Conditions of Use
This is a fairly comprehensive textbook that outlines the history of the United States, beginning with an overview of the forces that led to colonialist expeditions from European nation-states, outlining some general aspects of pre-colonial North... read more
This is a fairly comprehensive textbook that outlines the history of the United States, beginning with an overview of the forces that led to colonialist expeditions from European nation-states, outlining some general aspects of pre-colonial North America, then moving into the process and initial impact of settler-colonialism in North America in detail. The text then discusses the formation of the Unites States as a nation independent from colonial powers, and moves through the major political, cultural, and social developments that the nation experiences over the following 220 years. Each chapter includes key vocabulary terms and a timeline. The chronologically arranged chapters each have an introduction and subsections, and each term in the index is hyperlinked to the section where it is discussed. This textbook does a fine job of covering a broad period of time with a complex history, in my opinion.
While overall, this text is fairly accurate, there are a few moments where language or interpretations from historical sources were incorporated into the texts without a critical framework. For example, section 1.3 notes that enslaved indigenous peoples of the Americas were not a "dependable source of labor" for Spanish colonists because "they tended to sicken or die from disease or the overwork and cruel treatment they were subjected to" and that Black laborers sent to the invaded indigenous lands "proved hardier." While that may technically not be a historically inaccurate fact, the language used to describe the difference in immunity between those enslaved from indigenous nations in what is now called North America, and that of those enslaved from African nations seems biased and rooted in racial narratives of Blacks. This could be easily resolved within the text by quoting a primary source or using more neutral terms. While issues like these were not widespread throughout the text, their presence was concerning to me, as an instructor.
I found this text to be fairly relevant. In particular, throughout most of the text I found the direct discussion of racism and racialized issues mostly up-to-date for teaching a course at the moment, as there are many American history texts that tend to obscure and minimize these issues as driving forces in political, cultural and social life. The text currently contains history up through the Obama presidency, I hope that it will be updated with material from 2016-2020, now that this chapter of American political life has ended. The chronological structure of the text will make recent history easy to incorporate, but I would encourage the authors to keep abreast of newly published research for the earlier time periods and revise their chapters when possible.
Overall, this text uses clear and easy-to understand prose. In my opinion, it is appropriate for students at the high school level, or for an introductory or survey course at an undergraduate institution. Vocabulary terms that would be unfamiliar to a modern reader are defined in text and are also highlighted at the end of each chapter.
The text is fairly consistent overall, although I found some chapters to be stronger than others, in terms of their historical objectivity, as noted in the "accuracy" section above. The framework and structure of the text was very consistent, and terms were relatively consistent throughout the text.
Each chapter's subsections were very readable, and the text overall is fairly modular. Although I think that the structure of this text lends itself best to courses that are taught chronologically. An instructor hoping to approach US history from a thematic perspective, with units on, for example, women's rights or labor rights, would not easily be able to isolate that material. This is common, though, for history texts, of course, but thematic sections might be something to consider for a future version of the text, or for an additional open-source US history book.
This text was very well organized, with each chapter covering a chronological period, and subsections with clear headings highlighting specific events or movements and their impact.
I read this book on a web browser and found the interface to be fine. In particular, I appreciated the inclusion of "click and explore" sections where students can link out and review primary sources a benefit for the online format/interface of this textbook. I think that there could be some additional critical thinking prompts around the historiography of some primary source links, but allowing the students to analyze some of these materials on their own certainly strengthens the learning experience of the subject matter.
I only noticed a few grammatical errors, and they did not detract from the reading experience in my opinion.
Overall, I got the sense that the authors of this text worked hard to compose a fairly culturally-sensitive history of the United States, and for the most part handled much of the material related to race and ethnicity accurately, for example, noting that racial hatred motivated some of the atrocities in the Vietnam War. Personally, I think that the text could have gone even further to construct an inclusive history, especially in regards to the discussion of native nations of what became known as North America. Certain terms used in this text, for example noting that, in what the text terms "native peoples of the eastern woodland" native peoples "did not construct the large and complex societies" like those of the peoples who inhabited lands west of the Mississippi River. While the social structures and cultural practices of nations like the Iroquois and Lenape were certainly very different from the Anasazi, terms like "complexity" have connotations of prestige and hierarchy, which can be seen as discounting the highly developed elements present in many eastern native nations, from precise agricultural methods and to fine art forms.
The links out to primary source material are excellent, and useful instruction tools. I also found that including many of the key documents in U.S. History, like the Constitution, in the appendix were helpful, so students can refer to these throughout the course. Some of the review questions I found to be overly simplistic, and I would also note that critical thinking prompts around historical revision, for example "Did the US make the right decision to drop atomic bombs on Japan" could cause some extreme tensions in classroom discussions, and may create challenges around cultural sensitivity for instructors. While its important to have students consider the impact of history, it's also critical to remember that students are likely to have personal or familial ties to these historical events, and debating what "should have" happened in the past does not alter the historical reality. Instructors should consider how a student with Japanese heritage might feel during such a discussion, and be sure that there is a clear learning objective before assigning the critical thinking prompt.
The text is very comprehensive, and it covers all of the appropriate subjects for United States History I and II. The table of contents clearly illustrates the major themes and topics in United States History. read more
The text is very comprehensive, and it covers all of the appropriate subjects for United States History I and II. The table of contents clearly illustrates the major themes and topics in United States History.
I have found two errors in the textbook. I have submitted both of the corrections to OpenStax, and they have corrected the errors. (One was a date error and the other error was a geographic error.) Their support team was very receptive to my findings.
I believe the content (text) is up-to-date, and they add new content to ensure that the textbook stays relevant. I believe that some of the images are out-of-date. I understand that they are trying to use open source material, but I believe that there could be better image options to illustrate the content. They also need to update some of the hyperlinks used in the "Click and Explore" sections. These links sometimes take the reader to an out-of-date website or a broken URL.
The textbook is very easy to read. The text is very clear and appropriate. Any jargon/technical information is explained.
The entire textbook is consistent. The reader knows what to expect for each chapter. The framework is clear and does not alter throughout the book.
I believe that this is one of the strong suits of the textbook. The smaller sections are easy to digest. There is little disruption to the reader and the entire book has a nice flow to it.
Some chapters cover duplicate information. This can be frustrating when assessing students on a term or subject when they haven't read both of the chapters where the information is covered. I think it would be better for the students if there was a clearer break/cutoff from one chapter to another.
My only issue with the interface is the "Click and Explore Section". I feel that these hyperlinks need to be better vetted. There should be more quality control measures for checking these outside links. I tell my students not to click on the links.
There are no signs of grammatical errors throughout the textbook.
The text is inclusive of a variety of races, ethnicities, and backgrounds. The text sets the tone of cultural sensitivity/awareness in the first chapter and continues to follow this awareness throughout the entire book.
The book is extremely comprehensive and includes a glossary for the words selected to be defined and included in it. The problem is that the glossary at the end of each chapter is labeled "Key Terms," but it includes a mixture of what I would... read more
The book is extremely comprehensive and includes a glossary for the words selected to be defined and included in it. The problem is that the glossary at the end of each chapter is labeled "Key Terms," but it includes a mixture of what I would consider to be need to know terms (actual key terms) and nice to be able to look up if you don;t know them words (such as one would find in a glossary at the end of the book). The book would be greatly improved by moving the comprehensive glossary to the end of the book and limiting chapter key terms (which could them be looked up in the glossary if the definition is not clear in the text).
Overall the book is very accurate and error free. It could benefit from a few changes. For example, the book uses the term Atlantic World but does not define it according to the definition as it is put forth by Atlanticists. This book will most like be used in a survey course and students will go on to take additional history courses, one of which might be the Atlantic World. As much as possible the book should define terms like this in the way they are defined by historians in that field.
The content is up to date and presented in ways that will remain relevant for a fairly long time.
The book tends to be wordy in that much of the writing is in passive voice. The book would benefit from an overhaul to revise it using active voice. Additionally, there are always a number of words in each chapter that are not course specific, but are used under the assumption that the student will know what they mean. I am constantly needing to provide my own online glossary for my US History courses because many of my student do not have knowledge of many non-vocabulary words that are casually used in the text. Because they are not subject-specific words, they can be easily swapped out for simpler terms. Doing this will not "dumb down" the content of the book, but will make it more accessible to first-generation, first-semester, low-income, and ESL students.
I have had no problems with the book's inner consistency.
The book has easily identifiable modules and sub-modules that are easy to follow. They break up the long chapters, but do not interfere with the flow of the topics.
The book is clearly organized by topic and chronologically within each topic. Chapters may overlap chronologically, but that does not interfere with the student's ability to make connections between one chapter topic and the next. It also provides a good way for the instruction to review by helping students bridge the topic and chronology over 2-3 chapters.
The interface is excellent whether one is reading the book chapter by chapter or using a search feature to find specific information, especially if that information is not in the index.
It is grammatically correct, but largely written in passive voice. We instruct students to use active voice in their own writing and it would be better if the book modeled this writing style.
I find the book to be written with cultural sensitivity. Images and text are inclusive of a wide audience of varied race and ethnicity.
I use this book in both of my US History survey courses, so my main message is: this book works very well. It was an easy swap form a print textbook to this no-cost OER. 77% of my students were not buying the print textbook. Beginning in Fall 2020 they will all have equal access to the material.
In comparison with commercial textbooks, the range and coverage are good. The authors clearly worked diligently to include the major points of the history necessary for an introductory text. The Index needs to be more comprehensive, it is too... read more
In comparison with commercial textbooks, the range and coverage are good. The authors clearly worked diligently to include the major points of the history necessary for an introductory text. The Index needs to be more comprehensive, it is too abbreviated. There is no glossary and this is a problem. The text is light on definitions, for instance, imperialism is never defined, hegemony is never mentioned. The idea of the US as a nation that has never practiced imperialism is very strongly embedded in our national discourse and changing that mind set can only happen with a concentrated barrage of basic definitions and facts in our texts. Not to speak for anyone else, my students need basic definitions.
This is an essential demand of any academic text and certainly met by these authors. I did not find any errors.
It may just be the moment in which I am writing this, late June 2020. The call for more inclusive historical matter is loud. In the list of authors, I do not see a single African American historian, no Native Studies, no Women's History, no Gender Studies historian. I have to agree with the critique written by an earlier reviewer who said that this text shows a decided slant that the history of white men is the history of the US. Clearly, the authors made an effort to include voices and people outside the majority white and male historical record, yet this is also clearly an aspect of the text that will need to be further amended. We need to hear the voices that say, for example, race is at the center of US history, that say native people are the beginning and center of US history, that call for the centrality of women's history, of those of non-compliant sexual identity.
The text is lucid, sensible, well written, well organized. It will help students erect a framework of US history in their own minds. There is still work to be done to more adequately address the lack of robust use of definitions.
Usefully organized, consistent in style. Students seem to learn best when, over the course of a term, they can rely on a steady model of instruction so they can use their energies to absorb the information. The text does a good job of maintaining uniformity of structure over the chapters. Considering that there were several authors, the consistency is laudable.
