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The Limits of Liberty: American History, 1607-1980 (Short Oxford History of the Modern World) Paperback – Dec 1983

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Product details

  • Paperback: 700 pages
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press; First Edition edition (Dec. 1983)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0199131309
  • ISBN-13: 978-0199131303
  • Product Dimensions: 15.6 x 3.2 x 23.3 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 725,296 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Nicholas Casley TOP 500 REVIEWER on 7 Jun. 2012
Format: Paperback
This is a review of the original 1983 edition, part of Oxford University Press's series on the history of the modern world. (According to the Guardian's obituary of Maldwyn Jones, who died in 2007, the second edition of 1995 added a discussion on "the conservative revival of the 1980s and the presidential election of 1992. It remains the most authoritative and comprehensive single-authored survey of American history to date.") The original edition has twenty-eight chapter, fifteen maps, and five tables, details of which are given at the end of this review.

"The United States began as an extension of Europe. In some important respects it remained one." These are Jones's opening words, full of insight. He continues, "Yet even the first colonial settlements were never an exact replica of Europe. Right from the start American society and culture diverged from European models." Much about the American character is explained by Jones, but not the American penchant for referring to themselves with a middle initial, examples of which appear on virtually every page: indeed, it is notable when someone is not named in this fashion.

Jones punctures a few myths of the founding of the first colonies, but his work on their early history is relatively brief compared to subsequent years. For example, the first one hundred years of the colonies are contained within the opening twenty-page chapter, and independence from Britain is gained by the end of chapter three. Following chapters, though still following a broadly chronological progress, become based on themes: politics, economy, society, growth. Each chapter is about the right length, taking me about an hour each to read.
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