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Grand Expectations: The United States, 1945-1974 (Oxford History of the… (1996 original; edició 1997)

de James T. Patterson (Autor)

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559531,399 (4.05)6
Beginning in 1945, America rocketed through a quarter-century of extraordinary economic growth, experiencing an amazing boom that soared to unimaginable heights in the 1960s. At one point, in the late 1940s, American workers produced 57 percent of the planet's steel, 62 percent of the oil, 80percent of the automobiles. The U.S. then had three-fourths of the world's gold supplies. English Prime Minister Edward Heath later said that the United States in the post-War era enjoyed "the greatest prosperity the world has ever known." It was a boom that produced a national euphoria, a buoyanttime of grand expectations and an unprecedented faith in our government, in our leaders, and in the American dream--an optimistic spirit which would be shaken by events in the '60s and '70s, and particularly by the Vietnam War. Now, in Grand Expectations, James T. Patterson has written a highly readable and balanced work that weaves the major political, cultural, and economic events of the period into a superb portrait of America from 1945 through Watergate. Here is an era teeming with memorable events--from thebloody campaigns in Korea and the bitterness surrounding McCarthyism to the assassinations of the Kennedys and Martin Luther King, to the Vietnam War, Watergate, and Nixon's resignation. Patterson excels at portraying the amazing growth after World War II--the great building boom epitomized byLevittown (the largest such development in history) and the baby boom (which exploded literally nine months after V-J Day)--as well as the resultant buoyancy of spirit reflected in everything from streamlined toasters, to big, flashy cars, to the soaring, butterfly roof of TWA's airline terminal inNew York. And he shows how this upbeat, can-do mood spurred grander and grander expectations as the era progressed. Of course, not all Americans shared in this economic growth, and an important thread running through the book is an informed and gripping depiction of the civil rights movement--from the electrifying Brown v. Board of Education decision, to the violent confrontations in Little Rock, Birmingham,and Selma, to the landmark civil rights acts of 1964 and 1965. Patterson also shows how the Vietnam War--which provoked LBJ's growing credibility gap, vast defense spending that dangerously unsettled the economy, and increasingly angry protests--and a growing rights revolution (including demands bywomen, Hispanics, the poor, Native Americans, and gays) triggered a backlash that widened hidden rifts in our society, rifts that divided along racial, class, and generational lines. And by Nixon's resignation, we find a national mood in stark contrast to the grand expectations of ten years earlier,one in which faith in our leaders and in the attainability of the American dream was becoming shaken. Grand Expectations is the newest volume in the prestigious Oxford History of the United States. The earlier releases were highly acclaimed, and one, Battle Cry of Freedom, was both a New York Times bestseller and a winner of the Pulitzer Prize. Patterson's volume takes its rightful place besidethese distinguished works. It is a brilliant summation of the years that created the America that we know today, a time of setbacks amid unmatched and lasting achievements.… (més)
Membre:euthyphro1
Títol:Grand Expectations: The United States, 1945-1974 (Oxford History of the United States |v X)
Autors:James T. Patterson (Autor)
Informació:Oxford University Press (1997), Edition: Reprint, 880 pages
Col·leccions:Quizbowl Studying List
Valoració:
Etiquetes:American History

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Grand Expectations: The United States, 1945-1974 de James T. Patterson (1996)

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Solid overview of the Post-War era in the United States covering foreign and domestic affairs. ( )
  Neal_Anderson | Jun 13, 2020 |
James Patterson's history of the U.S. in the post war era is an excellent omnibus overview of the period, covering a wide range of trends and themes, and bringing personalities vividly to life. Despite its considerable length, it is eminently readable, with an extensive index and a helpful bibliographic essay at the end. All this makes it a worthy entry in the magisterial Oxford history of the U.S., if perhaps bit less gripping than a few other entries in the series -- McPherson's "Battle Cry of Freedom", and Kennedy's "Freedom from Fear". Two possible explanations for this may be worth noting. First, in a narrative sense, the period itself did not have a single focus like the Civil War or the Depression, but rather a multiplicity of themes. Patterson's trope of "grand expectations" is a good marker for American attitudes at mid-century, but there were as he demonstrates several sets of grand expectations at work. Secondly, this is recent history -- within the memory of many readers (including this one), and lacking perhaps the advantages of distance.

