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History > U.S. History > 20th Century
A compelling and entertaining account of the year that represents the apex of 1920s American culture. Shatters the stereotype of the Roaring Twenties as a time of frivolity and excess and reveals instead a society torn between holding on to its glorious past while trying to navigate a brave new world.
A Century of Progress
Chicago's 1933 world's fair set a new direction for international expositions. Earlier fairs had exhibited technological advances, but Chicago's fair organizers used the very idea of progress to buoy national optimism during the Depression's darkest years. Orchestrated by business leaders and engineers, almost all former military men, the fair reflected a business-military-engineering model that envisioned a promising future through science and technology's application to everyday life. But not everyone at Chicago's 1933 exposition had abandoned notions of progress that entailed social justice and equality, recognition of ethnicity and gender, and personal freedom and expression. The fair's motto, "Science Finds, Industry Applies, Man Conforms," was challenged by iconoclasts such as Sally Rand, whose provocative fan dance became a persistent symbol of the fair, as well as a handful of others, including African Americans, ethnic populations and foreign nationals, groups of working women, and even well-heeled socialites. Cheryl R. Ganz offers the stories of fair planners and participants who showcased education, industry, and entertainment to sell optimism during the depths of the Great Depression. This engaging history also features eighty-six photographs--nearly half of which are full color--of key locations, exhibits, and people, as well as authentic ticket stubs, postcards, pamphlets, posters, and other items.
A New Global History from Civil Rights to Economic Inequality
The 1970s looks at an iconic decade when the cultural left and economic right came to the fore in American society and the world at large. While many have seen the 1970s as simply a period of failures epitomized by Watergate, inflation, the oil crisis, global unrest, and disillusionment with military efforts in Vietnam, Thomas Borstelmann creates a new framework for understanding the period and its legacy. He demonstrates how the 1970s increased social inclusiveness and, at the same time, encouraged commitments to the free market and wariness of government. As a result, American culture and much of the rest of the world became more--and less--equal.
Borstelmann explores how the 1970s forged the contours of contemporary America. Military, political, and economic crises undercut citizens' confidence in government. Free market enthusiasm led to lower taxes, a volunteer army, individual 401(k) retirement plans, free agency in sports, deregulated airlines, and expansions in gambling and pornography. At the same time, the movement for civil rights grew, promoting changes for women, gays, immigrants, and the disabled. And developments were not limited to the United States. Many countries gave up colonial and racial hierarchies to develop a new formal commitment to human rights, while economic deregulation spread to other parts of the world, from Chile and the United Kingdom to China.
Placing a tempestuous political culture within a global perspective, The 1970s shows that the decade wrought irrevocable transformations upon American society and the broader world that continue to resonate today.
Some images inside the book are unavailable due to digital copyright restrictions.
Sexuality and the State in Rural America
4-H, the iconic rural youth program run by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, has enrolled more than 70 million Americans over the last century. As the first comprehensive history of the organization, The 4-H Harvest tracks 4-H from its origins in turn-of-the-century agricultural modernization efforts, through its role in the administration of federal programs during the New Deal and World War II, to its status as an instrument of international development in Cold War battlegrounds like Vietnam and Latin America.
In domestic and global settings, 4-H's advocates dreamed of transforming rural economies, communities, and families. Organizers believed the clubs would bypass backward patriarchs reluctant to embrace modern farming techniques. In their place, 4-H would cultivate efficient, capital-intensive farms and convince rural people to trust federal expertise. The modern 4-H farm also featured gender-appropriate divisions of labor and produced healthy, robust children. To retain the economic potential of the "best" youth, clubs insinuated state agents at the heart of rural family life. By midcentury, the vision of healthy 4-H'ers on family farms advertised the attractiveness of the emerging agribusiness economy.
With rigorous archival research, Gabriel N. Rosenberg provocatively argues that public acceptance of the political economy of agribusiness hinged on federal efforts to establish a modern rural society through effective farming technology and techniques as well as through carefully managed gender roles, procreation, and sexuality. The 4-H Harvest shows how 4-H, like the countryside it often symbolizes, is the product of the modernist ambition to efficiently govern rural economies, landscapes, and populations.
