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The American Century

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    Available in PDF - DJVU Format | The American Century.pdf | Language: ENGLISH

"In a style at once trenchant and easygoing,
Harold Evans leads us on a walk through
the century now drawing to a close, taking us
back over ground that far too many of us
have let slip from our memories."
--Shelby Foote, author of The Civil War


The American Century is an epic work. With its spectacular illustrations and incisive and lucid writing, it is as exciting and inspiring as the hundred years it surveys. Harold Evans has dramatized a people's struggle to achieve the American Dream, but also offers a thoughtful and provocative analysis of the great movements and events in America's rise to a position of political and cultural dominance. There are 900 photographs, several hundred brought to light for the first time, and the richly researched narrative offers many surprises.

In 1889, when the United States entered the second hundred years of its existence, it was by no means certain that a nation of such diverse peoples, manifold beliefs, and impossible ideals could survive its own exceptional experiment in democracy or manage to avoid a headlong slide into oblivion. Evans describes what happened to the democratic ideal amid the clash of personalities and the convulsions of great events. Here are assessments of the century's nineteen presidents, from Benjamin Harrison, who brought the Stars and Stripes into American life in 1889, to the movie star who waved it so vigorously a hundred years later. Here are the muckrakers who exposed the evils of rampant capitalism, and the women who fought to make a reality of the rhetoric of equality. Here are the robber barons--the Carnegies, the Rockefellers, and the Morgans -- carving out great empires of unparalleled wealth, turning their millions into foundations for public benefit. Here are Al Capone and J. Edgar Hoover, Martin Luther King Jr. and the Ku Klux Klan, Joe McCarthy and Dwight Eisenhower. Here is the American heartland at peace (but on the wagon), America in two world wars, and at war with itself in the sixties.

Evans analyzes the central questions of the era. Among them: How did the tradition arise that government should not meddle in business? How did anti-colonial America become an imperial power? How much was democracy threatened by the influence of money? What was the nature of American isolationism? Why did Woodrow Wilson take the United States into World War I? What caused the Great Depression, and why did it last so long? Did Franklin Roosevelt's New Deal succeed or fail? Did the protests of the sixties go too far? Was Vietnam a noble cause? Has the Watergate scandal been blown up out of all proportion? Who deserves the credit for the end of the Cold War?

Throughout, Harold Evans lets us see how America prospered because of the power of an idea: the idea of freedom. The nation did not simply become the largest economic and military power, send men to the moon and jeans and consumer capitalism to Red Square--it strengthened Western society through acts of courage, generosity, and vision unequaled in history.

The British may claim the nineteenth century by force, and the Chinese may cast a long shadow over the twenty-first, but the twentieth century belongs to the United States. This is America's story as it has never been told before.

With 900 photographs

"Written in the liveliest historical prose I have come across in a long while...[illustrated with] a gallery of images, striking in its variety and pungency, representative without being hackneyed"--David S. Reynolds, N.Y. Times Book Review"This is history to enjoy, engagingly written, splendidly illustrated" --Neil Sheehan, author of A Bright and Shining Lie"In a style at once trenchant and easygoing, Harold Evans leads us on a walk through the century now drawing to a close, taking us back over ground that far too many of us have let slip from our memories" --Shelby Foote, author of The Civil War"An astute, evocative, challenging, wonderfully readable and gloriously illustrated history"        --Arthur Schlesinger, Jr."Major and inspiring" "-Vartan Gregorian"A wide-ranging, politically detached view of the shaping events of the century. It is excellent prose with wonderful pictures. I much enjoyed it, as I think will all"        --John Kenneth Galbraith"A book every family should have" --General Colin L. Powell, (Rtd.)"A sumptuous memory-book of an astonishing time" --Geoffrey C. WardFrom the Hardcover edition. tyle at once trenchant and easygoing, Harold Evans leads us on a walk through the century now drawing to a close, taking us back over ground that far too many of us have let slip from our memories."--Shelby Foote, author of The Civil WarThe American Century is an epic work. With its spectacular illustrations and incisive and lucid writing, it is as exciting and inspiring as the hundred years it surveys. Harold Evans has dramatized a people's struggle to achieve the American Dream, but also offers a thoughtful and provocative analysis of the great movements and events in America's rise to a position of political and cultural dominance. There are 900 photographs, several hundred brought to light for the first time, and the richly researched narrative offers many surprises.In 1889, when the United States entered the second hundred years of its existence, it was by no means certain that a nation of such di

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Book details

  • PDF | 736 pages
  • Knopf; First Edition edition (October 24, 2000)
  • English
  • 7
  • History

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Review Text

  • By Pranay Gupte on October 1, 1998

    Harold Evans has produced a tour de force. This is a tribute to America from a loving immigrant--a man who has gained international fame as an editor and writer, first in his native Britain and later in the United States. Evans has produced a superb history of 20th century America, but his book starts in the last century so as to give us a perspective on what was to follow. The research is prodigious; the selection of photographs is stunning; the writing is elegant and unintrusive. This is a book meant to be savored page by page--and to be handed down as a heirloom.

