Expertly steering readers through the often tumultuous and exhilarating history of the United States, from its early modern Native American roots to twenty-first-century neoliberalism and the shifting political climate of the past decade, this highly readable textbook provides a compelling overview of American development over the last five centuries.
This book avoids either celebratory or condemnatory rhetoric to present a critical examination of domestic America and its interaction with the rest of the world. Balancing coverage of political, social, cultural, and economic history, each chapter also includes a wealth of features to facilitate learning:
- Timelines situating key events in their wider chronology
- Lists of topics covered within each chapter for easy reference
- Concept boxes discussing selected issues in more detail
- Historiography boxes exploring key debates
- Chapter summaries offering condensed outlines of the main themes of each chapter
- Further reading lists guiding readers to additional resources
- Maps and images bringing to life important events and figures from America’s history
Clearly and engagingly written and positioning America’s narrative within the wider global context, this textbook is particularly accessible for non-US students and is the perfect introduction for those new to US history.
This textbook is also supported by a companion website offering interactive content including a timeline, multiple-choice quizzes, and links to selected web resources.
Table of Contents
1 In Indian Country
2 A provincial society in an Atlantic World
3 The revolution that made a republic
4 A union and a nation
5 The growth of the white republic
6 Problems of slavery, freedom, and sectionalism in the antebellum US
7 Civil War and the wars of Reconstruction
8 Western conquest, white supremacy, and the rise of a superpower
9 The rise of imperial America
10 State building in the United States
11 Depression and New Deal America
12 From neutrality to war
13 Cold war America, 1945–1954
14 Prosperity and crisis in the 1950s
15 The turbulent sixties
16 Economic turmoil and conservative triumph, 1969–1988
17 The age of neoliberalism, 1989–2016
David Brown is Senior Lecturer in American Studies at the University of Manchester, UK.
Thomas Heinrich is Associate Professor in US Business History at Baruch College, City University of New York, USA.
Simon Middleton is Associate Professor in History at the College of William & Mary, USA.
Vivien Miller is Professor of American History at the University of Nottingham, UK.
"A Concise American History is an impressive achievement. It is wide-ranging in scope, rigorous but accessible, and attentive to complexity and nuance without sacrificing clarity or narrative drive. Each chapter covers a great deal of ground in an insightful way, but the reader benefits from helpful chapter summaries and 'concept boxes' to aid understanding. The book successfully places US economic, social, and political development from colonial times to the present in wider global context."
Jonathan Bell, University College London, UK
"This book provides an excellent introduction to US history. Its authors, distinguished scholars in their fields, bring to bear a unique global perspective on the subject since they were themselves educated abroad or teach abroad. The text sweeps aside the myths often still taught in American schools, avoids hagiography of national political figures, and provides careful analysis of the major events and developments."
Carol Berkin, City University of New York, USA
"This authoritative and fast-paced text, admirably attentive to global connections, introduces readers to the turbulent history of the United States from the colonial era to the present day. Highly recommended to anyone seeking a reliable and readable account of the restless American Republic and its formative role in the making of the modern world."
Robert Cook, University of Sussex, UK
"This textbook accomplishes something highly distinctive in its field – it introduces students to the huge breadth of American History (from 1492 to the present) while directing them toward an appreciation of interdisciplinary and interlinking concepts of the subject. Students will find it a highly accessible text that gives them a firm basis for understanding the USA, both in domestic policy and foreign relations. Indeed, this text should also establish itself as an essential teaching tool in American survey courses."
Lee Sartain, University of Portsmouth, UK
"A Concise American History offers a compelling account of the highly indeterminate, four-century-long formation of 'what we know today as the United States.' It is compelling precisely because it is indeterminate, steering clear of both progressivist and declensionist narratives to instead provide readers with an account woven of ‘continuity and change…development and destruction.’ It does so through a commitment to multiple historical approaches – including social, cultural, and transnational explanatory frameworks – and a carefully conceived thematic framework. With clarifying timelines, organizational roadmaps, discussion questions, and helpful lists of further reading accompanying the text and images, this accessibly written text paints for students a picture of a country predicated on ambition and conflict, on achievement and suffering, on plurality and power, in equal measure…a national history not, if we are honest with ourselves, easily summarized, but one that is all the more fascinating when we accept its complexity.
ACAH distinguishes itself from many other U.S. History textbooks particularly in its agile selection of interpretive emphases. At moments, we see events through prevailing notions of identity or human difference – as in passages describing the course of European colonialization of North America, Native American genocide, slavery, women’s suffrage, immigrant experiences, and the long Civil Rights era. In other historical episodes, political and economic ideologies are highlighted – we follow the nineteenth-century rise of industrial capitalism and the discontent of reformers, for example, while later the authors trace conflicting conceptions of what shall constitute just labor systems and representative government, into our own neoliberal era. The roles played by racial ideologies, imperialism, and nationalism, alongside commitments to democracy and liberation, over many generations will be inescapable for readers.
Crucially, with such through-lines, the dramatic turning points of U.S. history – settlement, emancipation, wars both domestic and foreign, elections, depressions, legal landmarks, and environmental disaster – are placed firmly in context, losing none of their customary chronological centrality, but finding deeper explanatory resonance. When students can follow the emergence of value systems through time, rather than simply a sequence of significant events, specific historical incidents become far more instructive; when readers can readily associate influential individuals with their historical milieus, a world and not just its exceptional actors comes into focus. With these priorities and an abundance of well-chosen factual detail throughout, A Concise American History promises to provide students with a platform for exceptionally rich engagement with the nation’s past, and even more welcome perhaps, with its present."
Amy E. Slaton, Drexel University, USA
"This ambitious, highly accessible book is essential reading for anyone teaching or studying introductory-level courses on US history. Exploring chronologically the last five centuries of America, it deftly weaves in a range of themes and perspectives, positioning the US within a wider global context throughout. Avoiding overly simplistic narratives, the book includes helpful analytical boxes where complex themes and historiographies are elaborated in a clear and comprehensive fashion."
Emily West, University of Reading, UK