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The Cycles of American History Paperback – June 16, 1999


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 512 pages
  • Publisher: Mariner Books; 1 edition (June 16, 1999)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0395957931
  • ISBN-13: 978-0395957936
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 1.1 x 8.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.7 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #673,284 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Library Journal

Schlesinger, a wide-ranging historian and political activist, considers topics such as the Cold War, political parties, the presidency, and many broader philosophical issues. Never one to soft-peddle his opinions, Schlesinger confronts scholars and politicians on the left and right who, he believes, bend history to their own ideological ends. Much of what appears in these essays has been published in various articles over the past generation during which the author was a leading proponent of a centrist approach to politics and foreign policy. To his credit, Schlesinger makes clear that his perspective has been altered somewhat by the passing years. Nonetheless, while he amends some of his more strident earlier opinions, he never apologizes for them. Even those who find his tub-thumping for Roosevelt and Kennedy a bit outdated will enjoy his sprightly style and incisive wit. Charles K. Piehl, Director of Grants and Sponsored Progs., Mankato State Univ., Minn.
Copyright 1986 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Review

"First-rate history mixed with a strong sense of public service . . . an excellent and provocative primer on the challenges surrounding the contemporary American political setting." Christian Science Monitor

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By David M. Sapadin on August 6, 2009
Format: Paperback
Written in the midst of the Reagan Administration, with an updated Foreword about 10 years ago, this book is a great read in 2009 because Schlesinger was right on the money (taking 9/11 into account which he couldn't have foreseen...) about when the swing in the American polity would take place from right to, well, I really can't call it left, at least not yet, so let's say from right to center.

Schlesinger dissects patterns of political shift right to center or center left throughout American History that follows a generational pattern. Schelesinger relates the shifts as more of the original argument between Federalists and State's Righters - which is the only "pattern" that seems to have gone off on a tangent in recent years, as the right has become more internationalist/interventionist. It remains to be seen whether the Democrats take us into isolationism or just a more moderate internationalism than that of the right. (If the Democrats take us to isolationism, then that would complete a reshuffling of party stands on a major issue, one that would present historical problems that Schlesinger did not foresee).

But for the most part, this detailed, thoroughly researched study is not only a very intereting piece of historical analysis, but entertaining as well simply because we have the luxury to look back 30 years now and see how amazing close Schlesinger was!

Well worth your time!
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Tom K. on November 15, 2011
Format: Paperback
Arthur Schlesinger, Jr. compiled a book of 14 essays on American politics in 1986. With 25 years of hindsight, this book displays the promise and limitations of twentieth century liberalism. The author asks pertinent questions, evaluates historical evidence and provides solid basic solutions. He is better at undercutting both the Marxist left and the apologists for powerful interests on the right, than he is in making a compelling case for the wisdom of the center-left. There are some detours into arcane academic detail, unwarranted assertions and many diatribes about the inadequacy, inconsistency and immorality of the Reagan revolution. This book is worthy of current interest because the country remains at a crossroads, with a deep ideological division and few glimmers of "hope and change". Schlesinger believed in the "great man" theory of history where individuals have the opportunity and obligation to serve society as it struggles with self-interest, ignorance, apathy and change.

The U.S. was founded by pragmatic men who saw republican democracy as an experiment that might work, if the structure was adequate and leadership was applied. America as an ideal state, governed by providence, was a later development, often misused by politicians.

There are 15-20 year cycles between innovation and conservatism, democracy and capitalism, public and private interests. In a democracy, the public has infinite wants and fluctuates between two sets of stories which might best deliver.

Foreign policy is most effective when it is pragmatic, reflecting the real interests of the nation. Public morality is different than private morality. The state represents the varied interests of its citizens and seeks preservation first.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Excellent insights. A superb book that I shall be sure to recommend to others. Mary had a little lamb named Schlesinger.
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18 of 55 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on March 31, 2001
Format: Paperback
This novel is yet another classic by Schlesinger. I enjoyed it emmensly for a variety of reasons. First, Schlesinger makes his novel appeling to both the avid history fan, student of history, and teacher of history, thus allowing everyone to understand his work. Furthermore, Schlesinger explains his work in using his every present political shrewdness aswell as dry wit. This is a refreshing change from the dry unending style of many historians. The major points explained in this work are the cycling of American politics and its effects on the past, present, and future. This gives it an even more universal quality which even students of politics can appreciate.
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