This is an interesting criteria. The book does meet this criteria, the subject headings are certainly not followed by large blocks of text. There is hardly a page without some type of pictorial insert, hardly a subject matter that extends for more than a page or two. Henry James would not be impressed. This is a pedagogical point of view with which I do not agree but which is so widespread and imposing that it is not really worth an argument.
The historical chronology flows in an orderly manner. Historically, more than one or two things are happening at the same time so maintaining a clear narrative is essential. The organization of the material, even in complex situations such as when the US has both international as well as internal struggles is nicely done.
This is an aspect in which the book excels. Once the book is opened, it attracts readers as well as casual browsers. I have seen several generations glance at it, then turn a few pages and then sit down to read more. Far from confusing or distracting readers, the layout of the pages invites readers to delve into it.
I am very thankful for the well constructed, grammatically correct writing of this text. This is a necessity that cannot be over emphasized for my students. Modeling excellent writing is a tremendous help.
This is problematic. The authors did include instances of historical moments when non-white, non-male actors were the agents of history. However, the point of view is clearly white and male. This point of view has been very gradually becoming less and less acceptable over the last few decades and there is now a very concerted push to change it. How this will play out over the next couple of years will, at least, be interesting.
I am very excited to begin using this book. By its very existence, it offers a new modality of teaching that is less hierarchical and more inclusive. Too many students have been constrained from succeeding in class by the cost of the texts. I appreciate the work done by the authors. Thank you so much.
On its face, the text appears to mirror the topics one sees in a typical commercial textbook. However, when you dig a little deeper the book lacks the narrative and interpretive quality of recent commercial textbooks such as the popular text by... read more
On its face, the text appears to mirror the topics one sees in a typical commercial textbook. However, when you dig a little deeper the book lacks the narrative and interpretive quality of recent commercial textbooks such as the popular text by Eric Foner. This might be a result of a modular approach with multiple authors. For students who pick up the book sporadically and read only a few sections, this might not be a problem. For students who enjoy reading, however, this book will surely disappoint. The most concerning aspect of the book is the casual and often sloppy nature of the text. There are so many times when the text makes an assertion that is not supported by recent scholarship that it is clear that professors are not reviewing this text in detail. I have provided an example of this from Chapter 17 at the end of this review.
The book offers lots of facts and generally gets things right, but there are times when the book will leave any serious student of history scratching their head. Word choice and precision seem to be one of the Achilles heels, but students will still get an overview of the period, and hopefully, that will serve as background for understanding lectures and other parts of a course. Here is an example where word choice might lead students to an oversimplified dichotomy: "Many consider the Enlightenment a major turning point in Western civilization, an age of light replacing an age of darkness." The book also refers to nonwhite people as heathens several times without unpacking that term in historical context. This could be dangerous. Here is an example: "Slaves were cared for, supporters argued, and were better off exposed to the teachings of Christianity as slaves than living as free heathens in uncivilized Africa. " and again: "While much of the basis for westward expansion was economic, there was also a more philosophical reason, which was bound up in the American belief that the country—and the “heathens” who populated it—was destined to come under the civilizing rule of Euro-American settlers and their superior technology, " Referring to Native Americans and enslaved people of African descent as heathens so casually in the text seems problematic to say the least. I understand what the authors' intent is, and with some revision, these sections could be vastly improved.
I think the book does reasonably well here by blending political and social history. I can easily quibble with some choices, but that is true of all textbooks.
This is one of the strengths of the book - most times it is written in a way that should allow most students to move quickly through the text.
The book seems consistent when it comes to presenting history from a white, male, European perspective. When it comes to women's history, the book is consistent in offering only a brief and limited perspective. Take women's suffrage as one example. If a student missed a few special sections that cover women's history, they would not see many positive contributions of women. If a student read this book cover to cover, they would gain the impression that women's suffrage was only a moment in history instead of the culmination of generations of thoughts and actions.
The book is arranged similarly to other textbooks, so it should be easy to take what one needs should modularity be a concern. One possible area of concern for those seeking to adapt the text is the quality of the auxiliary materials such as the reading quizzes. These sorts of resources appear to be an afterthought for this open text just as they are often an afterthought for other publishers. Here is an example of a textbook question that needs to be reconsidered: 7. Which of the following groups was not impacted by the invention of barbed wire? ranchers cowboys farmers illegal prostitutes
I think the organization of the book is fine-mostly chronological with some thematic aspects similar to other U.S. history textbooks.
Again, this is fine. It is easy to move around in the book and it is digitally searchable. This is not a comment about the text, but please notice that most of the categories reviewers are given are not about the content of the book. So while this book might rank high in terms of stars, many other faculty have also pointed out issues about this book's content.
The book seems to be written for a general audience and is straightforward, easy to read, and no obvious misspellings. Fans of the Oxford comma might be disappointed.
Coverage of race and gender is the fatal flaw of the text as it stands in 2020. Here is an example in Chapter 17 where the authors make the false and extremely racist assertion that most women in the West were prostitutes until the wives of wealthy white men arrived. "The few women who went to these wild outposts were typically prostitutes, and even their numbers were limited. In 1860, in the Comstock Lode region of Nevada, for example, there were reportedly only thirty women total in a town of twenty-five hundred men. Some of the “painted ladies” who began as prostitutes eventually owned brothels and emerged as businesswomen in their own right; however, life for these young women remained a challenging one as western settlement progressed. A handful of women, numbering no more than six hundred, braved both the elements and male-dominated culture to become teachers in several of the more established cities in the West. Even fewer arrived to support husbands or operate stores in these mining towns. As wealthy men brought their families west, the lawless landscape began to change slowly. Abilene, Kansas, is one example of a lawless town, replete with prostitutes, gambling, and other vices, transformed when middle-class women arrived in the 1880s with their cattle baron husbands. These women began to organize churches, schools, civic clubs, and other community programs to promote family values. They fought to remove opportunities for prostitution and all the other vices that they felt threatened the values that they held dear. Protestant missionaries eventually joined the women in their efforts, and, while they were not widely successful, they did bring greater attention to the problems."
There should be more review categories related to a book's content for books in the humanities.
The text is very comprehensive, and its 32 chapters give a broad overview of American history from Pre-Columbian times to the end of Barack Obama's presidency. The chapters are organized both chronologically and thematically. The chapters do not... read more
The text is very comprehensive, and its 32 chapters give a broad overview of American history from Pre-Columbian times to the end of Barack Obama's presidency. The chapters are organized both chronologically and thematically. The chapters do not delve into too much detail, and instead, consist of an overview. The review and critical thinking questions, at the end of every chapter, are a great way to assess students and check for understanding. While the book is mostly a political history, it also encompasses social and economic history.
The text is very accurate. I found no significant errors in my reading. While no history text can be completely unbiased, this text presents a balanced view. It consistently tries to tell both sides of the story. We hear the perspectives of both settlers and natives on the frontier, Patriots and Loyalists during the Revolution, and secessionists and abolitionists during the Civil War. The balance also extends to more recent and relevant political issues.
The book is generally up to date and represents the most recent scholarship. The nature of the text itself allows it be be easily updated with new information and developments.
The text is written very clearly. The language used is accessible to the vast majority of undergraduate students. It is well written and generally enjoyable to read. Some portions are rather dry, especially those dealing with political wranglings and legislation. However, some passages are very engaging and read almost like a novel. Although the narrative is broken up my many headings, it flows well. It does not have the complicated and politicized jargon of other history textbooks.
I also liked how the book consistently references and reiterates events and developments that had taken place in previous chapters. The chapters always provide a broad overview of themes, while not being afraid to delve into lesser known historical events and figures.
The chapters are organized by political, social, and cultural history. They are broken down into many subsections. Instructors that want to rearrange the material are easily able to do so without sacrificing clarity.
The chapters are very well organized. However, they are not organized in strictly chronological order. Chapters often overlap in terms of time period.
There are no issues with navigating the interface.
I did not notice any grammatical errors.
The text is inclusive and represents many different groups. Inclusion of women's history, black history, native history, and Asian history is consistent throughout the text. The text reflects the diversity that is characteristic of American history and society.
This is an excellent, free textbook. The language is easily accessible and engaging. I highly recommend this text for introductory US History courses.
This text breaks American history into typical chronological and thematic chapters. There are also consistent themes emphasized throughout the chapters, such as women's history, Black history, and Mexican-American history. read more
This text breaks American history into typical chronological and thematic chapters. There are also consistent themes emphasized throughout the chapters, such as women's history, Black history, and Mexican-American history.
The book is constantly updated to resolve any inaccuracies.
The book's content extends (as of the end of 2019) to the end of the Obama administration. Throughout the semester, the book was continuously updated with corrections. There are also a number of online resources included that expand upon the information written in the text.
The book utilizes some jargon, but provides a glossary of important terms and their definitions at the end of each chapter.
Each chapter has consistent information, graphics, sub-sections, and resources.
Each chapter has specific sub-sections divided up into multiple subheadings as well, making for easily consumable readings about specific topics.
Each chapter is divided into multiple sub-sections, each with a separate topic, theme, or time period depending on how the chapter as a whole is organized. Each chapter is easy to navigate with sub-chapters divided further into sub-headings.
The book is simple to navigate, with in-text links being clearly marked and a navigation menu included in the left-hand side with clear titles for each chapter and sub-chapter.
Any grammatical errors are fixed consistently with updates.
The book specifically includes sections on women's history, Black history, and Mexican-American history. At times, these sections are small or lacking deeper analysis though.
This book is a useful survey course text that provides a succinct yet sweeping historical analysis of American history in a well-organized and accessible format, and includes plenty of online resources that expand upon the text itself.
This text covers US History brilliantly. The depth of research and care in including pertinent information is well done. read more
This text covers US History brilliantly. The depth of research and care in including pertinent information is well done.
While there could have been more information on minority contributions to US History, this text was accurate and well-balanced when it came to telling different sides of the stories of History.
Because it was well written and comprised, this text will be used for a long time in this reviewer's classes.
Students will find this text easy to use because of the highlighted words of importance and the end of chapter questions.
When the book refers to certain topics, such as the presidency of Andrew Johnson and the turmoil that brought, the text was very down to earth as well as technical when explaining certain situations. This will help students be able to increase their historical acumen and not make it so difficult for them to learn.
The modularity of the book is rather linear. However, if one is able to TOPICALLY and not chronologically teach history, then this would boost the rating significantly.
Very logical presentation and thoughtful arrangement of the text.
Most everything in the text was very easy to read and understanding was aided by the comprehensive definitions given throughout the text.
No grammatical errors reported.
While the text was not personally offensive or insensitive, many aspects of the true telling of history are. The text gracefully handles this and allows the reader to dive into the "why" of things rather than dwell on the acts of bigotry and hatred themselves.
This textbook could be a welcome main reader in any classroom. Students will be able to relate to the information and synthesize what they learned by utilizing the comprehensive helps contained at the end of each chapter, as well as studying the important vocab words in each section. Well-written and this text will be utilized by this professor for years to come.
