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It's been a while since I've read this book but it is excellent.
Newmeyer reviews the history of linguistics in the USA from the pre-Chomskyan period until the early 1980's.A lot of the early ideas have totally disappeared from Chomsky's modern literature. I think this book gives some good perspective on what we have now and what it came from, and why.
Most of the teachers teaching in universities now were in grad school in the late eighties or nineties (or later). They do not personally know the history that Newmeyer describes.
As such, this is probably one of the best ways to get to understand the context of modern linguistic theory, especially in North America.