American Dreams by H. W. Brands
The United States Since 1945

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Synopsis

From bestselling historian H. W. Brands, an incisive chronicle of the events and trends that guided-and sometimes misguided-our nation from the A-bomb to the iPhone.

For a brief, bright moment in 1945, America stood at its apex, looking back on victory not only against the Axis powers but against the Great Depression, and looking ahead to seemingly limitless power and promise. What we've done with that power and promise over the past six decades is a vitally important and fascinating topic that has rarely been tackled in one volume, and never by a historian of H. W. Brands's stature.

As American Dreams opens, Brands shows us a country dramatically different from our own-more unequal in social terms but more equal economically, more religious and rural but also more liberal and more wholeheartedly engaged with the rest of the world. As he traces the changes we have gone through as a nation, he reveals the great themes and dreams that have driven America-the rising focus on individual rights and pleasures, the growing distance between our global goals and those of the rest of the world, and the inexorable dissolution of a shared sense of what it means to be American. In Brands's adroit hands, these trends unfold through a character-driven narrative that sheds brilliant light on the obvious highs and lows-from Watergate to the Berlin Wall, from Apollo 11 to 9/11, from My Lai to shock and awe. But he also chronicles the surprising impact of less celebrated events and trends. Through his eyes, we realize the sweeping significance of the immigration reforms of the 1960s, which gradually transformed American society. We come to grasp the vast impact of abandoning the gold standard in 1971, which enabled both globalization and the current financial crisis. We ponder the unnerving results of CNN's debut in 1979, which sped up the news cycle and permanently changed our foreign policy by putting its effects live on our TV screens.

Blending political and cultural history with his keen sense of the spirit of the times, Brands captures the national experience through the last six decades and reveals the still-unfolding legacy of dreams born out of a global cataclysm.

 

About H. W. Brands

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H.W. Brandstaught at Texas A&M University for sixteen years before joining the faculty at the University of Texas at Austin, where he is the Dickson Allen Anderson Centennial Professor of History. His books include Traitor to His Class, Andrew Jackson, The Age of Gold, The First American, and TR. Traitor to His Classand The First Americanwere finalists for the Pulitzer Prize.
 
Published May 31, 2011 by Penguin Books. 432 pages
Genres: History. Non-fiction

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The onset of the Cold War effectively silenced conservatism, writes Brands, after politicians who would have berated the Truman Administration for engaging in an undeclared war anywhere else refrained from criticism because of their “proprietary attitude toward Asia,” which assumed that Korea, an...

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Along with his unusual attainments, Franklin also “had almost no personal enemies and comparatively few political enemies for a man of public affairs,” and throughout his biography Brands carefully charts just how Franklin managed, through a mix of charm and practicality, to make peace in difficu...

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American Dreams: The United States Since 1945, 2010, etc.) elucidates the tension between the U.S. brand of democracy and its version of capitalism through anecdotes starring politicians, diplomats, judges, union leaders and corporate tycoons, with an emphasis on the tycoons.

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Amid all this, Brands charts the rise of the new trivialism and consumer-driven infantilism that saw, as one journalist noted, “shoppers carry Mickey Mouse satchels and briefcases bursting with Mickey Mouse soap, candy, playing cards, bridge favors, hairbrushes, chinaware, alarm clocks and hot-wa...

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Publishers Weekly

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In this timely study, University of Texas historian Brands (Traitor to His Class) describes the rise of the great corporate capitalists after the Civil War.

Aug 16 2010 | Read Full Review of American Dreams: The United S...

Publishers Weekly

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From Franklin's progress as a self-declared ""Briton""Dserving as London agent for Pennsylvania, Massachusetts and other coloniesDto his evolution as an American (wartime minister to France, senior peace negotiator with Britain and, finally, senior participant at the Constitutional Convention), B...

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Though this crisp, informal narrative overview of the last half-century of American history is long on story and short on analysis, it does its job well.

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BookPage

and President Johnson, President Reagan’s inaugural address, which sought to restore the nation’s self-confidence, Betty Friedan’s writing on “the feminine mystique,” and President Eisenhower’s farewell address warning of the dangers of a military-industrial complex.

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Bookmarks Magazine

We ponder the unnerving results of CNN's debut in 1979, which sped up the news cycle and permanently changed our foreign policy by putting its effects live on our TV screens.

Blending political and cultural history with his keen sense of the spirit of the times, Brands captures the nation...

Jul 04 2010 | Read Full Review of American Dreams: The United S...

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