The books covers the political narrative relatively thoroughly, but skews its attention to England and Europe over other areas of the Atlantic World in early chapters. The book is weakest in terms of coverage pre-1650 and post-1968. read more
The books covers the political narrative relatively thoroughly, but skews its attention to England and Europe over other areas of the Atlantic World in early chapters. The book is weakest in terms of coverage pre-1650 and post-1968.
Mostly free of major errors, though I would question some of the points of emphasis. There is generally a heavy focus on European viewpoints over indigenous viewpoints, with entire chapters dedicated largely to English/colonial understandings of economy, politics, and religion, while indigenous viewpoints are often in sub-sections framed by European/settler actions, like 3.4 "Impact of Colonization."
The book generally isn't focused in bringing the most current historical arguments into the text, which can at times make it feel a bit flat and free of argument. This does have the advantage that the book is unlikely to become dated in the short term.
The book is clearly written and the reading level is appropriate for high school and early college students. Professors will not have much work to do setting up the book or explaining difficult concepts. The disadvantage of having avoided jargon and technical terminology is that more complex concepts also seem to have been avoided.
The structure of chapters is consistent and the tone is fairly uniform throughout the text. The sections on the mid- to late-20th century seems a little different from the bulk of the book.
think these chapters could be used almost entirely modularly, almost to a fault. Unlike some standard texts (Foner, Give me Liberty or Cohen/Johnson/Roark, The American Promise) the book also does not have clear through lines that can be referred back to, either in terms of narrative or argument. This helps greatly with modularity, but limits what the text offers students in terms of connecting different aspects of US history.
There is a clear chronological approach to the text that students will find easy to follow and accessible. As mentioned above, there is an absence of connections between chapters/modules which somewhat limits the value of the chronological approach.
The interface is not particularly visually appealing, but is intuitive and easy to navigate. There are a number of excellent images that I haven't seen in other texts. These images could be presented in a larger format, rather than the default presentation being shrunk to a fraction of the width of the page.
I didn't notice any significant issues.
As at least one other review has noted, stating that Americanization "left them bereft of their culture and history" is not accurate and a potentially damaging statement. Asian American history is not dealt with in any sustained manner.
This textbook does an exceptional job of providing a comprehensive though still nuanced portrait of US history. I was particularly impressed with the colonial era and the authors’ devotion to setting up the complex interplay between African,... read more
This textbook does an exceptional job of providing a comprehensive though still nuanced portrait of US history. I was particularly impressed with the colonial era and the authors’ devotion to setting up the complex interplay between African, European and American societies. Within the colonial and national period, the author follows through in this promising beginning, emphasizing the changing history of gender and race and their larger connection to the “larger” political movements of the day. It also does a great job of introducing elements of environmental history. The authors’ written text places a larger focus on political history than it does cultural and social history. However, the primary sources integrated into the text would allow an instructor to consider cultural shifts with students in class. There are some mention of Asian -Americans, Latinos and immigrants from the Middle East, but they are not woven deeply into the text the way African Americans and, at times, Native Americans are. I think moving forward this would be an ideal place for expansion. For example, the author might move away from only touching Native American “removals” at the famous times in history – Trail of Tears, Custer, Dawes Act and integrate a consideration of Native Americans as one of the core groups living in the United States through its history. They might also give more attention to the experiences of African Americans in the South post reconstruction and before the Civil Rights Movements of the 1950s. A complex history of a sizeable portion of the US population is summed over through the use of the phrase “Jim Crow.” But students would understand later development, as well as contemporary debates, better if the authors made it a point to integrate the racialized terror and structural and institutional racism that pervaded the United States history through the nineteenth and twentieth centuries.
For the most part, the text has no explicit bias and is relatively error free. When the authors are outside the bounds of their expertise there tends to be more errors. For example, their coverage of pre-Columbian societies in Meso America includes outdated information regarding to Florentine Codex and the belief that Montezuma believed Cortes to be a god. The description of Central Mexico’s nation-states, urban spaces that often held populations of more than 60,000 people as “tribes” also gives a distorted view of the region’s past. Likewise, scholars view the Inca’s quipu as a system of writing. In other places, the lack of accuracy is more the stories that have been left out. These are relatively minor in an otherwise excellent history.
In those areas where the text provides, extensive coverage, it is up to date. Breaking up the standard narratives of history would make it far more applicable to the new ways that U.S. History is being taught. Necessary updates – as long as they stay within the general narrative structure– will be easy to incorporate.
Overall, the writing is clear and engaging. Moreover, by providing framing questions at the beginning of each chapter as well as a brief summary at the end of each chapter, the authors highlight the important take away for students.
When writing this review I had to look again and see if this was written by more than one author! The text is very consistent and keeps the same narrative focus and tone throughout.
Text is divided into reasonable chapters with subheadings. It is not overly referential. Chapters and sections could be rearranged, skipped and emphasized at will. I also loved that the authors’ divided between key terms, short information based questions and larger critical thinking questions. I think this does an excellent job of emphasizing the many different ways historians think about the past, and different areas of students learning.
Within each chapter, I found the structure and flow excellent. The maps, images and primary sources and very well integrated into the text. In fact, this is perhaps the best integration of images and maps that I have seen!
I found no problems with the interface. Images are clear. Text is clear. Many of the primary sources are integrated into the text limiting how much students would need to have multiple browsers open at the same time.
Free from grammatical errors.
Within each chapter, the text is not culturally insensitive. Yet, there is considerable weight given to the traditional players in US history. The stories of Latinos, Asian Americans, and African Americans is often put into the sidelines. I would like to see this integrated into the text.
I found that the text does broadly covers significant historical events and people in a broad overview. While there is not a lot of depth in the chapters, it makes a great overview do use if the instructor adds supplemental readings. The review... read more
I found that the text does broadly covers significant historical events and people in a broad overview. While there is not a lot of depth in the chapters, it makes a great overview do use if the instructor adds supplemental readings. The review and critical thinking questions are a great supplement, as well as the glossary. I teach multiple sessions of Multicultural America here at MSU-Denver and have been looking for a an inexpensive, if not free, supplement to my texts I require students to read, Ronald Takaki's "A Different Mirror" and Gary Nash's "Forbidden Love: The Hidden History of Mixed-Race America." The course covers from pre-Columbian American history through the present and have found myself having to lecture "filler" lectures to connect the different topics of the books. For example, U.S. History's first chapter's sections about Pre-Columbia America and pre-1500 Europe and Africa I will make required reading because it is important, but my students have had to rely on my lectures for this information. Multicultural America is required for all majors at MSU-Denver and over 90% of my students are not history majors. I can utilize "U.S. History" as supplemental assigned readings to reinforce my lectures on different important themes, such as the U.S. Constitution, the Civil War, American Imperialism, World War I, etc. I plan to incorporate portions of this text in my Spring 2020 classes.
I did not find any inaccuracies, but again, there could be more substance is some sections.
The text was written in 2013, so there is a gap of some of current issues facing America. But as for the rest of the text it is wll done.
The text is easily readable and does not use unnecessary complex words or jargon. Also, I was pleased to see the historic maps, illustrations and photographs included within each section. This helps keep the attention of the reader rather that having long stagnant readings.
Yes, the composition of the chapters are in a standard format that is consistent throughout the text.
I like how the chapters are broken into subsections without sacrificing the content's chronology. This will enable me to assign subsections of chapters for my students to read to supplement my lectures and other readings without compelling them to read the entire chapter.
Well organized and a chronological sequence as a good genral history text should be.
I had no problem with interface issues with navigating the text or distractions from images presented.
I did not encounter any grammatical errors.
The text is a great example of how today's "revisionist" history should be written. It is inclusive of a variety of peoples and their cultural and ethnic background.
Again, as I said at the beginning of this review, I will be using this text to supplement my lectures and other assigned readings in my Multicultural America courses in the Spring 2020. My students should find this text a welcome addition to the course.
One of the strengths of this text is its comprehensiveness. It covers all of US History, beginning with the status of Africa, the Americas, and Europe pre-Columbus. The text hits all of the major topics in American history that one can find in a... read more
One of the strengths of this text is its comprehensiveness. It covers all of US History, beginning with the status of Africa, the Americas, and Europe pre-Columbus. The text hits all of the major topics in American history that one can find in a typical survey text, ending around 2013 with the administration of Barack Obama. That being said, the text is far more broad than it is deep. One example of this is the aforementioned first chapter on the pre-Columbian world. Europe gets an extensive treatment here, with a robust description of life as far back as the end of the Roman Empire in the 5th century. Some of this seems unnecessary, especially since Africa and the Americas do not get the same treatment. The American section is far too vague, mentioning no names of important leaders like Pachacuti and Montezuma. Africa is discussed mostly in terms of its history of slavery prior to the Triangle Trade Route’s development, and other elements of African history are largely ignored. This is one of the major criticisms I have about the text. The depth of topics is varied; some topics are treated with great detail and nuance while other areas are glossed over too quickly.
I detected a good bit of bias in the latter sections of the text that deal with the politics of the last few decades. President Lyndon Johnson’s Great Society receives a glowing commendation with his various programs described in great detail; a sentence or two at the end of the section briefly mentions that conservatives were critical of his programs, but the reader is left with the sense that this was an unmitigated success. The chapter on the Reagan years is also very detailed in terms of laws and programs, but much of Reagan’s work is discredited, and he is painted as disingenuous compared to LBJ. Having examined many different texts for US History courses over the years, the bias I see here is nothing new or exceptional, but it is worth noting.
One of the greatest benefits of using an internet text like this is the supposed ability for revision and addition as needed, in a timely fashion. The text ends at 2013, and it seems the time has come for an update.
This is one of the most readable texts I have ever encountered for an American history course, but I also feel that it is perhaps too simplistic for some of my students. The language, vocabulary, and sentence structure seem more fitting for high school students than college students. For certain student populations, this would be a benefit, but instructors should be aware of this, especially if their goal is to get students to write and speak in more formal, academic terms. The glossaries at the end of the chapters reveal the simplicity of language.
The overall framework of the text is consistent, with review questions, glossaries, and learning objectives attached to each chapter. I found that the depth of coverage on topics is very inconsistent throughout the text, however, and this was a major drawback.
The modularity of the text was one of its strongest points, especially when compared to a similar online text for US History I have looked at in the past. I liked that the Table of Contents could be turned on to show continually in the margin so that the reader can move easily between sections. I did not have to scroll back up to the top of the page to get to another chapter of the text. I also found the search bar to be very helpful, pulling up a short excerpt from the text with each instance of the search term. All of these made this particular text very easy to navigate. The chapter titles were also generally well-labeled so that I could locate a specific section quickly.
The organizational structure makes sense. It is largely chronological, though some topics are grouped together instead of in a strictly chronological sense. For example, a president’s foreign policy might all be discussed in one section while domestic issues are grouped separately. This allows for continuity of ideas within topics.
