The Contours of American History and over one million other books are available for Amazon Kindle. Learn more
Qty:1
  • List Price: $27.95
  • Save: $7.83 (28%)
FREE Shipping on orders over $35.
In Stock.
Ships from and sold by Amazon.com.
Gift-wrap available.
The Contours of American ... has been added to your Cart
FREE Shipping on orders over $35.
Used: Like New | Details
Sold by threehegemons
Condition: Used: Like New
Comment: Looks perfect. No marks in text. Excellent Condition.
Have one to sell? Sell on Amazon
Flip to back Flip to front
Listen Playing... Paused   You're listening to a sample of the Audible audio edition.
Learn more
See all 2 images

The Contours of American History Paperback – February 17, 1989


See all 13 formats and editions Hide other formats and editions
Amazon Price New from Used from
Kindle
"Please retry"
Hardcover
"Please retry"
$8.00
Paperback
"Please retry"
$20.12
$19.18 $4.10

There is a newer edition of this item:

Take%20an%20Extra%2030%25%20Off%20Any%20Book

Special Offers and Product Promotions

  • Take an Extra 30% Off Any Book: Use promo code HOLIDAY30 at checkout to get an extra 30% off any book for a limited time. Excludes Kindle eBooks and Audible Audiobooks. Restrictions apply. Learn more.

  • Get a $150 Amazon.com Gift Card: Get the Citi ThankYou® Preferred Card and earn a $150.00 digital Amazon.com Gift Card* after $1,000 in card purchases within 3 months of account opening. Learn more.

Frequently Bought Together

The Contours of American History + Empire As A Way of Life: An Essay on the Causes and Character of America's Present Predicament Along with a Few Thoughts about an Alternative
Price for both: $32.18

Buy the selected items together

NO_CONTENT_IN_FEATURE

Holiday Deals in Books
Holiday Deals in Books
Find deals for every reader in the Holiday Deals in Books store, featuring savings of up to 50% on cookbooks, children's books, literature & fiction, and more.

Product Details

  • Paperback: 520 pages
  • Publisher: W. W. Norton & Company (February 17, 1989)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0393305619
  • ISBN-13: 978-0393305616
  • Product Dimensions: 0.5 x 0.1 x 0.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 15.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #268,535 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

“One of the most original home-grown minds in American history. The welcome republication of The Contours of American History should make William Appleman Williams’ stature and foresight as an analyst of the basic patter of US history transparently evident.”—Eric Hobsbawm

“There is still—fifty years after its publication—no better critique of America liberalism and the contradictions of the ideology of individualism, no clearer analysis of the specificities of American empire. Greg Grandin’s preface is a terrific introduction to Williams’ thinking.”—Joan Wallach Scott

“It is hard to capture the impact of The Contours of American History on a generation of young historians in the 1960s, offering a model of history writing that took account of class forces, state power, and the role of ideas. In a way, the study of history has come full circle, back to examining the interconnections between domestic and international history. Back to Williams, in other words.”—Eric Foner

“A very good book indeed ... It is quietly reasoned, beautifully ordered, and spirited as hell ... [It] is not a book for children, nostalgic or otherwise.”—Loren Baritz, The Nation --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

About the Author

A former president of the Organization of American Historians, William Appleman Williams taught for many years at the University of Wisconsin and Oregon State University. His books include The Contours of American History, The Tragedy of American Diplomacy, and Empire as a Way of Life.

More About the Author

Discover books, learn about writers, read author blogs, and more.

Customer Reviews

4.2 out of 5 stars
5 star
3
4 star
0
3 star
2
2 star
0
1 star
0
See all 5 customer reviews
Share your thoughts with other customers

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

17 of 21 people found the following review helpful By Calvin on February 24, 2004
Format: Paperback
This is really a great book, describing the economic systems in America even 100 years before the Revolutionary war. Politicians in England had such a great effect on the economy in the former colony; namely, a smallish fellow, Anthony Ashley Cooper, Lord Shaftesbury, who's ideas on religion and psychology came to effect much in the civilized world. Like all wise men, he was a deist.
I like the book very much and expect to read it again. I was excited by the energy displayed by the characters and it includes many great quotes I've never seen before.
"There is an overweening fondness for representing this country as a scene of liberty, equality fraternity, union, harmony, and benevolence. But let not your sons or mine deceive themselves. This country, like all others, has been a theatre of parties and feuds for near two hundred years." John Adams, 1817
"[a corporation] is, indeed, a mere artificial being, invisible and intangible; yet it is a person, for certain purposes in contemplation of law, and has been recognized as such by the decisions of this court." Chief Justice Roger B. Taney, 1839

He also points out the negative(my word) aspects of American economic and foreign policy, such as "expansion as economic policy." The Louisiana Purchase, the Mexican-American war, the Civil War, the Spanish American War, and . . .it just goes on from there. All were initiated in an effort to expand American territory. Why? Because Americans love wide-open spaces. And the fact American companies can use all the new customers they can get.
I've taken many history courses, but they never brought the people of the times alive like this; the Movers and shakers of the Age of Mercantilism, the Age of Laissez Nous Faire, the Age of Corporation Capitalism. It makes me wonder and hope what the future holds.
Comment Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback. If this review is inappropriate, please let us know.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
6 of 9 people found the following review helpful By James R. Maclean on June 8, 2010
Format: Paperback
Williams adopted an unusual approach to US history in this book. Unlike the relatively more factual (and in my view, successful) Tragedy of American Diplomacy, this book addresses the philosophical traditions behind US political evolution.

_Tragedy_ mostly explains the linkage between long-run expansionary policies of US elites and actual, concrete foreign policies undertaken by the US government. It argues convincingly that both "progressive" and "conservative" political currents contributed to a confrontational, strategic foreign policy. Progressives, in particular, saw expansionism abroad as THE method whereby social goals would be met or paid for. Conservatives mainly rejected idealistic foreign policy aims as bromides, but did favor aggressive pursuit of US business interests as the state's duty to private property. In my view, _Tragedy_ erred in downplaying the conservative role in jingoism, but made a strong case.

In _Contours_, Williams is struggling with a much more ephemeral topic: the philosophical trends that he regards as foundational to the Usonian world view. The central plot is expansionism: the colonies that would later form the early USA were guided by a doctrine of expansion, which was itself the product of perfectionist philosophical doctrines. Most of the first 44 pages is about the life and outlook of the 1st Earl of Shaftesbury (Anthony Ashley Cooper, d.1683), who is credited with the creation not merely of the Whig Party in England, but with the very idea of the the political party itself. In Williams' view, Shaftesbury identified the ideal balance between private initiative and public responsibility.
Read more ›
Comment Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback. If this review is inappropriate, please let us know.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This is one of Williams' utter masterpieces from decades ago, still timeless [as nothing much has changed regarding the American empire]. What HAS changed is that now the book comes with an especially perceptive new introduction by a new-to-me writer. Worth every penny.
Comment Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback. If this review is inappropriate, please let us know.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
Format: Kindle Edition
A masterpiece. Williams describes how the concept of U.S. democracy meant something quite different for the founding fathers than what is taught in public school social studies classes.
Comment Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback. If this review is inappropriate, please let us know.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
The book is fine. I should have looked more closely though, it was published in 1961. It was recommended by an acquaintance.
1 Comment Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback. If this review is inappropriate, please let us know.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again

What Other Items Do Customers Buy After Viewing This Item?