Twentieth-Century America: A Brief History

Twentieth-Century America: A Brief History

Twentieth-Century America: A Brief History

Twentieth-Century America: A Brief History


Twentieth-Century America offers a succinct, comprehensive, and objective examination of recent American history. From Progressivism and the New Deal up to the present, Reeves covers all aspects of American history without burying students in unnecessary detail and trivia. This allows students to grasp the major developments and continuities of American history and to come away with a cohesive picture of the twentieth century. From William McKinley and the Wright Brothers to Michael Jordan and Monica Lewinsky, Reeves lays bare the whole of the twentieth century with an interpretation that strives for an unbiased and accurate presentation of the real story of American history. The author conveys vivid accounts of the changes in the political arena, public policy, popular culture, industry, economy, race, gender, and class that defined the times, and explores the great strides made in technology, living standards, working conditions, and education. He stresses social as well as political and economic history, emphasizing the roles played by all Americans--including immigrants, minorities, women, and working people--and pays special attention to such topics as religion, crime, morality, public health, national prosperity, and the media. Reeves presents both sides of controversial subjects and is careful to point out which interpretations were most strongly supported. The recommended readings at the end of each chapter have been specifically selected to appeal to students and to acquaint them with the most readable and provocative books on each era. For a clear and fascinating look at the often exciting and always important history of the United States, Twentieth-Century America is an indispensable text for all students interested in a lucid historical overview of this country's past one hundred years.


This book is designed for those who want a succinct, comprehensive, and reasonably objective examination of recent American history. It is aimed at general readers and college undergraduates who want a core textbook that can be supplemented by primary sources and additional readings.

In my more than thirty years of teaching American history, I have rarely been satisfied with the reading material available for the classroom. Most survey textbooks are bulky and attempt to cover nearly everything that happened. Students are often bewildered and weary from the start, being faced with tens of thousands of facts, dates, and charts they presumably must memorize. The attempt here has been to select materials more carefully, trying to present solid coverage of an era without burying readers in detail and trivia.

Some elements of our past readers find important are no doubt neglected in these pages—show business celebrities of the 1990s, for example. But such omissions, if they prove serious, can be rectified in the classroom by the instructor and covered in additional reading assignments. All any introduction or survey can do in any case is to raise names, events, and issues that will warrant further study. The cliché is true: Education is a lifelong adventure.

Some textbooks offer alternative viewpoints from historians on major issues. That leads almost inevitably to student confusion and even cynicism. Which historian is right? they ask. It is important for students of the past to learn that historians differ on many things. History is not a science; and even scientists disagree, often vehemently, on certain topics. But much of the confusion about historical viewpoints can be avoided by the careful synthesis of a single author.

It has become fashionable since the 1960s to infuse textbooks with an abundance of polemics, especially after the story reaches the post World War II period. This is not only a disservice to the historical calling, it seems to me, but it again hampers classroom effectiveness. Students who object to the slant often complain they are being indoctrinated and refuse to take the reading seriously. Those who agree also often lose interest, knowing in advance what the interpretation of events and people will be. There is, of course, nothing wrong with historical interpretation. It is present in this volume and . . .

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