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Pivotal Decades: The United States, 1900-1920 Reprint Edition

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ISBN-13: 978-0393956559
ISBN-10: 0393956555
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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

In a richly textured narrative, Cooper describes political, economic, social and diplomatic developments in the United States during the first two decades of the century, an era dominated by two dynamic presidents: Theodore Roosevelt and Woodrow Wilson. The period witnessed America's involvement in WW I, the building of the Panama Canal, the invention of the airplane and the radio, mass production of automobiles, the first civil rights organizations, women's suffrage, the inauguration of income tax, and the emergence of mass journalism, professional sports and movie stars. Cooper ( The Warrior and the Priest ) delineates the opposing stands taken by major political parties on economic and social issues, and traces the prolonged debate over international activism versus isolationism. Illustrated.
Copyright 1990 Reed Business Information, Inc.

Review

“A superb study, capturing the light and shade of the early twentieth century. . . . The quiet unobtrusive scholarship provides a mature compelling view of the Progressive years. Cooper's flowing text presents an integrated and persuasively complex picture of the period. . . . Masterfuly captures the ironies, subtleties, and characters.”

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 432 pages
  • Publisher: W. W. Norton & Company; Reprint edition (September 17, 1990)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0393956555
  • ISBN-13: 978-0393956559
  • Product Dimensions: 6.1 x 1 x 9.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.3 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (14 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #181,898 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

John Milton Cooper, Jr., is professor of history at the University of Wisconsin. He is the author of Breaking the Heart of the World: Wilson and the Fight for the League of Nations and The Warrior and the Priest: Woodrow Wilson and Theodore Roosevelt, among other books. He was recently a fellow at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars in Washington, D.C. He lives in Madison, Wisconsin.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

15 of 15 people found the following review helpful By Todd Carlsen on April 22, 2007
Format: Paperback
This is one of the best written books I have ever read. Professor Cooper's writing is concise and easy to read, which is an extraordinary achievement considering the enormous amount of information packed into this medium-to-small sized book. You will learn much, yet the book is a quick-paced joy to read. More history should be written like this.

The book has many pictures and other visual aids, such as maps and newspaper headlines, to help bring the story to life. It succeeds marvelously. I believe this to be the best single-volume book on the Progressive Era, beginning at the end of the Gilded Age, through World War I, to the start of the roaring twenties. An enormous amount of fascinating history takes place during that era with many fascinating characters, such as Theodore Roosevelt, Woodrow Wilson, Fighting Bob LaFollette, William Jennings Bryant, the suffragists, the religious crusaders to solve social ills, and the Gilded Age capitalists. Theodore Roosevelt and Woodrow Wilson are featured most prominantly. Indeed, the author also wrote an outstanding biography of Roosevelt and Wilson called "The Warrior and the Priest." This book can also be considered a concise and excellent biography of Theodore Roosevelt and Woodrow Wilson.

The story begins during the late Gilded Age, when America was a bustling industrial superpower. Great capitalists of the era, such as Morgan and Rockefeller, enter the story. You get a balanced portrait of the economy that employed many people and created progress but had a harsh side to to it. You learn about the Muckraker reporters who uncovered scandals and the rise of socialists among the working class, although they never gained much power.

You briefly learn what America was like at that time of great change.
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20 of 22 people found the following review helpful By Antonio Sacin on March 16, 2000
Format: Paperback
These years at the beginning of the century seemed so intense. A good read when reviewing this century that (almost) was. The author tries to write a comprehensive look at everything that was happening in the US at the time, from fashion to politics. However, make no mistake, the author's favorite topic and more richly covered is: politics. There are references at the end on the amazing amount of literary work of the era, which is tantamount. All in all, a very good introductory to that time and age, and a very good starting point for a researcher in the world of those years.
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13 of 14 people found the following review helpful By Schmerguls VINE VOICE on January 23, 2003
Format: Paperback
I liked this book. It details the history of the USA in pretty sensible chronological order from 1900 to 1920, with good description of the events during those momentous decades. It is pretty balanced, and should not offend anyone with biases one way or the other. The author is an authority on the two dominating figures of those decades, Woodrow Wilson and Theodore Roosevelt, and I read his dual study, The Warrior and the Priest: Woodrow Wilson and Theodore Roosevelt, on October 7, 1995, with much appreciation. Cooper writes in a clear style, and even tho this book read like a college textbook, hey, it is fun to read a college textbook on such interesting subjects as this book deals with. A good and worthwhile book.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By "samurai47" on October 18, 2000
Format: Paperback
I had to read this book for my US History,1914-1945 class, and I have to admit, I am quite pleased with it. It was well-organized and gives an in-depth look into the Roosevelt and Wilson presidencies. This book is a must for anyone interested in 20th-century American history.
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Karim Walker on May 17, 2001
Format: Paperback
I was required to read this book (it reads like a textbook)for an American history class I was taking in my sophomore year, and I love the book. Cooper integrated various facets (political, social, military, and cultural history) into a solid and interesting read. It can be a little dense at times, but it is a very good beginning for those interested in twentieth-century American history.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Jeremy A. Perron on July 26, 2011
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Now my march through the ages brings me to the early decades of the twentieth century. It was an era of dynamic political leadership and technological innovation of a maturing nation trying to figure out its destiny. This was a time where old ideas were being challenged and America was going to fight in an a great international conflict known as World War I. In the aftermath of the war the United States would decide if it was going to play a leadership role in the world. And that decision would to go in the opposite direction of world leadership, preferring instead retreat and withdrawal.

The century began with the reelection of the last Civil War veteran to occupy the White House. William McKinley, the 25th President of the United States, would win his re-election against William Jennings Bryan. Months into his new term, McKinley would be assassinated, and his cowboy vice president, Theodore Roosevelt, would assume the office.

One of the main themes of Copper's book is how rich America was in leadership during this time period. Each political party produced an incredible president who would help reshape the nation and the office of the presidency. The Republicans produced Theodore Roosevelt by accident. Placed in the vice presidency in an effort to get rid of him, Roosevelt would become our most dynamic president ever. No vice president who assumed the presidency had ever even been re-nominated, but Theodore Roosevelt in 1904 would go on to win a term in his own right due to his incredible performance in the White House. The Democrats produced Woodrow Wilson an academic who gained the office because of a scism within the Republican Party between Roosevelt and Taft. Wilson had studied the American political system his entire life and was about to make theory reality.
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