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A Brief History of America

Paperback / ISBN-13: 9781472147387

Price: £12.99

ON SALE: 7th March 2024

Genre: Humanities / History

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The next in this series of admirably concise yet nevertheless comprehensive titles looks at the history of all Americans as well as America; its environmental history and its linkage to economic history; the political shaping of America; and America in the world, from being a colony to post-Cold War America.

Black examines the environmental history of America and its linkage to economic history, crucially, the clearing of forests; the spread of agriculture; mineral, coal and iron extraction; industrialisation; urbanisation; and current and growing climate-crisis concerns.

He explores the political shaping of America: indigenous American polities; free European and unfree African settlements; the creation of an American State, and its successes and failures from 1783 to 1861; Civil War; democratisation; the rise of the federal Government from the 1930s; the Civil Rights movement from the 1950s onwards, and tensions in more recent governance.

The book considers America in the World: as a pre-colonial and colonised space; as a newly-independent power, then a rising international one, the Cold War and the USA as the sole superpower in the post-Cold-War world.

These key themes are tackled chronologically for the sake of clarity, beginning with the geological creation of North America, human settlement and native American cultures to 1500; the arrival of Europeans and enslaved Africans to 1770 – the Spanish and French in the Gulf of Mexico and Florida, the English and French, and the Dutch and Swedes further north.

The focus then shifts to settler conflicts with native Americans and between European powers leading to a British-dominated North America by 1770. Then the end of European rule and the foundation of an American trans-continental state. The section dealing with the years from 1848 to 1880 looks at the Civil War between North and South, reconstruction and the creation of a new society.

Between 1880 and 1920, the United States became an industrial powerhouse and an international power, also a colonial power – the Philippines, Hawaii, Puerto Rico – and a participant in the First World War.

The interwar years, 1921 to 1945, brought turmoil: the Roaring Twenties; the growth of Hollywood; Prohibition; jazz; the Great Depression and the New Deal; finally the Second World War.

1945 to 1968 was the American Age, brimming with confidence and success as the world’s leading power, but also the ongoing struggle for civil rights.

Subsequent years to 1992 brought crisis and recovery: Watergate, the Reagan years and the USA as the sole world superpower.

In bringing the book right up to the present day, Black looks at factors that divide American society and economy, though it remains a country of tremendous energy.

Brief Histories