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on 13 March 2016
I loved this. Shocking in parts.
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on 20 May 2009
I had hear excerpts from David Reynold's "Empire of Liberty" read on BBC Radio 4 - who serialised this book. I had encountered David Reynolds on BBC TV - for example his excellent series on world summit meetings.
I have always been interested in the history of the USA too but mainly through watching TV documentaries. In about 600 pages - David takes you through the last 400 or so years of american history at quite a pace. Key characters are fleshed out well. He has an eye for a telling quotation from those there at the time. Though quite a long book the pace is quick - the second world war only lasted less that 4 years for the USA so in a few pages we are into the cold war. Some may not like the considerable space devoted to social history as against political or economic history - but that comes down to personal interests of the reader. But no this is the Bizz!
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on 19 December 2009
Thus far this book seems to has been well received and justifiably so. I'll just highlight a couple of distinguishing features which make this a truly excellent book.

Firstly it's scale and pace. The narrative of the American story which David Reynolds unfolds manages to confidently weave the big political and economic events together with the human stories of presidents, slaves, industrialists, activists and labourers. With centuries to survey, not everything is explored with the same depth, but the tapestry which Reynolds weaves genuinely works - he draws together the connections between peoples, events and places and demonstrates their historical consequences.

Secondly it's not over-moralised. Reynolds fully recognises the tensions and complexities of the American story and it's great paradoxes between liberty, slavery and empire. Indeed the whole book is based around these (and other) tensions. The story unfolds as a tale of continuing triumphs and defeats and not as a great moral judgement of American virtue or vice. It is restrained, balanced but above all engaging, fresh, dynamic, readable and thoroughly recommended by this reviewer!
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on 18 October 2017
Extremely informative
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TOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICEon 11 January 2010
This is one of the best single-volume histories of America I've ever read. Whilst it does have to sometimes skim over certain topics or eras in the interests of brevity, it doesn't leave out anything important, and the relative shortness of the text gives the benefit of a broad overview, particularly in terms of the persistent characteristic of having an enemy to fight and draw the country together - first it was the British, then the Native Americans, then the Spanish in Mexico, Nazi Germany, the Cold War and now Islamic fundamentalists.

Reynolds draws on three major themes that have defined America over the years - empire, liberty and faith - and shows how these have intertwined over the years to make America the country it is. These themes highlight more than any other the contradictions at the heart of America - "the empire forged by anti-imperialists, the land of liberty than rested on slavery, the secular state energized by godly ambition".
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on 19 January 2010
Very good, great for car journeys or as I use it for ironing!Learning about something I thought I knew a bit about turns out I know next to nothing!
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on 16 June 2012
This is a great, well-balanced single-volume history of the US, explaining the factors behind the growth of this nation from day 1.

Rather than simply 'tell the story', (to his credit) Reynolds spices things up by including quotations from memoirs, autobiographies etc. of the figures discussed to give a more complete image of the political climate at any given time. The pace at which events are covered prevents you from getting bogged down in issues that don't interest you, but provide enough information for you to appreciate the relevance of these issues, and are frequently inspirations for further reading.

He also has a unique way of introducing important people or legal cases. Instead of giving a blow by blow account of Abraham Lincoln's life, for example, Reynolds mentions a few of the most well-known elements of his life before actually introducing him, inviting the reader to take an educated guess as to who is being described. Although not totally relevant to the success of the whole book, this was an element of the written style I loved tremendously.

I would thoroughly recommend this book to anyone interested in learning more about America, and I would urge anyone studying the Civil Rights in the USA unit for A level history to read this before sitting the exam: it's a great way of uncovering themes that the textbooks don't mention that are relevant to the subject area (eg. expansion of Federal Government power over time).

10/10. So good, I could read it twice.
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on 1 July 2010
I was never interested in American history (felt how much of there is to read about?) but somehow was prompted to read more about the build-up/background of American thought and actions (expecially post the Gulf of Mexico oil spill).

Reading the book, it is quite evident that the author has a deep understanding of American past.

The material presented is also constructed in a very interesting way, showcasing historical events against interesting themes.

Overall an excellent purchase.

Highly recommended. Helped me to some extent in understanding the 'why' aspect of American behavior in the 20th and 21st century.
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on 22 March 2016
Informative, witty and very enjoyable to read. Made me want to start reading history again.
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on 4 May 2010
I found this one of the most enthralling history books I've ever read. In part down to the material, but very much also down to the author. It covers the whole of modern American history, and would no doubt have gone back further were it not that the American Indians left little or no recorded history and as such that part of the book is very much guess work. The rest is a fascinating overview of the United States right up to Obama. The only reservation for me was that it was too short, I could have read on forever, but it whet my apetite to read more about the Civil War, the Civil rights movement, Reagan (and I would never have believed I woulkd want to hear any more about him!), Nixon, Prohibition, and for that the author has my huge thanks, and I'll be checking out further books by him.
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