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The Penguin History of the United States of America by [Brogan, Hugh]
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The Penguin History of the United States of America Kindle Edition

4.0 out of 5 stars 47 customer reviews

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Length: 756 pages Word Wise: Enabled Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled
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Product Description

About the Author

Hugh Brogan was educated at Repton School and Cambridge. He worked on the Economist for two years before his first visit to the United States as a Harkness Fellow in 1962. He was a Fellow of St John's College, Cambridge from 1963 to 1974 and thereafter, until his retirement in 1998, taught at the University of Essex. He has several published works, the most recent of which is 'Signalling from Mars: Selected Letters of Arthur Ransome' (1997).

Product details

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 3310 KB
  • Print Length: 756 pages
  • Page Numbers Source ISBN: 014025255X
  • Publisher: Penguin; 2Rev Ed edition (29 Mar. 2001)
  • Sold by: Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B002RI920M
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Enabled
  • Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars 47 customer reviews
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #42,944 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
Prof. Brogan can little have suspected when he wrote the first edition in 1983, or updated it in 1995, that the USA would be thrust centre-stage quite so dramatically as it was on the morning of September 11th 2001. Yet, anyone seeking explanations of the American response since, or Americans seeking reasons for the apparent mixed feelings which the rest of the world harbours about their country will find many answers in this wide-ranging and comprehensive study
The book covers the period from the voyage of Columbus to nearly the present day. It is densely packed with fact which illustrates political, economic, and social progress of the USA. The period up to and including the Civil war is dealt with dutifully but unenthusiastically, and the period from '83 to '95 is slightly glib, but the strength of the book is the period from the civil war to the Vietnam war.
Prof Brogan's enthusiasm for the country and admiration of the indomitable spirit of the people shines through in this middle section. I found myself surprised at the extent to which what through British eyes seems eccentric or idiosyncratic behaviour (eg. some of the states' rights, kitchen cabinets of rich industrialists, even Presidential mistresses) is often rooted in history and tradition.
Despit the length of this book it remains readable throughout. The author moves easily from detail to broad themes and back, and his dry humour lightens many passages. Readers of all nationalities will find this account of American history through British eyes adds to their understanding of modern America and its place in the world.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Penguin have published a number of very detailed heavy history books covering various parts of the globe and this is an excellent example on that genre. Written by Hugh Brogan, a university teacher, this is not a book to be undertaken lightly. If you are wanting an easy introduction to everything American, forget it (Bill Bryson may be a better point of reference). However, as a detailed chronology of the Why as opposed to the What then I would definitely recommend it. It provides an insight into a lot of the though process of America as a whole, and perhaps highlights how their politics is so different to British politics, in a way I've not read elsewhere. Reading a lot of this so soon after the last US Presidential election it provided some useful context to the main political parties and how their differences have changed over time.

The book itself comprises 5 books separating the history of the US into settlement, revolution, equality, gold and superpower. I read the first 3 books and then took a break (several months in fact) before finishing the rest of it. Generally I felt the earlier chapters were more detailed in chronology and later on there is more comment on why things happened and the choices available. Much of the second half follows the decisions of each President and associated election. I did feel the last chapter (post-Cold War) was a little rushed and it was quite apparent it was written as a revised edition as opposed to being in the original. That said, I found the book very educational and enjoyable to read, albeit not always that easy (the tiny font didn't help either!
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Format: Paperback
I did not read History at University and had embarassingly little knowledge of American history. I found this work useful and engaging, and a good background to have when reading American literature and appreciating other forms of American culture.

The writing is clear. Events are well summarised, characters presented with subtlety and the significance of social change is discussed in detail. The author raises pertinant questions but does not let the commentary reach an exhausting level of detail. I feel not only that I have learnt many facts but also gained some actual insight into American History.

The work is slightly on the `academic' side but I was very frustrated that the publishers did not think it useful to include any maps nor even a glossary of terms or a good annotated bibliography. Shame on them.

Another reservation is the handling of the war periods: I would have liked a clearer depiction of the timelines and the decisive moments of the various conflicts.

To summarise: this was a good read and a useful basis on which to build. There are not that many histories of the USA .... this book only goes as far as R. Regan and I now need to find a history of 'contemporary' USA to complete the picture.
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Format: Paperback
If, like me, you've never read any US histoy and your entire knowledge of it comes from film and television then this is the perfect book for you. Starting with the earliest settlers it goes through all the famous events such as the American Revolution, the Civil War, Reconstruction, Prohibition, the New Deal, the Civil Rights Movement and Watergate but also deals with less familiar ones and shows how the nation has grown and developed over the centuries. The narrative flow is brilliant and doesn't get bogged down by numerous references to individuals with similar names - for instance it's always clear which member of the Adams family (the political dynasty, not the television series!) is being referred to. This is essential reading for all students of American history but can be enjoyed just as much by casual readers.
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