Synopses & Reviews
From bestselling historian H. W. Brands, an incisive chronicle of the events and trends that guided-and sometimes misguided-our nation from the A-bomb to the iPhone.
For a brief, bright moment in 1945, America stood at its apex, looking back on victory not only against the Axis powers but against the Great Depression, and looking ahead to seemingly limitless power and promise. What we've done with that power and promise over the past six decades is a vitally important and fascinating topic that has rarely been tackled in one volume, and never by a historian of H. W. Brands's stature.
As American Dreams opens, Brands shows us a country dramatically different from our own-more unequal in social terms but more equal economically, more religious and rural but also more liberal and more wholeheartedly engaged with the rest of the world. As he traces the changes we have gone through as a nation, he reveals the great themes and dreams that have driven America-the rising focus on individual rights and pleasures, the growing distance between our global goals and those of the rest of the world, and the inexorable dissolution of a shared sense of what it means to be American. In Brands's adroit hands, these trends unfold through a character-driven narrative that sheds brilliant light on the obvious highs and lows-from Watergate to the Berlin Wall, from Apollo 11 to 9/11, from My Lai to shock and awe. But he also chronicles the surprising impact of less celebrated events and trends. Through his eyes, we realize the sweeping significance of the immigration reforms of the 1960s, which gradually transformed American society. We come to grasp the vast impact of abandoning the gold standard in 1971, which enabled both globalization and the current financial crisis. We ponder the unnerving results of CNN's debut in 1979, which sped up the news cycle and permanently changed our foreign policy by putting its effects live on our TV screens.
Blending political and cultural history with his keen sense of the spirit of the times, Brands captures the national experience through the last six decades and reveals the still-unfolding legacy of dreams born out of a global cataclysm.
"Though this crisp, informal narrative overview of the last half-century of American history is long on story and short on analysis, it does its job well. Bringing his trademark clarity to the tales he tells, bestselling historian Brands (The First American) opens in post-Hiroshima days and closes in our own. He covers everything important, from politics and war to culture and society civil rights, music, the baby boom, and the middle class. But it's hard to swallow the sappy conceit of Americans as 'dreamers' with which Brands tries to thread the book together. '[T]he heart of America's dreams was the act of dreaming itself... it was encoded in the country's DNA from the beginning.' But what has dreaming to do with the cold war or the embarrassments of the Nixon and Clinton administrations or with the Great Recession? Americans' collective dramas may be on hold for the moment, Brands concludes, but individually, they are as ambitious as ever. Despite its thematic weakness, Brands's book is a fast-moving, reasonably comprehensive history of more than half a century of American history." Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
A bestselling historian delivers an incisive chronicle of the events and trends that have guided--and sometimes misguided--America, from the A-bomb to the iPhone.
The story of our nation from the A-bomb to the iPhone-from bestselling historian H.W. Brands
With keen insight and an impeccable sense of the spirit of the times, H. W. Brands, one of today's preeminent historians, captures the American experience through the last six decades. As he chronicles politics, pop culture, and everything in between, Brands traces the changes we have gone through as a nation, recounting the great themes and events that have driven America- from the Yalta conference to the fall of the Berlin Wall, Apollo 11 to 9/11, My Lai to "shock and awe." In his adroit hands, movements and trends unfold through a character- driven narrative that shines a brilliant light on America's watershed moments and reveals a still unfolding legacy of dreams.
About the Author
H.W. Brands taught at Texas A&M University for sixteen years before joining the faculty at the University of Texas at Austin, where he is the Dickson Allen Anderson Centennial Professor of History. His books include Traitor to His Class, Andrew Jackson, The Age of Gold, The First American, and TR. Traitor to His Class and The First American were finalists for the Pulitzer Prize.