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The Sum of Our Dreams

A Concise History of America

Louis Masur

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Oxford University Press
18 December 2020
In The Sum of Our Dreams, Louis Masur offers a sweeping, yet compact, history of America from its beginnings to the current moment.

For general readers seeking an accessible, single-volume account that challenges, but does not overwhelm, and which distills and connects the major events and figures in the country's past in a single narrative, here is that book.

Evoking Barack Obama's belief that America remains the sum of its dreams, Masur locates the origin of those dreams - of freedom, equality and opportunity - and traces their progress chronologically, illuminating the nation's struggle over time to articulate and fulfill their promise.

Moving from the Colonial Era to the Revolutionary Period, the Early Republic and through the Civil War, Masur turns his attention to Reconstruction, the Gilded Age, the Progressive Age, World War One, the Great Depression, World War Two, the Cold War, Civil Rights, Vietnam and Watergate, laying out clearly and concisely what underlies the divisiveness that has characterised American civic life over the last 40 years, now more than ever.

Above all, he lets the story of America tell itself. Inspired by James Baldwin's observation that American history is longer, larger, more beautiful and more terrible than anything anyone has ever said about it, he expands our notion of that history, while identifying its individual threads.

The Sum of Our Dreams will be the new go-to single volume history for anyone seeking a foundational understanding of America's past and present.
Imprint:   Oxford University Press
Country of Publication:   United States
Dimensions:   Height: 242mm,  Width: 163mm,  Spine: 29mm
Weight:   688g
ISBN:   9780190692575
ISBN 10:   019069257X
Pages:   368
Publication Date:  
Audience:   General/trade ,  ELT Advanced
Format:   Hardback
Publisher's Status:   Active
Prologue: Land of Hope and Dreams Chapter 1: To Plant and to Conquer Virginia Massachusetts New York Native Americans Seven Years War Chapter 2: If Men Were Angels Revolution Constitution Political Parties War of 1812 Missouri Compromise Chapter 3: Empire of Liberty Nullification Revival Removal Mexican-American War Westward Course of Empire Chapter 4: A Higher Law Compromise Abolition Bleeding Kansas Dred Scott John Brown's Raid Chapter 5: Government of the People Secession Civil War Emancipation Home Fronts Reconstruction Chapter 6: Survival of the Fittest Corruption Competition Cooperation Frontiers Imperialism Chapter 7: Land of Promise Immigration Progressivism Segregation Socialism World War I Chapter 8: This New Battle Prohibition Depression Dust Bowl New Deal WW II Chapter 9: Blowin' in the Wind Consumerism Cold War Civil Rights Counterculture Vietnam Chapter 10: Government is the Problem Watergate The Great Inflation New Right New Democrat New World Order Chapter 11: The Change That We Seek War on Terror Globalization Vote for Change Social Media American Ideals Epilogue: Let America Be America Again

Louis P. Masur is Distinguished Professor of American Studies and History at Rutgers University. He is the author of many books, including The Civil War: A Concise History, The Soiling of Old Glory, and Lincoln's Last Speech. His essays and reviews have appeared in the New York Times, Washington Post, and Slate and he lectures around the country for One Day University.

Reviews for The Sum of Our Dreams: A Concise History of America

Louis Masur has written the concise, informed, and fluid history of the United States that the nation, indeed, the world, has needed for decades. Persuasive about the big things, Masur still invites argument, on the principle that history is argument without end. Learned yet unpretentious, his book is essential is every sense, an indispensable account of the fundamentals in our past. --Sean Wilentz With an ambitious project like a single volume history of the United States, sweep and scope is a given. But precision, wit and wisdom are what makes Louis Masur's The Sum of our Dreams really stand out. From the foundation of our founding to the tumult of our still-young century, Masur illuminates our common history and its recurring themes, providing an invaluable resource and a great read. --John Avlon, CNN Senior Analyst and author of Washington's Farewell A robust retelling of the American story, aptly suited to our time. Louis Masur neatly captures the contradictions at the heart of the American experience, and does so with the confidence and panache of the experienced teacher and insightful historian he is. --H. W. Brands, University of Texas, Austin In our bitterly divided 21st-century republic, it is easy to forget that the United States of America has always been a messy, wildly partisan, and deeply violent experiment. It never wasn't. That is the central message of Louis Masur's marvelous tour through American history. He reminds us of how hard our road has been, while proclaiming his frank admiration for our dreams and our democracy. As we plunge into the 2020 election season, I can't imagine a more relevant book. Bravo. --S. C. Gwynne, author of the New York Times Bestsellers Rebel Yell, and Empire of the Summer Moon A parade of colorful characters, memorable quotations, stunning moments, painful ironies, and fleeting victories fill these pages, as do the dreams-met and unmet-of the country's various striving populations. Engaging, accessible, and broadly informative, The Sum of Our Dreams seamlessly connects and contextualizes hundreds of key historical figures, events, and places, helping readers to make sense of this young country's complex past and challenging present. --Tiya Miles, author of The Dawn of Detroit: A Chronicle of Slavery and Freedom in the City of the Straits

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