From Publishers Weekly
To write a thorough, balanced history of the United States in under 400 pages is no mean feat. Remini, professor of history emeritus at the University of Illinois at Chicago and a National Book Award winner for his work on Andrew Jackson, deftly wraps his expertise and deep knowledge of his subject in stripped-down prose that provides everything a casual (or bewildered) reader needs to know about the United States from the first English colonists until the beginning of 2008. Remini's final chapters are slightly rushed and his judgments too general to be useful, but these flaws are easily overshadowed by his masterful middle sections focusing on the 19th century (his scholarly specialty). In contrast to some surveys of American history, like Howard Zinn's People's History of the United States
or William Bennett's America: The Last Best Hope,
Remini delivers an objective narrative of this nation's history that readers of all political stripes will appreciate. 16 pages of b&w illus., 14 maps. (Oct.)
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The reigning scholarly biographer of Andrew Jackson, Remini has been a frequent writer of popular works on American history; his topics have ranged from The Battle of New Orleans (1999) and Joseph Smith (2002) to presidential inaugural speeches (Fellow Citizens, 2008). Here, Remini covers the whole American shebang in 368 pages, yielding a parsimonious narrative that to regular readers of American history resembles an outline—but they aren’t Remini’s audience. He seems to be writing for those who need anchorage in the major events in the development of the U.S., a large target indeed considering the gaps in the public’s knowledge of U.S. history as revealed by occasional surveys. An instructive technique Remini uses is to emphasize a precedent in history, such as the Mayflower Compact or the legislation of the First Congress under the Constitution, whose influence extends up to the present. Besides government, Remini applies this method to economics, civil rights, and foreign affairs. A good choice for general circulation needs. --Gilbert Taylor