The Reckless Decade: America in the 1890s

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University of Chicago Press, 2002 M03 15 - 375 pages
"Large-scale economic change, job uncertainty, the politics of extremism and paranoia, arguments over America's international role, racial conflicts. Sound familiar?"(Fritz Lanham, Houston Chronicle) Just as we do today, Americans of the 1890s faced changes in economics, politics, society, and technology that led to wrenching and sometimes violent tensions between rich and poor, capital and labor, white and black, East and West. In The Reckless Decade, H. W. Brands demonstrates that we can learn a lot about the contradictions that lie at the heart of America today by looking at them through the lens of the 1890s.

The 1890s saw the closing of the American frontier and a shift toward imperialist ambitions. Populists and muckrakers grappled with robber barons and gold-bugs. Americans addressed the unfinished business of Reconstruction by separating blacks and whites. Booker T. Washington, W. E. B. Du Bois, and other black leaders clashed over the proper response to continuing racial inequality. Those on top of the economic heap—Rockefeller, Carnegie, and Morgan—created vast empires of wealth, while those at the bottom worked for dimes a day. Brands brings all this to life in a vivid narrative filled with larger-than-life characters facing momentous challenges as they worked toward an uncertain future.

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LibraryThing Review

User Review  - Big_Bang_Gorilla - LibraryThing

Being a history of America during the 1890's. Brands tells his story pretty conventionally; this is a political history with very few excursions into the arts or society, and, for most readers, this should be seen as a fault. Read full review

THE RECKLESS DECADE: America in the 1890s

User Review  - Kirkus

A historian peels the romantic veneer off the good old days of late-19th-century America. Although Brands (Texas A&M Univ.; The Wages of Globalism, 1994, etc.) notes that issues and events of the ... Read full review

Selected pages

Contents

1 The Lost Frontier
7
2 In Morgan We Trust
42
3 How the Other Half Lived
90
4 Blood on the Water
128
5 The Matter with Kansas
177
6 Plessy v Crow
215
7 Cross of Gold Tongue of Silver
254
8 Democratic Imperialism
287
Epilogue
336
Bibliography
352
Index
361
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About the author (2002)

H. W. Brands holds the Melbern G. Glasscock Chair in American History at Texas A&M University. He is the author, most recently, of The First American: The Life and Times of Benjamin Franklin and The Strange Death of American Liberalism.

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