This text traces the history, over the past 130 years (from 1876 to the present day), of a country whose ascendancy has left an indelible mark on the 20th century. The author thus completes a task initiated with The Formation of the United States, a previous book dealing with the period stretching from the countrys colonial origins and the American Revolution up to the Civil War. This new volume focuses on issues such as the social question at the end of the 19th century and the culture wars at the end of the 20th, the liberal-progressive and conservative reform movements, the imperialist optimism of 1898 and the fear of decline a century later, the imperial presidency and the challenges to democracy, the great wars and the great depressions, affluence and poverty. The narration expertly blends political, economic, social, and cultural history, and populates the stage with a wide array of actors, often clashing with each other: elites and mass movements, parties and lobbies, patriots and rebels, immigrants and Afro-Americans, women and men. The resulting portrait is not of the one-dimensional America evoked by myths and propaganda, but rather of a pluralist country, comprising many segments featuring complexity and contradictions.
Arnaldo Testi teaches History of the United States at the University of Pisa.