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A Very Different Age: Americans of the Progressive Era Hardcover – October, 1997

ISBN-13: 978-0809025534 ISBN-10: 0809025531 Edition: 1st

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--This text refers to the Paperback edition.

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Hill & Wang Pub; 1 edition (October 1997)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0809025531
  • ISBN-13: 978-0809025534
  • Product Dimensions: 1.2 x 6 x 8.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 13.6 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 3.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,142,498 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Library Journal

Diner (history, George Mason Univ.) examines the dramatic social, economic, political, and other changes experienced by Americans during the first two decades of the 20th century. Incorporating a wide variety of recent historical interpretations, Diner synthesizes the forces that brought the United States into the modern era. The author is adept at summarizing the work of other historians in the roughly ten topics with which he deals. The writing is succinct and fluid, making these chapters excellent introductions to the topics. One major shortcoming is that Diner seems not to have been given adequate space to expand on points he raises in the text. Thus, he sometimes seems derivative. Nonetheless, this rewarding social history is an excellent book for both experienced historians and novices.?Charles K. Piehl, Mankato State Univ., Minn.
Copyright 1997 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From Kirkus Reviews

While covering no especially new ground, Diner (History/George Mason Univ.) compiles a cohesive look at one of the most change-filled eras in American history. Diner's view of the Progressive era, stressing the effects of the Industrial Revolution on American society, concentrates on the lives and experiences of workers, women, African-Americans, immigrants, and politicians in that period. With the exception of the latter, there is substantial overlap. For instance, Diner's discussion of the rise of unionization in the face of increased industrial output describes not only the lives of the laborers who unionized, but the experiences of women entering the work force, blacks who were systematically excluded from most unions, and immigrants who were particularly active in the labor movement. The political reaction to the whole process is fittingly summarized by Diner as a case of government responding ``not only with the carrot of union recognition and mediation but with the stick of suppression of radicals''--culminating in the jailing of labor leader Eugene V. Debs not only for his strike activities, but for his antiWW I stance during the first ``Red Scare.'' In general, Diner sees the Progressive era as bringing some limited successes but many failures to much of the population. Women ultimately gained suffrage in 1920, but after WW I, African-Americans returned to the dismal prospects of pre-Progressivism America. Diner asserts that the acts of progressive politicians and social reformers in general were sometimes genuine but mostly selfish: Teddy Roosevelt attacking corporate monopoly as it suited his needs, and Woodrow Wilson segregating formerly integrated government departments. Diner is left to conclude that ``progressives, like other Americans, joined a contest for control under rules set by industrial capitalism.'' Through solid research and apposite anecdotes, Diner is able to demonstrate the emergence of both problems and ideas that still persist in our own ``very different age.'' Sobering and useful. -- Copyright ©1997, Kirkus Associates, LP. All rights reserved.

Customer Reviews

3.3 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

10 of 10 people found the following review helpful By Joseph P. Knitt on July 30, 2007
Format: Paperback
Steven Diner's A Very Different Age is a social history of the common man during the "Progressive" years in American history (circa 1890's through 1910's). Rather than focus on specific events or people, the book investigates society as a whole. In effect Diner is saying that while individuals make the history books, the group is what makes history happen.

Diner organizes the book in a mostly chronological manner. He starts with the crises of the 1890's in his prologue and ends his final chapter dealing with World War One in the late 1910's. Every time period in between deals with a different set of people, but follows in a roughly chronological fashion.

If Diner is arguing that the people are the protagonists of history, then what they are acting for seems to be a better station in life. Business owners struggle against managers at the turn of the century in order to establish a more efficient factory, while managers strike back in order to preserve their well-being and way of life. Workers square off against their managers and business owners in order to establish safer working conditions and fair pay, while the owners attempt to suppress such uprisings to keep their profit margins high. Immigrants strive to raise their status by scooping up whatever work they can find (mostly low paying factory jobs) so that they can achieve a better life either in America or in their home country, while native-born Americans and previous generations of immigrants ostracize them as being a different and therefore inferior race.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on July 12, 1999
Format: Hardcover
This book offers personal stories of those involved in the changing times of the Progressive Era. Diner drives home the point of the competition between Americans at this time. The competition for jobs, leisure time, consumer goods, etc. Someone who already is familiar with the Progressive Era would be bored, but for those just starting it is a good book.
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9 of 12 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on August 22, 1999
Format: Hardcover
This is a relatively short but cohesive social history of the progressive era. Diner's primary aim is to decipt of the attempts of many sectors of American to adapt the demands of industrial capitalism. This book is written well and a nice complement to other histories oriented towards politics and legislation. Diner also does well to review the efforts of groups not typically covered in conventional histories of the period, such as managers and professionals. An insightful and useful book.
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