I did not notice any issues with this. There are quite a few embedded links to outside resources, and the ones I looked at were all intact. I hope the editors maintain good links. I did notice a couple of links that took me to a general website instead of the specific article mentioned in the text; it would have been helpful to have the links go to the actual page mentioned.
There were no obvious grammatical errors that I noticed.
This text did an excellent job including a variety of voices, both within the text itself and through the use of sources from historically-marginalized groups. For example, there were links to slave narratives and a site about the Carlisle Indian School. I did find that the coverage of the women’s rights movements was too thin.
If your main criteria for a US History text are cost and readability, this is a text worth examining. It is most comparable to "brief edition" texts I have seen, and I often find those type of texts to be too brief to benefit my students very much. I do not think this is a text that would work for every U.S. History course, but for some student populations, it would provide a nice alternative to expensive textbooks.
The text addresses significant historical points, but without great depth. Though limited in content, the organizational framework/index of the text serves as a sufficient "guide" for a general survey course; however, it will need to be... read more
The text addresses significant historical points, but without great depth. Though limited in content, the organizational framework/index of the text serves as a sufficient "guide" for a general survey course; however, it will need to be supplemented with outside materials. Content limitations do allow an instructor the flexibility to tailor each chapter's content. The links to ancillary materials are helpful for examining documents pertinent to chapter learning outcomes, but these are limited. Chapter glossaries provide an opportunity to discuss terms and phrases necessary to the historical context pertinent to the chapter topics. As for the learning objectives, they are directed to the content of the online text; at times the brevity of chapter content alone does not allow sufficient information for developing critical thinking responses. Finally, the review and critical thinking questions serve as a reasonable guide for considering chapter content. Additional questions will need to be developed respectively for those points deemed more important for understanding chapter topics.
The absence of historical details limits a broader understanding of the historical events discussed; thus, the accuracy of the material is limited in this context. There exists in spots some level of bias: for example, the terminology used in Chapter 22.2 about nineteenth century views toward Filipinos reads: "Neither the Spanish nor the Americans considered giving the islands their independence, since, with the pervasive racism and cultural stereotyping of the day, they believed the Filipino people were not capable of governing themselves." These modern inferences suggest that concepts such as "racism" and "cultural stereotyping" were understood the same then as they are today. In Chapter 17.1 an 1845 quote from John O' Sullivan speaks about the meaning of the phrase Manifest Destiny. Later, the discussion question for the quote reads: "Even then, consider how the phrase “anyone” was restricted by race, gender, and nationality." Here the word "anyone" was not even used in O 'Sullivan's quote but implies, implicitly, that it was used--leading the question's context. The summary in Chapter 16.4 suggests a goal for the Reconstruction that is suggestive as opposed to authentic: "Reconstruction had failed to achieve its primary objective of creating an interracial democracy that provided equal rights to all citizens." Was this the purpose of the Reconstruction specifically? Additionally, the same Chapter 32.4 "implies" that Mitt Romney's loss to Barack Obama's in 2012 was based substantially on Romney's remark about the 47 percent of Americans dependent on government assistance without verifiable documentation: "Romney’s remarks about the 47 percent hurt his position among both poor Americans and those who sympathized with them."
Chapter 32.4's discussion of the American stock market's health as of 2013 is outdated where data since 2013 indicates an even better performance of the market since 2013. Six years of history since 2013 has substantively impacted the American political dynamics that should be addressed for its contemporary value.
Overall, the composition of the text is easy to read and does not integrate complicated syntax or terminology. In places the brevity of the discussion can lead to questions, but this is not due to the language used itself. For example, in Chapter 10.3, the meaning of "nullification" is not substantively explained as it reads: "The theory of nullification, or the voiding of unwelcome federal laws, provided wealthy slaveholders, who were a minority in the United States, with an argument for resisting the national government if it acted contrary to their interests." The term nullification requires a broader understanding as used here and even a further constitutional application/implication regarding the concept of "state's rights."
Each chapter contains a standard format which establishes a logical/consistent approach for following the information, which for the most part is objective. The amount of discussion is roughly the same per chapter.
The "modularity" of the text is reasonable using four to five subsections that for some chapters can be reordered without jeopardizing the content chronology.
The topics for the course follow a logical and chronological order.
No particular problems were noted as far as navigating the online links for access to the appropriate information. Some of the chapter images could be displayed more clearly: for example, time-line images, such as the one in Chapter 12.1 and the painting in 12.4, are not clear or difficult to view making them less advantageous as visual aids.
No particular grammatical errors were noticed. The language is readable and should not present a problem for college level students.
The text makes an effort to address culturally related issues, focusing mostly on African Americans and women to the exclusion or coverage of other minority and racial groups. For example, Chapter 23.3 devotes its discussion to the implications of African Americans and women during WWI; Chapter 26.3 focuses considerable attention on the plight and conditions of African Americans during the Depression, but not on other minority groups. Chapter 27.2 is the first chapter to be more inclusive of other cultures by addressing WWII home-front aspects of Hispanics and Asians (with marginal mention of Native Americans). In its attempt to be culturally attentive, 27.2 does so at the expense of neglecting the broader implications of the American home-front during the Second World War.
While it's impossible to cover everything, this book does an admirable job of going into detail about important topics. The opening chapters provide a breathtaking panorama of the early origins of human life in the Americas and the global scene... read more
While it's impossible to cover everything, this book does an admirable job of going into detail about important topics. The opening chapters provide a breathtaking panorama of the early origins of human life in the Americas and the global scene on the eve of transatlantic exploration; it proceeds to explain colonization with very meaningful emphasis on how it fit in with the larger context of global trade and comparative labor systems, free and unfree. In the chapter on the road to the Civil War, the sense of a compelling story with personalities and passions comes through clearly, and in the chapter on the Great Depression, its harsh ravages and the struggle to figure out what to do are expressed with suitable poignancy. The book is, in fact, so detailed that instructors of the two-semester sequence may need to do some selective trimming in what they assign, especially in colleges where students have full-time jobs and families as well as 15 credit hours of coursework. And in the context of the impossibility of being detailed enough about everything, and of all instructors having certain pet topics that they wish their textbook said more about, I would have liked to see more explanation of how the Salem witch trials fit in with the Puritan experience, on the family and community lives of the enslaved population in the pre-Civil War years, and a few other points here and there. In the discussion of both the Great Awakening and the Enlightenment, they might want to connect them with the impending revolution by pointing up their spirit (though affecting sharply divergent constituencies) of questioning traditional authority. Where the authors mention that there was talk in the early 1830s in the Virginia legislature of making manumission of slaves easier but that the idea was shot down, they might want to point out that the sentiment for regarding slavery as more trouble and danger than it was worth came largely from the state's western counties where land was less conducive to plantation agriculture, and that these counties would secede from the state and form West Virginia during the Civil War. Also, discussion of Henry George's single-tax theory is oversimplified to the point of being slightly misleading. They write that, according to George, there should be a land tax "in order to disincentivize private land ownership." Actually, George's intention was to disincentivize ownership of more land than one needed to make a productive living, ownership of land to charge rent on or to speculate on the western frontier. George believed that making land speculating in the West unprofitable would open up so much land for workers to migrate to that it would reduce the size of the urban workforce, thus giving those remaining in the cities greater bargaining power. Mentioning "Progress and Poverty" without some sense of the sweeping utopian vision, one that fits in with the general popularity of magic-bullet economic theories in those years, is a missed opportunity. I had the same reaction to the fleeting, teasing reference to Henry Ford's ill-fated attempt to open a factory in the Amazon jungle and impose Puritan morality on the workers. Speaking of Henry Ford, I also wonder whether any discussion of his life and work can be complete without some mention of what a prolific author of Jewish conspiracy theories he was. The description of the Civilian Conservation Corps of the New Deal correctly says that enrollees were paid $30 a month, but omits the fact that most of that money went home to their families rather than into their own pockets. In the discussion of the 1968 election, the significance of the George Wallace campaign and the conservative backlash could be given more value; merely calling him "segregationist George Wallace" leaves much out. But every textbook leaves a few things for instructors to impress their students by giving more detail about, so I still rate the book highly for thoroughness. Throughout the book, treatment of both the social and political dimensions of American life is meaningful and inclusive.
Every textbook has a few booboos here and there, and the ones I found in this one were mostly of a trivial pursuit variety rather than what would affect students' comprehension of concepts. In the section about the Stamp Act crisis of 1765, the book is imprecise about the specifics of when and how the Boston mob ransacked Lieut. Gov. Thomas Hutchinson's mansion, and also seems to treat the Sons of Liberty and the Boston mob as interchangeable terms for the same set of people. Also, it incorrectly states that Coxey's Army set out from Cincinnati. Actually, the marchers began their trek from Jacob Coxey's own town of Massillon. Cincinnati, being about 250 miles off in the other direction from where Coxey's Army was heading, played no part in the march. In the chapter on the New Deal, it gives the age range for enrollees in the Civilian Conservation Corps as 14-24. While some 14-year-olds did get into the CCC, they only did so by lying about their age; the intended minimum was never lower than 17. The National Youth Administration (another New Deal program) is depicted as having been terminated in 1939; it lasted until 1943. The book is also imprecise about what President Johnson and the Democratic National Committee offered to the Mississippi Freedom delegation at the 1964 party convention.
History textbooks need to be up-to-date in two ways: bringing the narrative up to the time of publication and keeping up with the latest scholarship on topics all through the chronology. This book does an admirable job on both counts.
The language is clear and readable. Paragraph length and placement of pictures and charts are quite suitable for making the work easy for undergraduates to follow. Concepts, for the most part, are explained meaningfully.
Consistency is strong. The book presents American history with a coherent throughline and shows connections between topics clearly. Many sections open with strong transition sentences that link what's coming with what has just been read.
Each chapter is divided into neatly labeled sections, and the table of contents allows for easy clicking into those desired sections. Instructors who want to adapt chapters to their own desired sequence will have an easy time doing so. Both the table of contents and the index have user-friendly links that maximize efficiency of topic browsing as well as of continuous reading.
Most of the organization is quite optimal, and as noted in the modularity rating, the organization is also adaptable to instructor preferences. By grouping the Missouri Crisis together with the Mexican War and the founding of the Liberty Party in the chapter on pre-1860 westward expansion, the authors effectively set the stage for the important role of the western frontier in the escalating North-South tensions that drove the country closer and closer to civil war. At the same time, it's interesting that the chapter on westward expansion after the Civil War spans 1840 to 1890 and includes Manifest Destiny and the Oregon Trail. Thematically, that makes sense, as those two topics are relevant to the romance of the frontier as a forerunner to the Turner thesis (which suitably gets mentioned at the start of the chapter on 1890s imperialism), but instructors of survey courses that use 1865 or 1877 as the semester break may find it inconvenient (but again, there is the modularity feature for that). The chapter on the years 1870 to 1900 refers to the Great Migration northward of African Americans as occurring "between the end of the Civil War and the beginning of the Great Depression," possibly giving the impression that a substantial proportion of that movement took place during the Gilded Age, when actually pre-1910 black migration to the North was small compared to what occurred during World War I. the years to which the term is usually applied. (The authors' reasoning seems to be a desire to juxtapose it with the section on European immigration which immediately follows.) In the chapter on World War I, the Great Migration is mentioned again, but in a manner that is slightly ambiguous when it comes to both numbers and timeframe. Historians more recently have emphasized the continuity of the black migration in the World War I years, not so much the decades before as with the decades after. The chapter on the 1960s very effectively shows the interconnection of issues involving Johnson's Great Society program, the civil rights and black power movements, and the tragedy of Vietnam. The confluence of the rise of the women's movement with the rise of multiple other rights struggles, the hippie counterculture, the failure in Vietnam, and the general chaos of 1968 and 1969 is also effectively shown.