"Grand Expectations" explores events from 1945 -- when the U.S. was unquestionably 'top country' -- to Watergate, when the country seemed to many to be coming undone. Patterson examines the period from several perspectives. Certainly, he explores domestic and international political patterns, but also goes into cultural and economic trends. This makes it a richer and more nuanced work than many standard histories, which are too often political narratives of who did what to whom. Not that Patternson is short on who and whom. His political portraits are vivid and often show how leaders' personalities interacted with events to produce specific outcomes. Patterson's discussion of Lyndon Johnson's policies brings out what some might consider the tragedy of Ol' Lyndon,, while his discussion of the Nixon/Eisenhower relationship almost made me sympathize with Tricky Dick. He gives the struggle for civil rights its rightful place, putting it at the center of the changes that overtook America in the 1960's, as the key instance of the "rights revolution" that affected so many areas of American life.

In a work with so wide a scope, some readers may well feel that some themes, or events, or personalities have been short-changed. And in a work which clearly strives for balance. some may feel that the approach on certain still-contentious issues is too tepid. Overall, however, this book provides a compelling narrative of a critical period. And those of us who lived through the period may find it particularly interesting. Several times in reading this book, I had "ah-ha!" moments -- so that's what was really going on. ( )
1 vota annbury | Apr 14, 2013 |
While faulting Paterson for missing an opportunity to show the intersections of public and private life, to merge popular culture with politics and to place women's lives on an equal footing with men's, Elaine Taylor May still calls it a balanced and moderate account of the first three decades of the post war world. Charles Alexander also sees the account as balanced and "judicious." By starting with a chapter on "Veterans, Ethnics, Blacks and Women," Patterson sets the tone for the rest of the book. which is the account of "grand expectations" excited by the triumph in WWII and buoyed by the remarkable post-war economic boom. It was, as May points out, often the disparity between these grand expectations and the ability of the government to meet these expectations that lead to many of the rights revolution that grew in the land. Rhetoric about American liberty, it would seem, often outstripped the actual commitment of America's leaders to deliver social equality to all regardless of race, ethnicity, class or gender.

In his review for Reviews in American History, Walter Hixson points out some of the key issues which Patterson addresses in putting forward his "grand expectations" thesis. On the Cold War, Patterson finds that it was close to inevitable. Truman may have added to the apocalyptic character of the conflict, but Stalin bears much of the blame. The Korean War, despite many errors along the way was essentially a necessary war to stop North Korean aggression. In line with recent scholarship that revives Ike's powers as a statesman, his assessment of Eisenhower is quite favorable. The Red Scare popularly known as McCarthyism is set in a larger cultural context, with Ike getting a slight chiding for not taking Tail Gunner Joe on earlier in his presidency. He is artfully able to catch the mood of the times for the common folk in pointing to the importance of prosperity, against the critiques of America's self-appointed elites. For people getting their first home, the alienation of the intelligentsia meant little. Yet, he is writing top-down history and there is little in this very think volume of grass roots history. He acknowledges the contribution of grass roots activism to the Civil Rights cause but focus on the national leadership. Ike resisted Brown (1954) believing that his appointment of Earl Warren was the single biggest mistake of his administration. The Kennedy administration was haltingly converted to limited support of civil rights. It was LBJ who emerges as the real champion of social legislation, but he oversold it and fell victim to his own pride. The escalation he pursued in Vietnam was driven by his absolute obsession not to be tagged as the guy who "lost" Vietnam. It is, in Patterson's view, wholly unproductive to engage in the Monday morning quarterback exercise. This was the wrong war, at the wrong place, at the wrong time and with the wrong enemy -- as LBJ was to learn. Patterson's critique of Nixon in Vietnam is also insightful. Had Nixon been willing to compromise in 69 he might have gotten instead what he ended up getting in 73. In the end, the economy's slump in the 70s, in combination with the double psychic shocks of Vietnam and Watergate, destroyed the confidence many Americans had in their government and put an end to the "grand expectations" of an era.

