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The American Dream: From Reconstruction to Reagan, Volume 3

ISBN: 978-1-55786-589-2
692 pages
February 1996, Wiley-Blackwell
The American Dream: From Reconstruction to Reagan, Volume 3 (1557865892) cover image
This volume begins in a period in which bitterness and revenge vied with hope and a new ideal of liberty. The Reconstruction imposed by the North upon the South is examined by the author from all points of view. He traces the steps by which the economy recovered and by which the USA emerged as the world's industrial giant. Factors as various as the anarchy of the Wild West and the gold rush, the completion of the railroad system, the maturing of the great centers of learning, the numerous manifestations of opportunity and strength led to the formation of a distinct culture and to a new consciousness of nationhood. They also gave birth, Professor Wright argues, to the American Dream, an elusive idea of such force that it informed much of the twentieth century in the USA and, as American power became pre-eminent, influenced the world at large. After describing the key American involvement in the European, Pacific and Asian wars, and the development of culture, politics, and ideology at home, the author examines the dissipation of that dream in the disillusion and corruption of the Reagan years.
Ironically, this was the time when the USA emerged as the world's sole super-power. And the country remained - as it had been for almost all its history - the ideal destination for the poor and downtrodden of the world, a beacon of opportunity, hope and, above all, of liberty.
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Maps.

Plate.

Chronologies.

Foreword.

General Chronology.

Introduction: From Appomattox to Reagan:.

1. The American Dream.

2. Reconstruction.

3. The Entrepreneurs.

4. The Presidency in the Gilded Age.

5. Empire.

6. The Learned Presidency.

7. World War I.

8. Puritans in Babylon.

9. FDR and the New Deal.

10. World War II.

11. Harry S. Truman and the Cold War.

12. Ike, Supreme Commander in Europe.

13. JFK, LBJ, and Vietnam.

14. The Civil Rights Movement.

15. Nixon, Watergate and Kissinger.

16. Ronald Reagan: The Man who Won the Cold War.

17. The Fragmentation of the Dream.

Chronologies.

Bibliographies.

Index.

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Esmond Wright is a graduate of the Universities of Durham in England and of Virginia in the United States (where in 1940 he received his degree from Franklin D Roosevelt). After service in the British Eighth Army in the Second World War, he pursued an academic career, teaching at the Universities of Glasgow, London, Yale, Pennsylvania, Tennessee and Ohio State. From 1970 to 1983 he was director of the Institute of US Studies at the University of London.
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  • A vivid narrative account of the rise of the USA to economic pre-eminence in the 1920s and world political leadership in the 1990s
  • In internal matters focusses on the three key linked themes of US history since the civil war - identity, race and immigration.
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"The American Dream covers a broad canvas, with insight, sympathy, and a critical eye. Esmond Wright knows the United States intimately, and he has tracked it through its many triumphs and its many crises. Few historians have the scope he has, and thus few books arise from such a clear understanding of the country. This is a wonderfully written, perceptively interpreted, and deeply read account of where the country is today; it should help many readers to a better understanding of where it is going as well." Robin W. Winks, Townsend Professor of History, Yale University

"Wright has produced a work that justifies his many years of scholarship and by virtue of its magnitude and vigour, makes it difficult to recognise their duration. It is unlikely that a comparable achievement will be forthcoming in the foreseeable future." The Times Higher Education Supplement

"It will stand as one of the most impressive achievements in historical scholarship and writing in the last years of this century... In this final volume we have a magnificent account which can be read and enjoyed - and occasionally disagreed with - by anyone who has lived through or observed some of these decades in the story of the world's only remaining super-power." Richard Mullen, Contemporary Review, Literary Supplement

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