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America, Empire of Liberty: A New History - David Reynolds

America, Empire of Liberty: A New History

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David Reynolds

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Pages: 671 (Hardcover)

ISBN: 1846140560

Pub: Allen Lane

Pub date: 2009-01-19

Amazon.co.uk Sales Rank: 86020

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Reader Reviews:


5/5 stars

An excellent history of America, one of the best... (0/0 people found this helpful)

This is one of the best single-volume histories of America I've ever read. Whilst it does have to sometimes skim over certain topics or eras in the interests of brevity, it doesn't leave out anything important, and the relative shortness of the text gives the benefit of a broad overview, particularly in terms of the persistent characteristic of having an enemy to fight and draw the country together - first it was the British, then the Native Americans, then the Spanish in Mexico, Nazi Germany, the Cold War and now Islamic fundamentalists.

Reynolds draws on three major themes that have defined America over the years - empire, liberty and faith - and shows how these have intertwined over the years to make America the country it is. These themes highlight more than any other the contradictions at the heart of America - "the empire forged by anti-imperialists, the land of liberty than rested on slavery, the secular state energized by godly ambition".

5/5 stars

Excellent History (0/0 people found this helpful)

Thus far this book seems to has been well received and justifiably so. I'll just highlight a couple of distinguishing features which make this a truly excellent book.

Firstly it's scale and pace. The narrative of the American story which David Reynolds unfolds manages to confidently weave the big political and economic events together with the human stories of presidents, slaves, industrialists, activists and labourers. With centuries to survey, not everything is explored with the same depth, but the tapestry which Reynolds weaves genuinely works - he draws together the connections between peoples, events and places and demonstrates their historical consequences.

Secondly it's not over-moralised. Reynolds fully recognises the tensions and complexities of the American story and it's great paradoxes between liberty, slavery and empire. Indeed the whole book is based around these (and other) tensions. The story unfolds as a tale of continuing triumphs and defeats and not as a great moral judgement of American virtue or vice. It is restrained, balanced but above all engaging, fresh, dynamic, readable and thoroughly recommended by this reviewer!

4/5 stars

A new angle on an old history (4/4 people found this helpful)

David Reynolds History of America is a timely book that takes us from the Founding Fathers right up too Barrack Obama's victory. The book explores this history through the contradictions and complexities of American ideas of Liberty - Empire and Faith , thus creating a fresh perspective to a subject that has been well covered. Reynolds, a professor of American history for over thirty years, displays a masterful control over the wealth of materials and information that his exhaustive research has produced - conveying the facts with such erudtion and style, I found the book hard to put down.
Viewing the history through the prism of Empire - Liberty and Faith, we see a country that has stuggled with these contradictions and wrestled with it's conscience - mainly in regard to slavery, human rights issues and foreign policy - though it has in the main endeavoured to the right thing, with varying degrees of success. In the end we are left with a picture of an Empire staring over the precipice - two costly wars and an economy reeling from the Sub-Prime mortgage disaster has left America in a very vulnerable position, and left a population wary of the future. Reynold's New History is compelling told with a story tellers skill and an historians eye for detail. Superb.History of the American PeopleMade in AmericaThe Right Nation: Why America is DifferentThe First Salute: View of the American RevolutionThe World We're inThe Eagle's Shadow: Why America Fascinates and Infuriates the WorldDivine Magnetic Lands: A Journey in America

5/5 stars

AN IMPRESSIVE READ (7/7 people found this helpful)

I had hear excerpts from David Reynold's "Empire of Liberty" read on BBC Radio 4 - who serialised this book. I had encountered David Reynolds on BBC TV - for example his excellent series on world summit meetings.
I have always been interested in the history of the USA too but mainly through watching TV documentaries. In about 600 pages - David takes you through the last 400 or so years of american history at quite a pace. Key characters are fleshed out well. He has an eye for a telling quotation from those there at the time. Though quite a long book the pace is quick - the second world war only lasted less that 4 years for the USA so in a few pages we are into the cold war. Some may not like the considerable space devoted to social history as against political or economic history - but that comes down to personal interests of the reader. But no this is the Bizz!

5/5 stars

America Liberty (2/9 people found this helpful)

After reading this book I found a new respect for America. I learnt facts about America that I didnt know. The history of America is so interesting that I couldnt put the book down.

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