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Customer Review

on February 24, 2002
This collection of essays probably merits 3.5 stars because it actually does live up to its title; it presents a collection of essays covering "The New American History." I refer to it as somewhat new because, as has always been the case in "American" history, the story of people of color and women gets short shrift. The essays were originally compiled to expose high school history teachers to the latest historical research and interpretations going on in particular subject areas in an effort to keep them abreast of the changes in historical philosophy, approach, and perspective. It illustrates these current trends by presenting 16 essays with titles such as, "Society, Politics, and the Market Revolution, 1815-1848", "Slavery, Civil War, and Reconstruction","Intellectual and Cultural History", and "The History of the Family and the History of Sexuality." Of the 16 essays, only two deal with African-American history, 1 deals with ethnicity and immigration, and only 1 is about women. While the book leans toward social history, which is the current historical wave, and consciously points to the fact that the old approaches to American history (the exclusive study of white, male, wealthy, political and military leaders) needed revising, it short-changes blacks, women, and other people of color just as the old American history does. With that said, 4 out of 16 is 25% which, unfortunately, might be a little more history of "others" than most middle-aged Americans were ever exposed to. This book is still good for anyone, particularly any high school history teacher, who needs to understand that history is constructed, open to interpretation, and ever evolving. And the historical references at the end of each chapter are almost worth the price of the book alone. Get it if you think you need it.
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