No problems here.
Grammar is clean, as far as I can see, but it's slightly annoying that they refer to the 1800s rather than the nineteenth century, contrary to the habit we presumably want to instill in our young history scholars.
The lives and viewpoints of the different players, male and female, white and nonwhite, are meaningfully presented. Inclusiveness is strong with room in places to be even stronger. For instance, the section on African American cultural life under slavery has a fair amount of informative detail but could offer even more. The same is true of the family and community lives of Gilded Age immigrants in America's cities: good information with room for even more. Also, while that latter section mentions Chinatown alongside Little Italy, the subhead overlooks the Chinese by calling that section "The Changing Nature of European Immigration."
The book is worth considering as an option when teaching in any school where saving students money is an important priority. The book has its imprecisions and idiosyncracies here and there but is still solidly researched, constructed, and written.
The book is comprehensive, perhaps to a fault. It covers a wide spread of concepts and historical elements but never goes into too much depth. This sort of surface-level examination of material is suitable for a survey-level course, but unless the... read more
The book is comprehensive, perhaps to a fault. It covers a wide spread of concepts and historical elements but never goes into too much depth. This sort of surface-level examination of material is suitable for a survey-level course, but unless the students have a good deal of background knowledge, the text might confuse them over its coverage of certain topics.
The text is very accurate and in my examination of its contents, I have found minimal errors. The book also does not have too much of a bias, and tries to show multiple sides to historical issues.
The book is somewhat relevant but is hamstrung by its lack of depth. For instance, in section 28.4 on Popular Culture and Mass Media during the 1950s, it gives a brief overview of Rock and Roll, Hollywood, and Television. It does not go enough into the racial dynamics of Rock and Roll but does give some passing comments to it. There has been good recent research on the topic, but it is not seen in the text. This is a general overview of US history, but not really keeping up with current scholarship.
The book is free of jargon and is easily accessible for readers. Although I often wished the book contained more information, I found no fault in the manner by which the information available was presented.
The book has a standard chronological framework intermixed with some thematic elements. It is adequate.
The book is divided up into smaller sections that aren't too overwhelming. Granted, this often comes at the cost of depth, but I understand why the authors made the decision. Although I might not have organized the information in such a manner, I understand why they did, and they are consistent with the practice.
The topics are presented in a logical fashion, but the transitions and particularly the ends of the chapter are often choppy. Many times there is little to no rationale given as to why a particular section stops where it does.
The interface is fine, although I do wish literary primary sources had been incorporated in a less jarring manner. The pictures and navigation are nicely done.
The grammar is fine, and I did not see any major errors.
The book is as culturally inclusive as could be expected in a textbook. However, because of the lack of depth, it often felt that races, ethnicities, and backgrounds were merely given lip service instead of a true examination of their dynamics. For instance, the section of Gay Rights in 30.1 is woefully inadequate, mainly talking about Stonewall. The experiences of LGBT of color are not mentioned, despite a wealth of new research on the subject.
This is an adequate text and one I might assign for my in-person lecture courses so that I might be able to supplement the depth the textbook is lacking. I do not know if I would be as comfortable assigning it for my online classes since I cannot as easily provide context for the students.
The textbook covers most of the areas of US history, perhaps too much as some points and not enough in others but overall is comprehensive in covering political history. It is limited though in a lot of social history and history of the Southwest... read more
The textbook covers most of the areas of US history, perhaps too much as some points and not enough in others but overall is comprehensive in covering political history. It is limited though in a lot of social history and history of the Southwest US.
The book is accurate in the vast majority of what it is trying to do. The book, however, does a poor job of covering the "edges" of US history, especially other parts of the world. As other reviewers mentioned- the history of Africa is not well told, especially compared to European history. A similar problem is present in the history of indigenous people before Europeans and the history of the Spanish empire, both of which are poorly covered and in some cases completely wrong statements are made.
Like all history textbooks relevance is a moving target. As a general textbook I feels like it is trying to be all things to all people but that mostly results in a book that does not have the focus of others. It is also missing as much cultural history as I would like. By far the biggest problem of the book is its cursory treatment of Latino and Asian history. These are major fields which the author does not cover at all.
Yes, it is very clearly written in simple prose and free of jargon.
Yes the book is consistent. The book is longer on the 18th and 19th century than the 20th, so that is a concern. The 20th century portion should be expanded. It offers a lot of modules and short tests and other supports for easy reading.
Yes it is very modular and works well in a classroom where there are daily reading assignments. There are many sign posts and subheadings.
yes the book is presented in a logical clear fashion. It is history so things generally follow a chronological order.
The interface works but it is not aesthetically pleasing. Other textbooks like american ywap offer a better online layout with more documents, more pictures and material. While "Give me Liberty" are better productions on the page.
The text contains few grammatical errors that I could see.
No. The book shoots for the middle ground in US history and hits it well. It also does a fair job of covering African American history. It does a poor job of covering indigenous history, Latino/Borderlands History, and Asian American history. These fields have grown tremendously in the past 30 years and it is disappointing that few of the lessons are trickling down into textbooks.
The book is relatively comprehensive in its coverage of US history but it also feels dated in what is covers. This is especially the case in covering Latinos and Asians.
This textbook hits all the major points necessary for a US survey class, with particular emphasis on political history. The key terms demonstrate a commitment to all the "Greatest Hits" no survey would miss (carpetbaggers, the Sons of Liberty, the... read more
This textbook hits all the major points necessary for a US survey class, with particular emphasis on political history. The key terms demonstrate a commitment to all the "Greatest Hits" no survey would miss (carpetbaggers, the Sons of Liberty, the Roosevelt Corollary) alongside some relevant and inclusive new content I never learned about in college (charter schools, executive privilege, commodification). Particularly in the nineteenth-century chapters, illustrations like mugshots, blueprints, and book covers do a wonderful job of showing students the spectrum of primary sources available to historians. As a professor used to seeing the same 50-100 pictures in a textbook, I plan to use this textbook as a multimedia resource for its unusual photographic finds. The appendix mostly contains America's "founding documents" and adds very little you can't find already online.
I found the textbook accurate within my own field (colonial history). The authors clearly put effort into acknowledging the continental presence of Native people and their continuing power into the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. The section on the rise of Chesapeake slavery is comprehensive, and I found the chapter on the Revolutionary War highly engaging. I did hope for more non-English history after the "Colonial Powers" chapter, and found that political and elite intellectual history (think the Interregnum and Enlightenment, but without how they affected average folks) dominated social and cultural history. Additionally, the small case study sections meant to highlight historical individuals ("Americana" and "Defining American") referenced often white, male leaders that students are already familiar with, like James Madison and Walt Whitman. Although there were great ones later on (Women Democrats in the 1930s), I'd like to echo a previous reviewer who hoped to see average individuals highlighted throughout.
This book will continue to be useful, particularly if the authors are able to update their final chapters. New information about organizing history, like the Molly McGuires, Cesar Chavez, and the Working Man's Party reflects its growing importance in the field. The textbook goes up to the twenty-first century, and could use an update when it comes to the short section on America and the World- there's a lot to say there! I'd also be interested in seeing more on the continuing feminist or Civil Rights movements that will resonate with students.
The prose is very consistent and simple throughout. Even though there will be new terminology for readers, the narrative of key events, like the Battle of Wounded Knee, will make larger concepts memorable for students. The "Americana" and "Defining American" sections also use individuals to illustrate the more abstract ideas discussed, like Malcolm X and the concept of the "New Negro."
Although the textbook was written by several different authors, I found the framework consistent throughout. The simple terminology used might take time to break down something complex, but it adds substantially to the clarity of the piece. The timelines, which bring together abstract or disparate concepts (Battle of Fallen Timbers and Treaty of Ghent on the same timeline), will help students find where each piece fits chronologically as they learn about them separately. I also found it useful that each chapter ends with a summary paragraph explaining how the changes just discussed will affect the events covered in the next chapter.
Each chapter is organized into units with multiple sections about a page apiece, and concludes with sample multiple choice practice, critical thinking questions, and useful key terms. It seems to flow best to break down the chapters by units, which run anywhere from 3-12 pages, than by the page-long sections. Some of the chapters are considerably shorter than others, but I doubt students mind.
The organization is clear. I will add that, because the time periods covered in each chapter overlap substantially, you may find it difficult to find a discrete event. (For example, the nineteenth-century representation of Native peoples is in the Age of Jackson chapter and not the Westward Expansion chapter.) Depending on how you structure or periodize your class lectures or assignments, you may want to familiarize yourself with the unit headings and assign components of multiple chapters to your students.
I am reviewing the hardcover book- and it is very large! It is good quality and seems like it can take a beating. The images might seem a little small compared to the online interface, but there's nothing here to confuse or distract a reader.
The textbook is overall inclusive. Some teachers might find unusual the fact that African-Americans and Native people sometimes have their own separate sections in each chapter. Some of the language, like "Hispanic" or "Indian" might need more specificity. The only specific problem I have is with the "Americanization of Indians" section which says that forced assimilation of Indians "left them bereft of their culture and history." Many folks would disagree!
Like most contemporary US History textbooks, this text begins before 1492, setting the scene for Iberian and later French, Dutch, and English colonization of the Americas. As an environmental historian, I think magnitude of the native depopulation... read more
Like most contemporary US History textbooks, this text begins before 1492, setting the scene for Iberian and later French, Dutch, and English colonization of the Americas. As an environmental historian, I think magnitude of the native depopulation caused by the Columbian Exchange is not given quite enough attention. This early under-representation of environmental influences upon history continues throughout the text, as does a more general lack of attention to the stories of regular people. Most of the text, like most survey textbooks, focuses on political history with an occasional foray into cultural or intellectual history (such as brief looks at the Second Great Awakening or Alexis de Tocqueville’s critique of American democracy. The general outline and construction of the text makes sense (it’s mostly chronological with some overlap between chapters), and sections generally contain Review Questions that test factual retention and Critical Thinking Questions at the ends of chapters that encourage students to analyze and synthesize. The text is comprehensive in the sense that it is a skeleton of major events in (mostly) political and (partly) cultural history. This is sufficient as a foundation for additional layering by the instructor and additional (especially primary) readings – and for some instructors may be preferable to a “one stop shop” textbook that tries to stuff everything into a single volume and inevitably makes interpretive choices that drive the resulting course. The text is comprehensive in its coverage of most major events
The text accurately portrays the history it covers. Other reviewers have criticized omission of particular elements of US History (Japanese internment, US response to the Holocaust, etc.), much as I have criticized what I considered inadequate coverage of environment. I think these issues are more about comprehensiveness than accuracy; the events and people covered seem to be portrayed accurately.
