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Customer Review

on 22 May 2009
Having read the reviews before purchasing, I was aware that this book seems to divide opinion into two camps. On the one hand, the detailed and scholarly information contained is undoubtedly of a high standard; however for some readers the academic tone of the work has come at some cost in terms of readability.

I can appreciate the latter concern -- I am not a great fan of overly analytical history and prefer a lucid narrative to scholarly debates -- but I was pleased to find that the book was far easier to become engrossed with than I had anticipated from the reviews. Granted, at times there are passing references to events which the lay reader may possess no knowledge of; however this is rarely done where the event forms a key explanatory factor in the narrative. Writing a complete history of the United States is an unenviable task and authors will either fall foul of assuming a high level of background knowledge in their reader or of reducing history to an overly simplistic caricature. In the case of Hugh Brogan's work I feel the correct balance was struck and, indeed, I found the use of such references a great impetus to engage in further reading.

Overall then, the book is a thoroughly detailed and well researched overview of American history from the colonial period to the late 20th century. Though the scholarly style may put off some readers, it is important not to exaggerate this point. A consistent narrative is maintained throughout the book and it never descends into the realms of academic posturing. It is not a colourful introduction to American history, but nor is it an impenetrable work intended solely for the eyes of postgraduates and professors. In my opinion most readers with a decent grounding in the subject will find it a rewarding experience (I am far from a history professor and I certainly did).
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