  • By Shern Kier on March 16, 2012

    As a collector of Industrial era biographies, this is an interesting addition. Lots of little tibits of information and an easy read. There is not much that this book does not touch on, civil rights, gender equality, industrial fortunes, wall street greed, etc.

  • By Texas Proud on May 18, 2000

    The authors cover many of the events that occurred during the timeframe so I believe you can get some decent background info from the book. However, it is very political and seems to blame the country for not adopting a social welfare state much sooner. In many areas, it is too superficial and quickly concludes "where was a government program to cure these ills of history" and doesn't really explore the causes of problems. Case in point, American farmers fed the world during WW-1 as European agriculture was in shambles. That allowed American farmers to enjoy strong prices and high incomes in the war years. But in the 1920s, the European farmers were back and the market suffered from classic oversupply and farm incomes declined. The authors don't report that or even classify the war years as an anomoly for farmers. Instead, they focus on the unfairness that the farmers didn't participate to the same degree in the prosperity of the 1920s. The tone gets very upset with thoughts that the federal government should have prevented this like our wonderful never-ending farm programs of today that have us subsidizing the growth of tobacco and mohair wool. In other areas, the book is wrong. For example, it traces the formation of the Federal Reserve System to JP Morgan's inability to stem the bank failures and outflow of gold in the Panic of 1907. Actually, Morgan was very successful in rescuing the powerless federal government and raising gold in Europe to prop up our banks. The Federal Reserve System arose as the government was worried about having one private man being able to wield so much financial power. All in all, the historical background is there and is a good primer, but be prepared to listen to a lecture of what is fair and right and what is not.

  • By Lithobius on July 5, 2011

    This book is a fabulous history of life during the American industrial revolution when the 'American dreeam' for many Americans was a 'nightmare.' When 'landgrabs' were the rule and workers had no 'rights.' Only after the Wilson administration did life become more comfortable. It is a chronicle of American History right up to 'modern times.' It makes one realize how much we were NOT taught in school, and how much we may have forgotten. It DOES belong on every American bookshelf!!!

  • By Guest on November 5, 2017

    Very Good

  • By John P. Engledew on January 12, 2013

    One of my favourite reads in the subject. Covers, political, economic and social matters and well illustrated. Makes a good gift for cerebral relaxation.

  • By Gerald Brennan on April 3, 2005

    You don't really need to read "The American Century" in any particular order. It's the perfect book to play "history roulette" with; on a lazy Sunday when you're sitting by your coffee table, open it at random and you can learn about, say, the 1954 US-supported coup in Guatemala, or the "Accidental Empire" the U.S. amassed after the Spanish-American War, or the struggles between John D. Rockefeller's companies and unionizing miners, or the race riots that gutted Detroit in 1967. Or, better yet, skip the coffee table and put a copy atop your toilet tank--while it's a great living room book, it's an even better bathroom book. Not only can you read it in any order, you can read a lot or a little without feeling short-changed, and you will invariably feel better for having done so. When nature calls, this book will make you look forward to answering.Even better than its structure, though, is its author's clear and easy prose style, and even better than that is his general refusal to write an ideological tome like, say, Howard Zinn's "People's History of the United States." Harold Evans doesn't buy all the conventional wisdom of the left or the right. When writing about the labor movement, for instance, he shows the excesses and the violence of the "company goon" days of the early 1900s, but he also looks favorably on Reagan's decision to fire striking air traffic controllers in 1981. Or when looking at anti-communism in the 1950s, he decries the excesses of McCarthyism but also says that Nixon was fair in his prosecution of Alger Hiss, and that Julius Rosenberg (cause celebre of the American Left) was, in fact, a Soviet spy.Evans intersperses the book with great little character sketches about the Presidents who served during these years. F.D.R and T.R., Wilson and Nixon: all come to life with brief vignettes and quotes describing their personalities and their various paths to power.It's not a perfect book--Evans buys too many of the standard journalistic mantras about, say, the Reagan tax cuts, and his coverage of corporate America slacks towards the end of the book, and he completely neglects to mention the Challenger explosion, one of the landmark events of the 1980s. But it is a great book, an intellectual swimming pool of sorts--you can hop in for a quick dip or dive in for hours of mental exercise. If you're anything like me, you'll find yourself reading and re-reading it, getting a great overview of a century of American successes and excesses--and enjoying yourself all the while.


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