Since I think the strength of this text is its “skeletal” coverage of major events, I don’t envision the need for regular updates or fears of becoming irrelevant. Interpretations change more rapidly than consensus on the major events of US History. Also, the ability to continuously update and enhance an electronic text should allow the authors (or remixers) to contribute to a growing “body” of history built on this “skeleton”.
This text seems quite readable while maintaining a sense of narrative authority.
The modular design of the text is very helpful and probably mitigates the slight variation in style and focus from section to section. I don’t think a student reading the text in a linear fashion from start to finish will encounter any jarring instances of shifting style or emphasis. The text appears to have a single narrative voice.
The text is logically organized and easy to navigate in electronic format (which is all I’ll be using). The addition of hyperlinks to outside sources is helpful, appropriate, and timely throughout the text. This is an advantage of any electronic text, but it is well implemented here and unusually valuable since the links are open-source rather than existing behind a corporate paywall.
Fewer errors or rough patches than most other textbooks I've reviewed.
The text seems to try to respect cultures and avoid offense, as well as making an attempt to critique the dominant culture when appropriate. An increased focus on the voices of underrepresented populations would enhance multicultural perspective, but this seems beyond the scope of the text as I plan to use it.
My criticisms regarding coverage should not be taken as disqualifying the text as a foundation for a survey course. If US History surveys are envisioned as addressing the dual goals of acquainting students with the broad outlines of our history (what happened, when?) and encouraging them to think critically about the past and relate the past to the present (why did these things happen? why do we care now?), then I think this text will be a valuable foundation and skeleton on which I can build a structure that includes more diverse voices, views from below, and critical perspectives. I’ll update this review in a few months, after I’ve had a chance to use the text in a class and have seen students interact with it.
US History is certainly comprehensive: the task of tracing the development of the United States from pre-colonial times to the second term of President Barack Obama is a daunting one. I think that the text might work better in a history course... read more
US History is certainly comprehensive: the task of tracing the development of the United States from pre-colonial times to the second term of President Barack Obama is a daunting one. I think that the text might work better in a history course that ended in 1914, since the sections that covered the colonial, Civil War, and Progressive eras were lengthier and more developed. However, with some supplements, the text could certainly be used in a survey course in American History or American Studies.
A text can be factually accurate, but it can avoid topics, minimize topics, and underdevelop topics, and this was something that I found to be a problem with US History. For instance, in the scant section that covers differing philosophies of land ownership, the authors simplify or ignore the differing philosophies of land stewardship held by indigenous peoples, while definitely eliding over the imperialistic and nascent capitalistic impulses of the Europeans whose ideas of land ownership derived from much more than just, as the authors put it, the colonizers' fealty to land ownership ideas contained in "the Christian Bible." Obviously, the intended audience for this text may not possess the knowledge set to engage with highly advanced analysis, but therein lies the issue: for uninformed readers, this introduction needs to encourage greater critical thinking about the motivations of historical figures and movements.
The text is set out in such a way that it can be easily updated with 21st-century developments, and the chapters and sections are set out so that they could be enhanced without disturbing the overarching structure of the text. The content itself is relevant; what would be helpful, though, would be the inclusion of terminology that is being used in the work of progressive social, cultural, and political movements.
The text, for the most part, is lively and engaging; the inclusion of pictures and of links to museum collections is a wonderful aspect of this text. Often, I will ask students to do that sort of enhanced reading and research, so having the resources available as links is very helpful. As I mentioned above, though, I would have liked to have seen the authors engage with issues such as "whiteness studies" and other critical race theory terms.
Although there is some mild variation among sections, for the most part US History remains consistent in its chapter structure and selection of content. For instance, Chapters 18-20 provide ample background for readers to understand the impulses that led to what was termed "the Progressive era," and I also appreciated inclusion of a glossary in each chapter.
One of the greatest strengths of US History is its listing of objectives and goals at the beginning of each section. This is helpful for syllabus, assignment, and test construction, and it also encourages students to understand, up front, what they are to be looking for in the content. I also liked how each chapter was sufficient in terms of length, while also providing resources for further research and reading. I could see excerpting chapters on the movement from east to west in order to create a course on that subject matter; it would also be possible to focus solely upon wartime in the US via the use of selected chapters. This aspect of the text is also very helpful.
Given that US History is a survey text, the choice of chronological organization makes sense; as I mentioned above, it would be possible to develop a thematically-based syllabus, with the use of excerpted chapters.
Each chapter is easy to access, has clearly marked sub-sections, and includes well-designed and situated maps, charts, graphs, and images. The inclusion of museum links, and other informational links, was a highlight of this text.
The text was conveyed in lively, consistent, and lucid prose. I did find that the passive voice was used a great deal, especially in sections that deal with "sensitive" subject matter. In those instances, it would have been helpful for the authors to take ownership of their own analysis.
The authors do attempt to show the viewpoints of a number of factions, societies, or cultural groups, though I sometimes felt that the terminology was a bit outdated and that the detail in terms of explanations could have been stronger. Motivation is a significant aspect of historical writing, and sometimes the motivations of peoples rested upon generalizations that needed refinement. As an example, Chapter 4 on English internal politics and colonial aims was extremely useful in providing context for the development of many of the colonies; a similar level of background would have been helpful in Chapter 23 so that students would understand the complex causes of WWI. Moreover, critical race theory and other 21st-century interpretative lenses are less evident than I would have liked. I would probably feel the need to supplement this text with a series of contemporary essays.
If I were editing a second edition of this text, I would suggest including more excerpts from contemporary historians. Problematizing the study of history itself would also be a good addition to an enhanced introduction for students, as would updating the terminology. I could see using this text in an American Studies course, with the inclusion of supplemental essays and excerpts from primary texts.
Overall, this is one of the most comprehensive and engaging textbooks I have ever read! The vast majority of events, issues, and themes that I introduce in class and want my students to think about were covered, or at least introduced. The way the... read more
Overall, this is one of the most comprehensive and engaging textbooks I have ever read! The vast majority of events, issues, and themes that I introduce in class and want my students to think about were covered, or at least introduced. The way the book integrates histories of underrepresented groups, for instance--especially those of Native Americans, African Americans, and women--are, with few exceptions, intertwined with the rest of the historical record rather than presented as separate "niche" subjects. One major exception is that the experiences of enslaved peoples during the Middle Passage, in Northern areas, and even in the South prior to the Civil War, are largely overlooked. Slavery is consistently mentioned as a political issue, but students are not really introduced to people's lived experiences until Chapter 12, which focus entirely on plantations in the Deep South leading up to the Civil War. The book also does a great job of presenting the United States within a global framework. This begins right from the start, as the American colonies are examined within the context of European power struggles, and the creation of racialized chattel slavery is presented as the result of political and religious struggles among European nations, and with the Middle East and Africa. This excellent global context continues with Southern struggles during the Civil War linked to the English decision to purchase cotton from India rather than engage with a rebellious nation, and in the chapter on World War Two, which does a much better job than most texts of explaining the road to war in Germany and Italy. Two places where the historical record seems oddly confined to the United States are the various sections on labor movements and on immigration in the late-19th and early-20th centuries. Although the book does a good job of examining the many branches of labor politics in the United States (including the Communist Party's support of civil rights), I was surprised that it did not contextualize these struggles by discussing similar movements in Germany, Italy, and England. Indeed, clearer references to Karl Marx's writings as a whole would be helpful, especially given the lack of knowledge so many students have about Communism and other forms of Leftist politics. Similarly, the sections on immigration do a great job of explaining what life was like for people once they came to the United States, and how their cultural traditions impacted the United States in early 20th-century America. But students so often assume that people made this journey for "a better life" or strictly for economic purposes that it would help to make clear the war and discriminatory policies in Ireland, Italy, Russia, and the Ottoman Empire that informed people's decisions. I really appreciated the last two chapters, which look at recent history, especially since it is often so difficult to teach. I often find that historical patterns are not yet obvious, but these chapters do a great job of identifying some of the connections back to major themes, particularly how September 11 set into motion many current challenges, and the entire section on "New Century, Old Disputes." Section 31.2, which includes a look at the War on Drugs and the Road to Mass Incarceration, is also an exemplary way to get students to think about current problems, but could be expanded by including a look at Stop-and-Frisk programs and the rise in privatized prisons.
Overall, the book's historical accuracy is very high--I had few complaints with the content, even in areas, like the civil rights movement, that my own research focuses on. The connections that the book makes between several themes are particularly well done. An explanation of how corruption and neglect in Gilded Age-politics led to demands for reform during the Progressive Era, for instance, really helps students understand how change occurs, while the G.I. Bill is presented not only as a catalyst for a growing middle class in post-World War Two America, but as a means of systematically reinforcing racial segregation by working with racially-discriminatory banks, insurance offices, and school admissions departments. Although the HOLC and FHA should also be mentioned to let students know how the Federal government ensured racially-segregated housing patterns, these connections, along with a look at how Japanese Americans re-entered society after being forced into internment camps during the war, really help students see the limits of democracy during this period. There are a few particular areas that do need clarification or revision, however. Woodrow Wilson receives a fairly traditional treatment as a "liberal" president whose "enlightenment" led him to support the suffrage movement and global democracy, while his entrenched racism and sexism is overlooked. A few characterizations of Henry Ford are also inaccurate, although I may be particularly sensitive to this, being from Detroit, and often teaching Urban Studies classes. Not all workers received five dollars a day--the process for approval was actually strenuous and intrusive--and black and white workers were almost never paid equal wages. Finally, Ford only implemented fair working hours because the AFL had fought for this for years, and he did not want workers to unionize. Finally, 28.4, which looks at 1950s culture, was excellent--this is my particular area of research specialization, so I was thrilled to see an examination of teenage culture and consumerism, as well as explanations of how rock and roll music broached the color line during the civil rights movement. As much as I appreciate the subject's inclusion, however, the section puts too much emphasis on white rockabilly performers and Alan Freed, when black R&B artists and independent radio stations were just as crucial in creating and popularizing this music. Finally, the student and anti-war movements are covered quite thoroughly--I have never seen a textbook acknowledge ERAP and JOIN before!--and I particularly loved how the text parallels the connection between abolitionism and the suffrage movement with how the women's movement was shaped heavily by the civil rights movement. The one thing missing from this section is an examination of COINTELPRO--students should be aware of the fact that the federal government was responding to this movement in harmful ways, and what many activists were up against when they fought for these causes.
