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The Penguin History of the United States of America Kindle Edition
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Top Customer Reviews
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.
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!Read more ›
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.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
This book simply did not deliver. If the title of a non-fiction book is simply the the name of a broad subject, such as "the history of the USA", then it should be an... Read morePublished 10 months ago by JR
I found it a bit tiresome to read, difficult to keep complete overview and overall contextPublished 11 months ago by michael reijn
As others have pointed out, Hugh Brogan is a historian who is not shy of expressing his personal opinions; his history of the USA is written from a markedly liberal (in the... Read morePublished 13 months ago by J C E Hitchcock