Alan Brinkley, in reviewing another of Pattern's books (America's Struggle Against Poverty, 1900-1980) for Reviews in American History, comments on how the welfare state is so late and so light a tax burden in comparison to other western countries but that it still evokes a great deal of anger. In a scant 200 pages, Patterson explains the history of attitudes toward the poor starting with Progressivism, working through the New Deal and bringing the discussion through the War on Poverty and into the present world of "welfare reform." Patterson demonstrates that conservative inhibitions have rendered the American welfare state too small to be effective. In a country where middle class critics of the undeserving poor still dismiss the poor as "loafers" and "bums," conservative attitudes toward the poor have something of a 19th century ring to them. Patterson presents a "vision of a rich and powerful nation creating a modern welfare state almost in spite of itself, of a society stumbling into a commitment it neither understood nor desired."
  mdobe | Jul 23, 2011 |
2974 Grand Expectations: The United States 1945-1974, by James T. Patterson (read 26 Apr 1997)`I read this because it is a co-winner of the Bancroft History prize for 1997. It covers a period I know well, and is based on secondary sources, but it does a good job and its views are neither too liberal nor too conservative. It was a tumultuous 30 years and this book tells the story thereof well. ( )
  Schmerguls | Jan 15, 2008 |
It's a grand book. I love James T. Patterson and his research is thorough. It's a long book but well worth it. ( )
  Angelic55blonde | Jun 29, 2007 |
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Beginning in 1945, America rocketed through a quarter-century of extraordinary economic growth, experiencing an amazing boom that soared to unimaginable heights in the 1960s. At one point, in the late 1940s, American workers produced 57 percent of the planet's steel, 62 percent of the oil, 80percent of the automobiles. The U.S. then had three-fourths of the world's gold supplies. English Prime Minister Edward Heath later said that the United States in the post-War era enjoyed "the greatest prosperity the world has ever known." It was a boom that produced a national euphoria, a buoyanttime of grand expectations and an unprecedented faith in our government, in our leaders, and in the American dream--an optimistic spirit which would be shaken by events in the '60s and '70s, and particularly by the Vietnam War. Now, in Grand Expectations, James T. Patterson has written a highly readable and balanced work that weaves the major political, cultural, and economic events of the period into a superb portrait of America from 1945 through Watergate. Here is an era teeming with memorable events--from thebloody campaigns in Korea and the bitterness surrounding McCarthyism to the assassinations of the Kennedys and Martin Luther King, to the Vietnam War, Watergate, and Nixon's resignation. Patterson excels at portraying the amazing growth after World War II--the great building boom epitomized byLevittown (the largest such development in history) and the baby boom (which exploded literally nine months after V-J Day)--as well as the resultant buoyancy of spirit reflected in everything from streamlined toasters, to big, flashy cars, to the soaring, butterfly roof of TWA's airline terminal inNew York. And he shows how this upbeat, can-do mood spurred grander and grander expectations as the era progressed. Of course, not all Americans shared in this economic growth, and an important thread running through the book is an informed and gripping depiction of the civil rights movement--from the electrifying Brown v. Board of Education decision, to the violent confrontations in Little Rock, Birmingham,and Selma, to the landmark civil rights acts of 1964 and 1965. Patterson also shows how the Vietnam War--which provoked LBJ's growing credibility gap, vast defense spending that dangerously unsettled the economy, and increasingly angry protests--and a growing rights revolution (including demands bywomen, Hispanics, the poor, Native Americans, and gays) triggered a backlash that widened hidden rifts in our society, rifts that divided along racial, class, and generational lines. And by Nixon's resignation, we find a national mood in stark contrast to the grand expectations of ten years earlier,one in which faith in our leaders and in the attainability of the American dream was becoming shaken. Grand Expectations is the newest volume in the prestigious Oxford History of the United States. The earlier releases were highly acclaimed, and one, Battle Cry of Freedom, was both a New York Times bestseller and a winner of the Pulitzer Prize. Patterson's volume takes its rightful place besidethese distinguished works. It is a brilliant summation of the years that created the America that we know today, a time of setbacks amid unmatched and lasting achievements.

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