Master your Minecraft
 
 

Special Offers see all

Enter to WIN a $100 Credit

Subscribe to PowellsBooks.news
for a chance to win.
Privacy Policy

Tour our stores


    Recently Viewed clear list


    What I'm Giving | November 28, 2014

    Eleanor Catton: IMG Eleanor Catton: What I'm Giving



    At Powell's, we feel the holidays are the perfect time to share our love of books with those close to us. For this special blog series, we reached... Continue »

    spacer

This item may be
out of stock.

Click on the button below to search for this title in other formats.


Check for Availability
Add to Wishlist

This title in other editions

Rebirth of a Nation: The Making of Modern America, 1877-1920 (American History)

Rebirth of a Nation: The Making of Modern America, 1877-1920 (American History) Cover

ISBN13: 9780060747497
ISBN10: 0060747498
All Product Details

 

Review-A-Day

"A cruelly ironic twist, noted by Jackson Lears in his thought-provoking Rebirth of a Nation, is that the Fourteenth Amendment, originally conceived to protect former slaves, was used to protect corporations in Santa Clara County v. Southern Pacific Railroad (1886). Lears writes, 'what began as a measure to confer rights on ex-slaves became a boon for big business.'" Paul Devlin, The Brooklyn Rail (read the entire Brooklyn Rail review)

Synopses & Reviews

Publisher Comments:

In the half-century between the Civil War and World War I, widespread yearning for a new beginning permeated American public life. Dreams of spiritual, moral, and physical rebirth formed the foundation for the modern United States, inspiring its leaders with imperial ambition. Theodore Roosevelt's desire to recapture frontier vigor led him to promote U.S. interests throughout Latin America. Woodrow Wilson's vision of a reborn international order drew him into a war to end war. Andrew Carnegie's embrace of philanthropy coincided with his creation of the world's first billion-dollar corporation, United States Steel. Presidents and entrepreneurs helped usher the nation into the modern era, but sometimes the consequences of their actions failed to match the grandeur of their hopes.

Award-winning historian Jackson Lears richly chronicles this momentous period when America reunited and began to form the world power of the twentieth century. Lears vividly captures imperialists, Gilded Age mavericks, and vaudeville entertainers, and illuminates the roles played by a variety of seekers, male and female, from populist farmers to avant-garde artists and writers to progressive reformers. Some were motivated by their own visions of Christianity; all were swept up in longings for revitalization.

In these years marked by wrenching social conflict and vigorous political debate, a modern America emerged and came to dominance on a world stage. Illuminating and authoritative, Rebirth of a Nation brilliantly weaves the remarkable story of this crucial epoch into a masterful work of history.

Review:

On a September afternoon in 1915, detectives from the Kansas City police force fitted Ehrich Weiss into their strongest straitjacket and tightened the straps. A crane proceeded to hoist the bound man by his ankles. Dangling high above the street, he tossed and writhed and broke free, dropping the straitjacket into a crowd of 5,000 dazzled spectators.

To his adoring fans, Weiss,... Washington Post Book Review (read the entire Washington Post review)

Synopsis:

"Fascinating.... A major work by a leading historian at the top of his game—at once engaging and tightly argued." —The New York Times Book Review

“Dazzling cultural history: smart, provocative, and gripping. It is also a book for our times, historically grounded, hopeful, and filled with humane, just, and peaceful possibilities.” —The Washington Post

An illuminating and authoritative history of America in the years between the Civil War and World War I, Jackson Learss Rebirth of a Nation was named one of the best books of 2009 by The Washington Post, The Chicago Tribune, and The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.

About the Author

Jackson Lears is Board of Governors Professor of History at Rutgers University and the editor of Raritan: A Quarterly Review. The author of Fables of Abundance (winner of the Los Angeles Times Book Prize for history), Something for Nothing, and No Place of Grace, Lears writes for The New York Times, The Washington Post, and The New Republic. He lives in western New Jersey.

What Our Readers Are Saying

Add a comment for a chance to win!
Average customer rating based on 1 comment:

OneMansView, September 30, 2009 (view all comments by OneMansView)
A sobering look at American conceits and delusions

This very incisive, though often quite critical, book examines some of the major cultural currents in American society from the end of Reconstruction through WWI. It is the prevailing thinking and psychology of the period that most concerns the author. The book is not intended to be a detailed history of the era, but the author does examine such issues and developments as race, immigration, the degradation of labor, the rise of huge corporations, economic instability, consumerism, populism, progressivism, imperialism, militarism, etc, as well as reinvention of the self.

