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America, Empire of Liberty: A New History of the United States Hardcover – October 13, 2009
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From Publishers Weekly
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
“In an animated overview up to the present time, Cambridge historian Reynolds (In Command of History) captures the sprawling chronicle of a nation forged from the fires of revolution, populated by immigrants and constantly evolving politically and culturally… Most readers will find Reynolds’s epic overview provocative and enjoyable.”
American History Magazine
“Dazzlingly sweeping yet stippled with detail, this one-volume narrative runs from 1776 to Obama’s election, serving up fresh insights along the way.”
“Concise and still-inclusive…teeming…an evenhanded distillation of America's story from a singular outside observer.”
The National Interest
“Let us not mince words…this is the best one-volume history of the United States ever written…At least on the face of it, no single mind can master this mountain of material, avoid the almost-inevitable factual blunders, negotiate the long-standing scholarly controversies, and control the narrative in clear and at-times-lyrical prose. But that is precisely what Reynolds has done…[A] remarkable tour of the American past.”
Top Customer Reviews
The book is divided into three sections. The first starts in the distant past with the arrival of prehistoric humans, and winds down to the beginning of the Civil War. The second continues with the Civil War through to the end of World War II. These sections are an interesting but conventional and conservative overview of US history. To anyone familiar with American history, there should be few surprises here, except some of the author's conservative spin on events. For instance, he takes a consistently negative and 'interfering' view of the decisions of the Supreme Court.
The third section of the book is set from after World War II right up to the Obama Presidency. I found this section the most memorable but also the most frustrating. Apart from a chapter on the civil rights movement of the Sixties and a section on the Information Revolution, this section is a series of shallow biographies of the US presidential administrations. It covers what they intended to do, and what standard histories say they achieved. American events not involving the Presidents are not covered. Apart from Watergate, scandals are only mentioned, not truly covered. This section is also where the author's viewpoint goes from just conservative to aggressively imperial.Read more ›
History written to illuminate a particular theme can be absorbing and challenging. Frequently, it can shape new ideas about what were previously known facts. This is what I had expected from this book but there is little of this here. We know that Americans are religious, hard-working, lovers of liberty, and relatively young. Each of these is discussed briefly without any new conclusions.
But our tour guide presents a breezy and fast-moving review of American history. I had been looking for something more than a review: I wanted fresh insights and a different slant. Sadly, America, Empire of Liberty disappoints in this.
Coming of Age as a Military Power in its Own Right in World War Two, the United States Establishes a Global American Empire While Waging the Cold War and Does Not Dismantle it, Thereafter. From its Founding, the Colonies and the New Nation Enjoy Greater Economic and Political Liberty than Europe, Especially Through Cheap Land. But Shortage of Labor (The Flip Side of Cheap Land) Makes Black Slavery Economically Necessary.
Liberty, Therefore Becomes a Crucial Issue in the History of this Nascent Nation. `Whose Liberty?' Is the Big Question in the Twentieth Century - Causing Often Violent Agitation about the Rights of Blacks. This Debate Then Extends to Women, Homosexuals, Guns, the Unborn and Multi-Culturalism.
The Driver Behind the American Way of Life Is, So Often, its Religious Faith, Derived from Calvinist Protestantism. Reynolds Shows How it Can Be Characterized by a Providentialist Sense of Mission, So Powerful in its Reach, it Becomes the Underlying Evangelical Ideology of America and its Foreign Policy; from Wilson to George W. Bush. This Persuasive Interpretation of the History of the Superpower of Our Times Will Be Required Reading / Listening for Years to Come.
I purchased a MP3 CD for $10 of the Complete 90-part BBC Radio series, for my children to use as a reference, when they are taking American History in School.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
I didn't struggle with zoning out as much as with other history books! That's quite something.Published 1 month ago by Kendra
A terrific and entertaining book. It reads much better than a textbook---it is not a text book at all. It makes you want to continue to flip the pages.Published 6 months ago by Andrew Johnson
Great boook, superfast delivery, and book was NOT as described....it was better!!!!!!!!, it was literally BRAND NEW, no damage, no water stains, no increase, absolutely nothing... Read morePublished 14 months ago by Julian Ferrazzi
I think this is a good one volume history of U.S. I found it useful for ordering thoughts and gaining an easily consumable overall narrative of U.S. history. Read morePublished on April 29, 2014 by Thrawn
First rate scholarship and written in an a page turner readable popular style, Reynolds stands beside Zinn and Huberman as the historians who are today's must reads. Read morePublished on February 14, 2014 by Bruce M. Kerner
Despite being billed as the best one-volume history of the United States in recent times, "America: Empire of Liberty" is a remarkably uneven book. Read morePublished on March 18, 2012 by S Wood
This book is a great history book - I'm currently using it for my Post-Civil war history class. It provides useful insight on history in a more thematic manner by telling history... Read morePublished on February 19, 2012 by Madison
Before I finished book I knew very little about USA history limited by my school education in former Soviet Union times. Read morePublished on December 23, 2011 by Dmitry Vostokov
David Reynolds has done a fine job here with his radio 4 broadcasts, now turned into a CD, on America, Empire of Liberty. Read morePublished on October 13, 2011 by Sirin