderness changed into a bustling industrial center so fast that it was as if the old French explorer Etienne Brule "should step up to shake hands with Henry Ford."

The idea that abundance was "inexhaustible--that fatal Michigan word," as the author calls it--dominated thinking about the state from the days when Commandant Cadillac's soldiers arrived at Detroit until his name became a brand of car. Viewed in this light, Michigan is a case study of all America, and Americans in any state will be fascinated. In a colorful, dramatic past, Mr. Catton finds understanding of where we are in the present and what the future will make us face. 

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This is an unusual way to write a history, to say the least. And yet, it works amazingly well. There is not a lot of cold recitation of detail in Catton's writing. (I just finished Richard Nelson Current's parallel history of Wisconsin, and the two styles are entirely different. ) Yet, everything that you need to know about the history of Michigan is here--the French and English dealings with the Indians, Lewis Cass' activity, the Toledo War, the farming, lumbering and mining industries, Hazen Pingree's Progressive movement--all told in a very pleasant, readable style. This book is part of a series of the histories of all 50 states, and Michigan is fortunate to have a writer like Bruce Catton telling its story. 

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About the author (1984)

Bruce Catton was a journalist, Civil War historian, and editor of American Heritage magazine.

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