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The Epic of America Paperback – October 1, 2001

ISBN-13: 978-1931541336 ISBN-10: 1931541337 Edition: 1st

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 444 pages
  • Publisher: Simon Publications; 1 edition (October 1, 2001)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1931541337
  • ISBN-13: 978-1931541336
  • Product Dimensions: 9 x 6 x 1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.5 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,217,371 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

About the Author

James Truslow Adams (1878-1949) was an American writer and historian known for his writings on New England, and is known for coining the phrase “American Dream.” Before becoming a writer Adams served on President Woodrow Wilson’s commission in charge of preparing data for the Paris Peace Conference, which signified the end of World War I. His many writings include The Founding of New England (for which he won a Pulitzer Prize), Our Business Civilization, and The March of Democracy.



Howard G. Schneiderman is professor in the department of anthropology and sociology at Lafayette College. He is the editor of The Protestant Establishment Revisited and The Hindrances to Good Citizenship.

--This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

Customer Reviews

4.2 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

33 of 37 people found the following review helpful By Scorpio on September 26, 2003
Format: Paperback
Traditionally, we think of the American Dream as owning a home and having a happy family, with some undefined financial success often referred to as "comfortable and high-standard living". The dream aspect of the American Dream, however, connotes a traditional and national vision, despite some of the mundane aspects of the dream as it is often defined. Immigrants in particular have seen America as a promised land, with the dream as an integral part of this vision. On the other hand, some see the American Dream as an unfulfillable vision, especially those whose race, ethnicity or gender the mainstream uses as an excuse for excluding them from dreaming. Others see it as relentlessly competitive and material and ruthless.
For the first time in American history, John Truslow Adams, in this monumental work, The Epic of America (1933) coined the term, the American Dream and defined it as
... that dream of a land in which life should be better and richer and fuller for every man, with opportunity for each according to his ability or achievement.... It is not a dream of motor cars and high wages merely, but a dream of a social order in which each man and each woman shall be able to attain to the fullest stature of which they are innately capable, and be recognized by others for what they are, regardless of the fortuitous circumstances of birth or position.
Adams believed that
the American dream that has lured tens of millions of all nations to our shores in the past century has not been a dream of merely material plenty, though that has doubtless counted heavily. It has been much more than that.
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12 of 13 people found the following review helpful By Travis French on February 11, 2009
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I'm a book junkie. My favorite pastime is laying in my hammock with a book. Lately I've been engrossed by Hunter S. Thompson. A recurring theme in Thompson's work is the American Dream. We all have an idea of what the American Dream is, but where did it come from? The answer is this book.
Judging by the size I was expecting a long dry tome, something I'd have to fight throught. Instead The Epic of America is what a history book ought to be. It reads more like an adventure story than a scholarly text. I'd read it to my kids if I had any.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By John Wren on October 21, 2012
Format: Paperback
I'm amazed there is no review here of this book.

This is what I just posted on my blog JohnWren(dot)com with a link to it here on Amazon:

The term "American dream" was coined 1931 by J.T. Adams (1878-1949), U.S. writer and historian, in this book "Epic of America." I found a copy of it in a used book store a few years ago for just a couple of dollars. A new paperback edition has recently been published.

[The American Dream is] "that dream of a land in which life should be better and richer and fuller for everyone, with opportunity for each according to ability or achievement. It is a difficult dream for the European upper classes to interpret adequately, and too many of us ourselves have grown weary and mistrustful of it. It is not a dream of motor cars and high wages merely, but a dream of social order in which each man and each woman shall be able to attain to the fullest stature of which they are innately capable, and be recognized by others for what they are, regardless of the fortuitous circumstances of birth or position."
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17 of 31 people found the following review helpful By "johnw2" on December 6, 2003
Format: Hardcover
According to Webster, this book was the first time the term "American dream" was used. At one time the author, Adams, was very popular, seems to have fallen from favor when he took the position that Thomas Jefferson would have been against Roosevelt's New Deal.
Seems to me the full flowering in this country of what Adams saw as the American dream is the Colorado caucus-assembly system, which has been under attack in recent years by the power elite. Next April 13th we Colorado citizens will again have a chance to choose our representatives through a system of neighborhood meetings. If we do not exercise this tool for the common person it will be lost forever.
Thomas Jefferson said that we would need to have a revolution every 20 years; the Colorado caucus-assembly system provides a mechanism for doing just that without bloodshed. For more information see [...]
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