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America Transformed: Sixty Years of Revolutionary Change, 1941-2001 [Hardcover]

Richard M. Abrams
3.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)

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Book Description

July 3, 2006 0521862469 978-0521862462 1
America has seen a multitude of transformations since its very founding. This book examines the period 1941-2001 during which time the character of American life changed rapidly, culminating in the shattering of the liberal Democratic coalition. Revolutions in the areas of affluence, foreign policy, the military, business system, racial relations, gender roles, sexual behavior and attitudes, and disregard for privacy are discussed. Rather than cite historical facts as they occurred, America Transformed analyzes them and offers a fresh and often controversial perspective. Abrams' draws on a wealth of published sources to highlight his original arguments on McCarthyism, the Cold War, Eisenhower, Kennedy, Nixon, and Johnson, to name a few topics. The synthesis of information and the depth of insight are simply unparalleled in any other book of American social history from 1941-2001.

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Editorial Reviews


"This spirited monograph synthesizes the scholarly wisdom of a lifetime. The provocative result nicely captures the major changes in American life over the course of the last sixty years."
-Edward D. Berkowitz, George Washington University and author of Something Happened: A Political and Cultural Overview of the Seventies

"Though covering a well-known era of American history, Abrams' use of sources and economic analyses is both innovative and imaginative. Rather than accepting change over time, he originally explains the role of elites in accounting for historical changes in the course of his Eight Revolutions. Again and again, this analysis shows how popular perceptions need to be explained by reality. Look, too, at his insightful dismantling of liberal society over those tumultuous years. Additionally, Abrams boldly looks into the morality of historical events, though his use of morals is not traditional: rather it is to test policies and actions against the values in the making of the American past. In sum, this is historical analysis at its best."
-Carl N. Degler, Stanford University, Emeritus

"In the hands of a lesser scholar, Abrams' approach using learned essays and meditations about American history might not have succeeded, for it requires considerable erudition on the part of the author and a high level of trust on the part of the reader. Fortunately Abrams is nothing if not learned, and he definitely inspires trust. From beginning to end, he raises major issues and probes difficult problems. Thanks to the caliber of his mind and the breadth of his reading, he is more than equal to the task."
-Jim Jones, University of Arkansas

"America Transformed is a cogent and provocative synthesis of our nation's history since World War II. It provides a crisp account of dramatic changes that have occurred in diverse dimensions of American life, while also conveying deep, and disturbing, reservations about the recent trajectory of American policy, both domestic and international."
-Alex Keyssar, Harvard University

"By writing about U.S. History since 1941 thematically yet comprehensively, Richard Abrams is able to give focused attention to many of the forces that profoundly affected the nation in the last two thirds of a century. Concentrating on topics such as privacy, science and technology, manners and morals, corporate reorganizations, and the power of elites, he illuminates what he persuasively reveals as the revolutionary forces that transformed the nation."
-Daniel Horowitz, Smith College

"Some readers will take heart and others take umbrage at the chiaroscuro in Richard Abrams' bold thematic portrait. None will deny that his wisdom on politics, business, culture, and law -- plus heartfelt good will -- glimmer from every page. America Transformed is both autopsy and eulogy for the liberal vision of what America might have become."
-Walter A. McDougall, University of Pennsylvania

"In a volume that synthesizes a lifetime of thinking and teaching about the twentieth century, Richard Abrams offers a shrewd, insightful, and always original interpretation of American life during the six momentously charged decades since 1941. Abrams tells the political and economic story, considers social and cultural trends, and examines both the intellectual mainstream and the odd, telling moment. Clever, witty, and fresh, this book serves not a bland pabulum but a flavorful, one might even say, somewhat peppery and spicy, dish of American history."
-William J. Rorabaugh, University of Washington and author of Kennedy and the Promise of the Sixties

"To make sense of wrenching changes in American society, culture, and politics since the United States entered World War II, this engaging, synthetic account by Berkeley historian Richard M. Abrams presents a potent narrative of revolution and counterrevolution...This book is good history and it is, at the same time, determinedly political-a combination, posing no difficulty in principle, that grants the book its vigor...Abrams narrates the rise to the Republican Right to power with finesse."
-Business History Review

"Adams has produced a bold, original work that deserves a wide readership. It stands as both a rigorous introduction to this period for non-specialists, while specialists will find much to ponder even if they do not always agree with his conclusions."
-Timothy N. Thurber, Virginia Commonwealth University, H-Amstdy

"...readers can dip into most chapters as separate essays, and those who do will be richly rewarded by the author's sprightly style and thought-provoking insights." -Susan M. Hartmann, Journal of Cold War Studies

Book Description

This book examines the period 1941-2001 during which time the character of American life changed rapidly, culminating in the shattering of the liberal Democratic coalition. Revolutions in the areas of affluence, foreign policy, the military, business system, racial relations, gender roles, sexual behavior and attitudes, and disregard for privacy are discussed.

Product Details

  • Hardcover: 366 pages
  • Publisher: Cambridge University Press; 1 edition (July 3, 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0521862469
  • ISBN-13: 978-0521862462
  • Product Dimensions: 9.4 x 6.7 x 1.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.5 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,099,580 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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3.3 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent summary of recent changes in US culture. November 2, 2006
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
America Transformed is a series of topical chapters about how much the US changed since the WW II era. Chapters include the economy, race relations, family changes, and America's global role. Each chapter details the dramatic changes that occured and gives historical and analytical perspectives. This is the kind of book that baby boomers perhaps should buy for their parents so they might understand why their children do not and cannot live life the way they did.

Conservatives be warned!!! The author of the book is an unabashed liberal and takes a classic liberal perspective in his analysis. Conservatives may well disagree, but he explains and supports his interpretations well.

I'd recommend this book not only for those interested in a topical summary of recent US history, but also as a supplemental text for college American History courses
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars "America Transformed" hits the mark December 31, 2006
It is somewhat difficult for Americans born after the 1970s to understand the profound transformations which this country has gone through since the Second World War. In "American Transformed" Richard Abrams provides a comprehensive and insightful synthesis of the dramatic changes taking place in the United States from the presidencies of FDR to GW Bush. Abrams argument about an "elite" driven transformation is clearly laid out (although it is more compelling when speaking about the rise of American international power, the military, and the restructuring of business than it is in other areas; specifically racial relations, gender based roles, and sexual behavior). Overall, this book is a very interesting read and is fundamental to any student of history looking to understand how modern America came to be. Pay close attention to Abrams depiction of the breakdown of the Liberal-Democratic coalition and the rise of Modern Conservatism and it's reactionary aspects, as these sections provide profound insights into our current American political and cultural life.
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1 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars "An Outstanding Work of Scholarship" April 16, 2007
"America Transformed" is an outstanding work of scholarship on the last 60 years of the 20th Century. The author is lucid, succinct, and thorough in his description of the social, economic, racial, and political issues of the period he considers, and this book is well worth reading by historians and students of the period 1940-2000. Jules Becker, Ph.D.
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