There is little doubt that the nation was in need of “regeneration” after the horrors of the Civil War. But that renewal was accomplished at the expense of those who were brutally affected by the Southern plantation system. The War was recast as an arena for heroic Anglo-Saxons, now united in their bravery regardless of which side they were on. By the last decade of the century, emancipation had given way to Jim Crow and, even worse, widespread lynching of those who did not kowtow. This spread of racism, heroism, and militarism dominated the ensuing decades. The author describes at length a national obsession among the upper classes of asserting and proving manliness. What better way to show superiority than to subject the brown peoples of the world to Yankee imperialism backed by the military? Theodore Roosevelt, in the author’s eyes, is the epitome of such thinking and actions. The author scarcely hides his disdain for the obsession of elites with individual adventure and even bodybuilding.

Of course, a huge development in post-Civil War America was the rise of enormous corporations and their huge impact on workers and the broader culture. The Farmers’ Alliance, the Populists, the Knights of Labor, the AFL, and the Socialists were all organizations that sought to counter corporate control of the economy and the degradation of work via mechanization and scientific management. They extolled the virtues of “producers” and sought to establish some form of cooperative commonwealth. Perhaps most important to them was democratic control of the financial system of the US. The chaos of economic cycles and principles of “hard” money always disproportionately affected workers and farmers.

Part of the rebirth of the nation can be looked at as attempts for purification. That took many forms: racial purity, assertion of manliness versus effeteness, and abstinence from alcohol. The Progressive movement can be seen as an effort of elites and experts to purify the economy: child labor laws, anti-trust legislation, reform of the banking system, and the like. As the author notes, their efforts were heavily compromised. Enhanced managerialism was emphasized over fundamental economic restructuring desired by populist groups and administrative regulation was usually adopted over statutory reform, which left corporations and their insiders firmly in charge. Woodrow Wilson succumbed to the impulses of purification and American assertiveness by involving the US in WWI at a great cost in lives with nothing to show for it. Though the author finds that Wilson’s ultimate failures mark the end of an era beset by any number of delusions, the New Deal was able to draw upon this era, but without the same zeal and fantasies.

This book is relevant in regards to the making of modern America in several ways. There has been no abatement in the dominance of US corporations, US worldwide economic hegemony, the necessity of the regulatory state, and the driving force of consumerism. Perhaps less appealing is the same tendency to delusional thinking: the reliance on robust militarism and the conceit that the American political and economic systems can be force fed to nations around the world.

The book is definitely far more sobering than the title may suggest. There is not a whole lot of admiration for the grandiose thinking that has been and continues to be a significant part of American culture. While the book is quite interesting, it is not without a certain amount of meandering, vagueness, and unnecessary repetition, but not to the extent that makes the book unreadable or not worthwhile. The book has a superb bibliographical note.
Was this comment helpful? | Yes | No
(4 of 4 readers found this comment helpful)

Product Details

ISBN:
9780060747497
Subtitle:
The Making of Modern America, 1877-1920
Publisher:
Harper
Author:
Lears, Jackson
Subject:
General
Subject:
United States - 19th Century/Gilded Age
Subject:
United States - 20th Century (1900-1945)
Subject:
United States Civilization 1865-1918.
Subject:
General History
Subject:
US History-19th Century
Subject:
US History - 20th Century
Edition Description:
Hardcover
Series:
American History
Publication Date:
20090609
Binding:
Hardback
Grade Level:
General/trade
Language:
English
Illustrations:
Y
Pages:
432
Dimensions:
9 x 6 x 1.34695 in 21.2 oz

Related Subjects

History and Social Science » US History » 1860 to 1920
History and Social Science » US History » 19th Century
History and Social Science » US History » 20th Century » General
History and Social Science » World History » General

Rebirth of a Nation: The Making of Modern America, 1877-1920 (American History)
0 stars - 0 reviews
$ In Stock
Product details 432 pages Harper - English 9780060747497 Reviews:
"Review A Day" by , "A cruelly ironic twist, noted by Jackson Lears in his thought-provoking Rebirth of a Nation, is that the Fourteenth Amendment, originally conceived to protect former slaves, was used to protect corporations in Santa Clara County v. Southern Pacific Railroad (1886). Lears writes, 'what began as a measure to confer rights on ex-slaves became a boon for big business.'" (read the entire Brooklyn Rail review)
"Synopsis" by , "Fascinating.... A major work by a leading historian at the top of his game—at once engaging and tightly argued." —The New York Times Book Review

“Dazzling cultural history: smart, provocative, and gripping. It is also a book for our times, historically grounded, hopeful, and filled with humane, just, and peaceful possibilities.” —The Washington Post

An illuminating and authoritative history of America in the years between the Civil War and World War I, Jackson Learss Rebirth of a Nation was named one of the best books of 2009 by The Washington Post, The Chicago Tribune, and The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.

spacer
spacer
  • back to top

FOLLOW US ON...

     
Powell's City of Books is an independent bookstore in Portland, Oregon, that fills a whole city block with more than a million new, used, and out of print books. Shop those shelves — plus literally millions more books, DVDs, and gifts — here at Powells.com.