The book's focus on consumer and popular culture is very engaging, and in keeping with social and cultural historical trends. The chapter on advertising, for instance, explains how "access to products became more important than access to the means of production," which draws students in while simultaneously explaining a massive shift in how people related to the economy. One of my favourite sections in the entire book (as well as the accompanying primary source website link) is about Yuppie culture in the 1980s. It engages students who are currently intrigued by the fashion and culture of this time period, but is not so self-aware that it becomes dated. The summary indicating how Reaganomics hurt many vulnerable people while allowing yuppies to prosper puts this cool and fun examination into broader and more crucial historical perspective. The only caveat here is that a few of the links connect to articles that, while timely now, could become dated in the future. But since this is an open text, instructors could link to new articles if they so choose.
One of the book's best features is that many sections begin by reiterating prior information to provide context for what is to come. In section 28.5, for instance, the Double "V" campaign and the G.I> Bill's reinforcement of redlining in urban areas are both re-stated as framing mechanisms for civil rights struggles in the 1950s. Students do not necessarily remember the information they read about in prior weeks, or are able to see how one thing leads to or causes another. I love how this structure not only reminds students of what they have previously read, but shows how history does not occur in a vacuum, and that flow exists from week to week, and year to year. This is how I try to structure my classes, asking students for context at the start and end of each session, so it is ideal that the book is set up this way.
As previously stated, many sections begin by reiterating what has been learned earlier. Most chapters are broken down into political, social, and cultural issues, with particular examinations of distinct identity groups. Most presidents are given a brief biography and discussion of their importance within particular historical periods. And the country's global significance, while not evident in each chapter, is prominent enough that it may be deemed consistent throughout the text.
I actually used this review as an opportunity to break down reading assignments for next semester's class, and was pleased to discover that this was fairly easy to do. With the exception of Vietnam (which is discussed throughout three chapters rather than in one), separate chapters line up quite well with particular classes, and where they do not, they are broken down by sections fairly easily. Within sections, the text is nicely broken up by images with captions and/or analytical questions, brief primary documents with follow-up questions, and links to outside materials. It was fairly easy to get through each section since paragraphs tended to focus on narrow subjects, and were almost always followed by alternative sources and questions to immediately reflect on the text.
Overall, the book is very clear. Chapters are mostly divided in a way that mirrors my class syllabus, and the text maintains a clear historical thread of cause and effect throughout. There are a places, however, where the subject matter crops up in an odd place. An examination of life among enslaved people is confined mostly to the chapter preceding the outbreak of the Civil War, for instance. Even though slavery is discussed as a political issue throughout almost all of the preceding chapters, waiting until this point in the book to include a look at people's lives may mislead students into thinking that slavery only existed on Southern plantations, or that people did not begin resisting until the eve of the Civil War. The section on the Great Migration is also in a weird spot. The text introduces this topic in Chapter 19, which spans from 1870 to 1900, when migration patterns really did not begin to shift until World War One. It makes sense to identify push factors for migration at this point in time, but it would have made more sense to move the actual section to the chapter on World War One. Redlining is also mentioned in this section, which is again odd since this was not introduced until the 1930s. I actually liked how the text divided sections on the Vietnam War among three different chapters--doing so may help students understand this war's long history, as well as its many shifts under three different administrations. This is not how I teach my class, though--I usually devote a class or two to Vietnam alone. This is not unmanageable, since students will have been prepared for discussion by the time we get to the war, but I am not sure how much of it they will remember by this point. Finally, section 31.2, which focuses on the growth of the New Right, should come earlier, and be expanded to include a deeper look at the culture wars, especially how abortion became a focal point. The brief mention included here does not quite do enough to explain Reagan's political ascendancy.
Another of the book's best attributes are the many online links to primary sources, museum and government websites, artwork, and articles. I was planning on assigning a primary source reader to complement this book, but I think I will instead try to make use of these links. One of the major problems I have is getting students to complete assigned readings so that we can engage in discussion. Even if students do complete the readings, they often forget what they read about, or did not engage deeply enough to really analyze them. Having students examine the Federal Slave Narrative database, new immigrant oral histories from the Library of Congress, or exhibits at the National Cowboy Museum, however, may engage their interests, be completed more rapidly online, and also be useful for in-class activities. The only issue with these links is that, after clicking on them, you cannot navigate back to where you were in the text. I started opening links in a separate tab instead, so this is not much of a problem, but I could see students getting frustrated if they do not think to do so.
No glaring errors.
This book does an excellent job of intertwining the stories of underrepresented groups throughout U.S. history. The first chapter is a great example--it goes into much greater detail about the lives and traditions of distinct American tribes than I have seen in any other textbook. The book also presents events that have been obscured because of their effect on people of colour, like the police shooting at Jackson State College, alongside similar events, like the shooting at Kent State, to underscore how the race of those involved affects how we remember them. Overall, cultural competency is not merely an attribute of this book--it seems to have been a defining feature right from its inception. The one group that does not receive this treatment throughout most of the book is people who identify as LGBTQ. Sexual and/or gender identity is not even mentioned until the section on McCarthyism, and even then only for a brief moment. Subsequent sections on the Stonewall uprising, the Gay Rights Movement, AIDS and ACT UP, and the Defense of Marriage Act are far more detailed, but they seem to come out of nowhere for students if the actions and contributions of LGBTQ people are not mentioned in earlier chapters.
Overall, this was a comprehensive and entertaining book--I actually enjoyed reading most sections, and even learned new things about a subject I have been teaching for years. The outside links, images, and primary source excerpts make this an ideal book for teaching from all perspectives. Most importantly, the book presents the histories of women, African Americans, Native Americans, and other underrepresented groups as inextricable to the nation's story as a whole, and examines culture and everyday life almost as closely as larger political and economic shift. I am very excited to assign this book to my students!
Periods: Overall, good work by the authors. The text does fairly well with the pre-European contact period, although I’d still prefer more attention to North American Indians. The text is not unusual in this respect. It also would sure be nice if... read more
Periods: Overall, good work by the authors. The text does fairly well with the pre-European contact period, although I’d still prefer more attention to North American Indians. The text is not unusual in this respect. It also would sure be nice if the authors paid a bit more attention to areas west and south of the growing United States before they join the U.S. proper. We get good tales of why and how they join the union, but not much about what happened there before. Chapter 20 does cover populism fairly well, although it neglects recent scholarship on how important populism was in the mountain West, not just on the prairie/plains. Chapter 21: good coverage on progressivism overall, even if conservation seems a bit underplayed by the authors. I quite liked the split in the period of the Great Depression—starting with Hoover’s administration in chapter 25, followed by FDR in chapter 26. Hoover and his administration get more fleshed out in this way than in typical textbook coverage of the Depression. Themes: The key political events gain effective coverage. Although political history clearly serves as the organizing factor of this book, it does, at times, do well with social life—the urban life of chapter 19 being a good example. Race is dealt with properly as an important driver to many key events. Women’s lives also gain a decent place in the text, even if there are a few times when we get “women” sections (e.g., page 177, page 490). I’d rather have women more integrated into the narrative. The topics of work, workers, and socio-economic class show up when you’d expect them to. There are a few really effective moments when the textbook considers environmental history (the “selection of hats for the fashionable gentleman” on page 306 is a nice example), even if I’d personally prefer there to be even more attention to the theme. Unfortunately, by the time we get to chapter 29 (the 1960s), politics starts to dominate coverage more and more so that by chapter 31 (the 80s and 90s), it’s essentially all politics. I'd like more attention to other areas of American life--social, cultural, even environmental--in these later periods.
As a historian, I reject the idea that anything, including a textbook, can be “unbiased” (don’t we all hold biases?), but, yes, this textbook does a nice job of trying to look at the topics accurately and it is essentially error-free. A good example is the violence in the wild west section of chapter 17, which provides a nicely balanced view coming out of recent scholarship.
Yes, the textbook does a good job at tackling many topics with the use of the latest scholarship. I’d actually prefer if it was more up front about what kind of scholarship it’s using when, but that’s more of a pet peeve I have with all textbooks.
The text is well-written. Many sections are actually quite effective, even gripping, for a textbook. There are other times when it heads more into a bit drier textbook style, but it’s still always easy to read, quite accessible to the average reader.
The overall format of each book chapter is strong and includes well-written summaries of the key messages for each chapter at the end.
Yes, the textbook is easy to break up into sections so that they can be assigned at different points in the term. I’ve never thought it a good idea to have a book that doesn’t refer back to or build upon earlier materials in the book (wouldn’t that give the narrative more drive?), so I'm actually not sure "modularity" is a good aspect to a book.
Overall, this textbook follows the format of many previous textbooks--it's clear why each choice is made. There are a few periodizations that I found unusual—like westward expansion from 1800-1860 in chapter 11, then westward expansion, 1840-1900 in chapter 17. Given the overlap between the two periods, I’m not exactly sure why the authors decided on those breaks (certainly the issue of free soil versus slavery expansion is a good reason, although there’s much more in chapter 11 than those topics). I do very much appreciate the fact that the American West doesn’t just get confined to a single chapter, which happens in most other textbooks.
Nice “click and explore” elements, like the link to “virtual Jamestown” or the erie canal map, for instance. I’d like to encourage future editions to do even more work at providing links to documents, maps, and other elements that would enliven the text. Why not make the online accessibility of an OER textbook a way to truly standout from other textbooks?
The textbook does well with race throughout. Gender is also dealt with fairly well.
The short selections from primary sources are a nice touch. I’d actually like more of them as a way to break up the big chunks of narrative text.
This US History text is certainly comprehensive. In its 32 chapters all phases of the development of the American nation are addressed. In some cases there are multiple chapters on one era. The period of 1760-1790 is explored in chapters 5, 6... read more
This US History text is certainly comprehensive. In its 32 chapters all phases of the development of the American nation are addressed. In some cases there are multiple chapters on one era. The period of 1760-1790 is explored in chapters 5, 6 and 7. Additionally the ante-bellum period is discussed in chapters 11, 12, 13 and 14. There are a variety of primary sources embedded in the text, as well as maps and other illustrations.
By checking throughout the text, I found no glaring inaccuracies. The discussion of some issues, like the controversy over European's horrific actions in the New World, reflect good scholarship. However, the section on the US and the European Holocaust is assigned to "Further Reading". Also, a discussion of the Fred Korematsu case about Japanese Americans being interned during WW 2, does not get sufficient exposure. Is this inaccuracy? Perhaps this is more about comprehensiveness, but it needs to be addressed.
With any history text, there is always the question of updating after a period of a few years. The nature of this text would be easily updated with an addenda that addressed recent events. The very nature of an OpenStax source like "US History" allows for reworking of the basic text either by an individual teacher, or if needed, by the original authors/editor.
This is an eminently readable text. After many years (over 40) of reading history texts and teaching from them at both the secondary and college levels, I found this book both accessible and clear. There are not overly long sentences or awkward descriptions that tend to numb the attention of the reader.
Despite the fact that multiple authors are listed as contributors to this text, there is a consistency throughout the text regarding its framework. The use of primary sources, which are embedded into the text and the questions at the end of each section are very helpful. The summary at the start and finish of chapters are also an excellent feature.
