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Books  >   History : Americas : United States : General : 

Reader's Guide to American History (Reader's Guide Series)

Parish, Peter J. (Editor)

Fitzroy Dearborn Publishers
Published:October 1, 1997
Format:Library Binding

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Description: From Booklist
American history is a lively topic, full of adventure, comedy, heroism, and tragedy. It is no small wonder that few other subjects can match it in the number of works published and the number of volumes that continue to appear. The interested reader has access to multivolume works on the life of Richard Nixon or single-volume surveys of the office and personalities that have defined the American presidency. For any reader new to the subject, a guidebook on where to begin has been long overdue.

Parish, the Mellon Senior Research Fellow in American History at Cambridge University, notes that a "simple listing of books" would not be useful to the explorer of American historical writings. Therefore, he has assembled an international cabal of American history scholars to prepare a series of more than 600 bibliographic essays for this volume. A survey of the list of contributors show several non-U.S. scholars, adding a unique perspective that might not have been available in an exclusively American-edited edition.

The guide concentrates on secondary literature on political, social, and economic history, selecting topics for inclusion based on importance, interest, and the quality and quantity of the available literature. Entries, which are arranged alphabetically, fall into three categories--events, individuals, and broader themes. Advertising; African American History; Carson, Rachel; Children and Youth; Labor Unions; Puritanism; Settlement House Movement; and Vietnam War are some examples. For the most part, popular culture is excluded. Each entry is signed by the contributor who wrote it and lists several important books on the topic in question, with an emphasis on works published before 1995. The entry on Nixon, for example, lists Nixon's two autobiographies and Stephen Ambrose's three-volume biography, among other works. For each title, the author, publisher, and date of first publication are provided. Although most of the titles are books, some articles are included as well.

Following the list of titles is an essay that appraises each title objectively, noting its contribution to the study of the topic: Nixon's books are "attempts at self-justification" but "provide remarkable insights," while the Ambrose trilogy is "well respected and exhaustively researched." Average length of entries is two double-column pages. Some broader topics are subdivided. There are seven separate entries for Native Americans, for example, including Native Americans: White Enounters with; Native Americans, Federal Policy towards; and Native Americans: Cultures, which is in turn subdivided by geographic region.

See also references connect entries that are related. At the front of the volume are both an alphabetical and a thematic list of entries. In addition to a general index, the volume concludes with a Booklist Index referring the reader to the entry in which each book is discussed. These aids to research make the work an easily accessible and highly useful resource for all kinds of readers of American history. It is recommended for public and academic libraries.

Product Description:
There are so many books on so many aspects of the history of the United States, offering such a wide variety of interpretations, that students, teachers, scholars, and librarians often need help and advice on how to find what they want. The Reader's Guide to American History is designed to meet that need by adopting a new and constructive approach to the appreciation of this rich historiography.

Each of the 600 entries on topics in political, social and economic history describes and evaluates some 6 to 12 books on the topic, providing guidance to the reader on everything from broad surveys and interpretive works to specialized monographs. The entries are devoted to events and individuals, as well as broader themes, and are written by a team of well over 200 contributors, all scholars of American history.

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