This is in effect a follow on from the Grand Expectations book, which is also very good. The books offers a host of facts that are interesting and of particular interest to students at degree level. It offers a comprehensive history of the United States and Patterson's books are a must read for any United States historian
Restless Giant is a good recent history of the USA written from a internal point of view by a liberal (that's not to say it's a bad thing just saying it isn't a book that focuses mostly on domestic matters). The read is actually enjoyable and flows well. The chapters aren't strictly chronological but vaguely follow this. Many history books focus on the presidents, this one though focuses on issues a lot; education, gay rights, the religious right, abortion etc.
A sample of the book. In the 70s a lot is about education and rights, desegregation and busing. It's actually quite interesting to read too. The late 70s focuses on the hostages and the rise of the right. The 80s has a good right up in this book domestically and the author makes a good attempt at Iran-Contra. The 90s focuses on the deadlock in government and the lack of things done in the 90s and the personality of Bill Clinton. The '92 election and Waco and O.J. are also covered.
The flaws in this book are small but are mostly on foreign policy where the author shows a level of naivity, relying on a few robust books but mostly on paper journalism in liberal newspapers. For example at the time the Oslo accords were hailed as a huge stepforward in middle east peace and commentators were waxing lyrical about Bill Clinton and the peace effort, true there's little talk about it today but for many years after there was and for most of this book the author writes about what people thought of at the time, but in this case he glossed over it and wrote about it from todays viewpoint almost as an afterthought. In this case 2 paragraphs! Apart from the stereotypical Serb bashing as root of all evil by American Liberals many of the other glitches are minor ones.
The later years have long sections on the Monica Lewinsky affair and the final part of the book on the 2000 election. Apart from the stereotypical Nader bashing that the author even joins in a little bit, this section was good and made a strong end to the book.