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Product Details

  • Series: Very Short Introductions
  • Paperback: 184 pages
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press (September 13, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 019538914X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0195389142
  • Product Dimensions: 6.6 x 0.5 x 4.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 3.5 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (14 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #93,208 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review


"Paul Boyer, a scholar's scholar and a teacher's teacher, has here encompassed the entirety of American history in an account that testifies on every page to his lifetime of deep and thoughtful learning, and to his remarkable powers of synthesis, concision, balance, and trenchantly lucid writing."--David M. Kennedy, author of Freedom From Fear: The American People in Depression and War, 1929-1945


About the Author


Paul S. Boyer was Merle Curti Professor of History Emeritus at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. A leading authority on American history, his writings span the social origins of the Salem witchcraft outbreak to the cultural impact of the atomic bomb and the political implications of Bible prophecy belief in contemporary America. A history textbook author and editor of reference works, including The Oxford Companion to United States History, he published in many general-interest periodicals. He also appeared on PBS, BBC, the History Channel, and the Discovery Channel, and lectured at some 100 colleges and universities in the United States, Germany, Great Britain, Ireland, Scandinavia, and Switzerland.

Customer Reviews

An excellent,scholarly and readable history, well-written, with good notes.
Ktina
That makes history useful and, if the author provides balanced information, permits me to reasonably agree or disagree with the conclusions.
etienne53
I highly recommend it to people who want to learn the basics of the US history and evolution.
Malik Siraj Akbar

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

21 of 29 people found the following review helpful By dcreader VINE VOICE on November 1, 2012
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
American History: A Very Short Introduction provides its reader with as comprehensive a look at American political, social and cultural history as is possible in under 200 small pages (the standard format for the "Very Short Introduction" series, whose books are not only short but small as well) and in a well written manner. Virtually every event, person of significance and movement in American history receives at least a mention, which must have been a difficult task to accomplish given the strictures. What it does not do, however, is provide consistently up to date scholarship or a proper sense of proportion of America's triumphs to failures. It also contains a few errors and some of Boyer's interpretations of events will provoke disagreement with those who do not share his political leanings.

Boyer essentially begins with the English settlement of North America, dispensing with the pre-Columbian native peoples, Leif Ericson and non-English Europeans in only a few pages. The colonial period is one of the book's strengths as Boyer explains the development of the English settlements at Jamestown and Plymouth and the social development of the New World as different from that of the Old. The events leading to the Revolution are also nicely cataloged, and Boyer takes us from the post-Revolutionary war period through the Gilded Age in a fairly conventional manner.

Some of Boyer's interpretations of events rely on dated scholarship, however. A simplistic search for foreign markets accounts entirely for the Spanish-American War. His account of the New Deal places the stock market crash in the role of catalyst of the Great Depression failing to mention the role of monetary policy, which is at the core of today's economic understanding.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful By David on January 3, 2014
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Pretty frank overview of American History from post-revolution to modern times.
Includes objective commentary about the successes AND failures of American Society, without any hyperbole.
Much appreciated.
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5 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Ktina on November 7, 2012
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An excellent,scholarly and readable history, well-written, with good notes. I thoroughly enjoyed reading it and plan to read it again soon. I seldom read a book twice, so that's a compliment. If you are considering buying this book, do not hesitate.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Malik Siraj Akbar on January 8, 2014
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Few books tell you the story of the United States starting from Columbus to be Arab Spring within a few hours. I highly recommend it to people who want to learn the basics of the US history and evolution.
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3 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Frank A. Stephenson on December 11, 2012
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This is an excellent read that succinctly summarizes the more salient points of our country's historical events from migration of people from Asia to the Obama administration. For my taste, a trifle too much detail is paid early on to the speculation of the politics of early government, but overall it is value for money.
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful By etienne53 on December 28, 2014
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I expect a short history to give me key dates, key figures, enough information about each to make each point memorable, and then to draw useful conclusions with some explanation. That makes history useful and, if the author provides balanced information, permits me to reasonably agree or disagree with the conclusions.

This book offers generalized conclusions with almost no dates and no key figures, and the writing is hardly memorable.
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Dr. Bojan Tunguz HALL OF FAMETOP 50 REVIEWER on December 10, 2013
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America is one of the most fascinating and influential countries in the history of the World. For a while now it has been recognized as a singularly important country in the World, be it in terms of its economic and military power, its cultural influence, or its remarkable scientific and technological advances. This is that much more remarkable considering that America is a relatively young country – as a nation it has only existed for close to a quarter of a millennium, and as an distinct political and cultural entity for perhaps a couple of centuries longer. This pales in comparison to any other major nation in the world, some of whose histories extend for several millennia. Nonetheless, America boasts of a rich and interesting history.

This very short introduction to American history aims to give a highlight of all the major historical developments over the last four centuries or so. It is for the most part a very accessible and digestible account. People who are already well familiar with American history will find a lot of information in here that they had already been exposed to in other settings. The first two thirds of the book or so is just a very straightforward and clearly written rehash of the main events and developments in American history.

Unfortunately as the book progresses it becomes increasingly tendentious and ideological.
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