Hippies and Beyond
The greatest wave of communal living in American history crested in the tumultuous 1960s era including the early 1970s. To the fascination and amusement of more decorous citizens, hundreds of thousands of mostly young dreamers set out to build a new culture apart from the established society. Widely believed by the larger public to be sinks of drug-ridden sexual immorality, the communes both intrigued and repelled the American people. The intentional communities of the 1960s era were far more diverse than the stereotype of the hippie commune would suggest. A great many of them were religious in basis, stressing spiritual seeking and disciplined lifestyles. Others were founded on secular visions of a better society. Hundreds of them became so stable that they survive today. This book surveys the broad sweep of this great social yearning from the first portents of a new type of communitarianism in the early 1960s through the waning of the movement in the mid-1970s. Based on more than five hundred interviews conducted for the 60s Communes Project, among other sources, it preserves a colorful and vigorous episode in American history. The book includes an extensive directory of active and non-active communes, complete with dates of origin and dissolution.
An Oral History of the Kent State Shootings
A deadly confrontation at Kent State University between Vietnam War protesters and members of the Ohio National Guard occurred in the afternoon on May 4, 1970. What remained, along with the tragic injuries and lives lost, was a remarkable array of conflicting interpretations and theories about what happened—and why.
Above the Shots sheds new light on this historic event through the recollections of more than 50 narrators, whose stories are unique and riveting: the former mayor of Kent; a witness to the riot in town a few nights earlier; a protester who helped burn the ROTC building; a Black United Students member who was warned to stay away from the protest; a Vietnam veteran who deplored the counterculture yet administered first aid to the wounded; a friend of one of the mortally wounded students, who died in his arms; a guardsman sympathetic to the students; a faculty member supportive of the Guard; an outraged student who went to the state capital to make a citizen’s arrest of Governor Rhodes; a pair of former KSU presidents who, years later, courted controversy by how they chose to memorialize the tragedy. From the precipitous cultural conflicts of the 1960s to the everraging battle over how to remember the Kent State incident, the authors examine how these accounts challenge and deepen our understanding of the shootings, the Vietnam Era, memory, and oral history. Spanning five decades, Above the Shots not only chronicles the immediate chain of events that led to the shootings but explores causes and consequences, prevailing conspiracies, and the search for catharsis. It is a narrative assemblage of voices that rise above the rhetoric—above the din—to show how a watershed moment in modern American history continues to speak to us.
Athan Theoharis, long a respected authority on surveillance and secrecy, established his reputation for meticulous scholarship with his work on the loyalty security program developed under Truman and McCarthy. In Abuse of Power, Theoharis continues his investigation of U.S. government surveillance and historicizes the 9/11 response.
Criticizing the U.S. government's secret activities and policies during periods of "unprecedented crisis," he recounts how presidents and FBI officials exploited concerns about foreign-based internal security threats.
Drawing on information sequestered until recently in FBI records, Theoharis shows how these secret activities in the World War II and Cold War eras expanded FBI surveillance powers and, in the process, eroded civil liberties without substantially advancing legitimate security interests.
Passionately argued, this timely book speaks to the costs and consequences of still-secret post-9/11 surveillance programs and counterintelligence failures. Ultimately, Abuse of Power makes the case that the abusive surveillance policies of the Cold War years were repeated in the government's responses to the September 11 attacks.
World War II, Mental Institutions, and Religious Objectors
In the mid- to late 1940s, a group of young men rattled the psychiatric establishment by beaming a public spotlight on the squalid conditions and brutality in our nation’s mental hospitals and training schools for people with psychiatric and intellectual disabilities. Bringing the abuses to the attention of newspapers and magazines across the country, they led a reform effort to change public attitudes and to improve the training and status of institutional staff. Prominent Americans, including Eleanor Roosevelt, ACLU founder Roger Baldwin, author Pearl S. Buck, actress Helen Hayes, and African-American activist Mary McLeod Bethune, supported the efforts of the young men. These young men were among the 12,000 World War II conscientious objectors who chose to perform civilian public service as an alternative to fighting in what is widely regarded as America’s "good war." Three thousand of these men volunteered to work at state institutions, where they found conditions appalling. Acting on conscience a second time, they challenged America’s treatment of its citizens with severe disabilities. Acts of Conscience brings to light the extraordinary efforts of these courageous men, drawing upon extensive archival research, interviews, and personal correspondence. The World War II conscientious objectors were not the first to expose public institutions, and they would not be the last. What distinguishes them from reformers of other eras is that their activities have faded from professional and popular memory. Steven J. Taylor’s moving account is an indispensable contribution to the historical record.