From my perspective this text lends itself to the kind of modularity that I need in my college freshman course. I am not teaching a survey, so it is essential that the book be easily divisible into not only chapters, but in some cases, sub-headings within chapters. In the introduction, this modularity is made clear! "Because our books are openly licensed, you are free to use the entire book or pick and choose the sections that are most relevant to the needs of your course. Feel free to remix the content by assigning your students certain chapters and sections in your syllabus, in the order that you prefer. You can even provide a direct link in your syllabus to the sections in the web view of your book. Instructors also have the option of creating a customized version of their OpenStax book. The custom version can be made available to students in low-cost print or digital form through their campus bookstore. Visit your book page on OpenStax.org for more information.
This text is well organized. Moreover, considering its modularity, it allows any instructor to create their own structure. If an instructor wants to consider a theme like human rights - philosophy, development, legalization and abuses of those rights in the American story- they can do this with ease. The inclusion of so many "extras", like links to sources, puts students at a distinct advantage. The richness of this text far surpasses other US History texts I have used in the past.
My review of this text indicates that there are no significant issues with navigating its various features such as maps, photos, and relevant primary sources. In fact, the links embedded in the online version make exploring primary sources both easy and convenient. The location of maps, charts, other images or features are appropriately located to increase access and understanding.
Reading through many sections with an eye to error is a common practice of mine after many (47) years of teaching. I am surprised by its grammatical accuracy, which is an important quality when reaching students and hoping to assist them in their own communication skills.
Generally speaking, I am pleasantly surprised by the culturally inclusive nature of this text. For example, there is a good explanation of the US internment of 120,000 Japanese and Japanese Americans starting in 1942. However, there is no solid description of the horrendous war against Philippine Independence which the US waged for close to 14 years (1900-1913). The only reference in the stories of WW 2 to the US refusal to assist Jews fleeing Europe in the 1930s and 1940s is in one source in "Further Reading". For me, that is not sufficient.
Like many other general US History texts for college courses, this text is both sufficient and makes a good effort at representing a wide variety of important and controversial issues Its features make for an adaptable textbook for a particular focus within a course. However, I find certain holes concerning what I would call the darker side of US history, like my mention of the scarce coverage of the Philippine-American War and the rather hidden account of the failure of American government to help rescue those fleeing from Hitler. Despite these "holes", it is a text I would adopt for my freshman level US History course!
This text covers Pre-Colombian U.S. to the 21st Century. It is comprehensive in that it covers not just the major wars or conflicts, but also the industrialization, struggles of indigenous populations, and the development of a nation. This book... read more
This text covers Pre-Colombian U.S. to the 21st Century. It is comprehensive in that it covers not just the major wars or conflicts, but also the industrialization, struggles of indigenous populations, and the development of a nation. This book has both a breadth and depth of information.
This text appears accurate and unbiased. It does describe situations from different viewpoints, including racial, ethnic, and religious populations.
This book definitely has longevity. It might need more chapters added throughout the years, or some edits based on new information about the past, but it appears to have made a strong effort to describe history from other viewpoints and not just the western European viewpoint.
This book is fairly easy to read and written in a way that most students will no problem understanding.
The book is consistent in describing different viewpoints and the historical record. It strives to be culturally competent while imparting important information about historical events.
This book contains 32 chapters, which can be reorganized and allows for a selection of specific chapters as needed. It appears to be very adaptable into modules.
The book is primarily presented in chronological order, which makes the most sense for a history book. The authors do look at several aspects of history, from a social, economic, political, and culture viewpoint, which makes it very interesting. History is a topic that usually taken by students who are history majors or who must take a history general education course. This book contains information that would interest students from several different majors because of the breadth of information.
No major navigation problems, even when clicking links for more information within the chapters. The images and links serve to pique interest rather than distract from the information provided.
The book is well-written and understandable. I did not notice glaring grammar or typographical errors.
One of the strengths of this book is that it attempts to address the viewpoint of different cultures, or at least describe non-European cultures and history. The links provided in the text direct the student to additional information.
I enjoyed reading this book! It reminded me of some historical facts I had forgotten and I was pleased to read about different indigenous populations in a historical context.
It's comprehensive, but the depth of coverage is uneven. There is far more detail on the pre-1945 period than the post-1945 period. In the earlier period, the same years are (rightfully) covered in multiple chapters. In the post-1945 periods,... read more
It's comprehensive, but the depth of coverage is uneven. There is far more detail on the pre-1945 period than the post-1945 period. In the earlier period, the same years are (rightfully) covered in multiple chapters. In the post-1945 periods, whole decades only get half a chapter. With respect to kinds of history, it's very good in giving race and gender sufficient attention.
Generally good. I have some problems with the chronologies in some cases, like running the Progressive Era up to 1920,
It reflects the last twenty or so years of scholarship very well in its inclusiveness. Personally, I don't feel the need to cover presidential elections in this depth, but I understand the decision.
I think it is written well. I worry about students trying to read long blocks of uninterrupted text on their computers, though.
It's not. I mentioned the post-1945 split. Another problem is the tendency to start the early chapters in different years, particularly subjects like the West that begin well before 1877. I know some second half survey classes begin in 1877 and some in 1865, but I've never heard anyone starting in 1870. In a large department where the starting dates need to be clearly defined, this would be a problem.
I never thought about modularity as a thing before, but yes I do think they've done a good job with that. I'd be more likely to extract and mix sections of this text than assign the whole text itself because some parts of this text are just lovely. The 1920s chapter, for instance. The maps are also really, really well-done.
Here I have serious problems. I mentioned dating problems in the early chapters and the speed with which post-1945 decades are dispensed. I'd add a few chapter divisions. Breaking up Populists and Progressives is just never done elsewhere. Limiting the Depression decade to 1932 is also unheard of elsewhere. I really hate the fact that the 1980s and 1990s are crammed into one chapter too. And then, most of the material there is political.
Perhaps the print is a bit small in .pdf, but then again I didn't bother to try to fix it. I might gather more pictures for the later chapters (despite copyright issues) just to break up the text more for students.
I didn't notice any issues.
It's mostly very good. A very nice balance of race, class, gender and more traditional historical issues. This changes though after the 1960s as the more modern organizational ideas are what get passed over in the latter chapters.
As you may have noticed by now, I concentrated exclusively on the post-1877 chapters because that's the period I teach. It should be an absolute no-brainer to break this up into two separate .pdf files because every single university I've ever encountered breaks US history up into two courses broken somewhere in the later half of the nineteenth century. Even if a student wanted to take both halves, there's no assurances that they'd get the same teacher assigning the same open textbook. Save the students the trouble of downloading half a huge file they won't need!!!
The text certainly aspires to be comprehensive with thirty-two chapters moving from the pre-Columbian context to Barack Obama’s second term. For the most part, it compares favorably to the commercial text I’ve been using in my U.S. history survey... read more
The text certainly aspires to be comprehensive with thirty-two chapters moving from the pre-Columbian context to Barack Obama’s second term. For the most part, it compares favorably to the commercial text I’ve been using in my U.S. history survey in recent years. For the 20th century – the area with which I am most familiar – the text seems well-balanced and without glaring omissions. The most important exception to that rule is the chapter on World War II. The section on pre-war neutrality ignores much of the debate over intervention. The discussion of the Pacific War mentions the naval component of that conflict, but barely. It mentions kamikaze (attacks) without explaining what they were. It discusses the atomic bomb missions in detail (down to secondary targets), but merely alludes to the massive conventional bombing campaign. Similarly, there is no mention of the air war against Germany at all. Beyond WWII, elements of the Cold War such as propaganda get short shrift as does the issue of Berlin past the blockade in the late 1940s. The latter seems like a detail but becomes a potential source of confusion when the Berlin Wall shows up (obviously symbolic, but unexplained) at the end of the 1980s.
In the parts of the text that pertained most directly to my area of expertise, I found the text to be generally reliable and accurate on matters of fact. I did find a couple of exceptions: In the section on “The American Dream,” massive retaliation is conflated and confused with Mutual Assured Destruction which, in turn, is wrongly attributed to Eisenhower. In the following chapter, President Kennedy’s health problems are incorrectly attributed to his wartime service. The latter point is trivial, the former easily fixed.
Given its broadly chronological organization and the absence of a particularly strident or controversial perspective, this text should be relatively easy to update. The final chapter is exactly the kind of insta-history that will likely need constant attention.
The text is quite good on this point. The writing is clear and accessible throughout. The text is free from excessive jargon and usually provides a clear definition of unfamiliar terms. For the most part, titles of chapter sections have sensible and self-explanatory titles.
In general, the text is consistently organized in thematic chapters within a general chronology. There is a notable (and odd) exception with the 1960s where the “presidential synthesis” seems to sneak in with John F. Kennedy and Lyndon Johnson. There’s a lot of Hoover in the Depression, too. The reason for those emphases isn’t clear.
The text appears relatively easily divided into reading assignments that could be used in isolation. Frequent subheadings and brief sections should facilitate the process.
The organization is fairly conventional for a survey text of this kind. Nothing seems obviously out of place within the general organization of the text.
I only looked at the e-book, using a desktop PC and a tablet. I had no problems navigating the text or using the various links. Images and other graphics appeared as expected.
Here, too, the text seemed most problem-free. There were no obvious grammatical problems. Typos, too, seem rare. I noticed only a couple: George Percy is misidentified as “Henry” in the section on early Jamestown and West Berlin's Tempelhof Airport is misspelled as “Templehof” in a picture caption of the section dealing with the Berlin Blockade.
I did not find the text insensitive or offensive. Like most other recent texts with which I am familiar, it strives to present a variety of perspectives.
Overall, I was pleasantly surprised by this text. In the right kind of setting, I think it could be a very useful alternative to existing commercial texts. It’s obviously meant for an introductory-level student in search of an overview, not for advanced students focusing on some particular subject or era. On that note, though, I would like to add that the principles behind the selection of “further readings” is anything but clear to me. In the section “World War, Cold War and Prosperity,” there is one volume on the Ruhr Crisis of the 1920s, two popular works on Ronald Reagan, a memoir by a Russian ambassador, six books on World War II, one volume tangentially related to prosperity, a memoir of the Montgomery Bus Boycott and a book on Richard Nixon’s campaign against Helen Gahagan Douglas. If there’s some sort of selection criterion at work here, I am not sure what it is.
This promising textbook would benefit from greater comprehensiveness and greater depth. The book is easily searchable. In considering the text for community college use, at least twenty percent of community college students have disabilities and... read more
This promising textbook would benefit from greater comprehensiveness and greater depth. The book is easily searchable. In considering the text for community college use, at least twenty percent of community college students have disabilities and it would have been wonderful if the authors had incorporated more disability history into the text. Too, the book needs more intellectual history, with fuller coverage of republicanism, for example. More attention to the history of the development of technologies would broaden the appeal of this text to twenty-first century students.
I hope that in subsequent revisions the authors will do more with American isolationism.
This text appears easily updateable.
This text is clearly written, although some word choices (for example, "tripwire") will be unfamiliar to twenty-first century students.
The text is internally consistent.
The modularity will be helpful to those who need small reading units.
The text is clearly organized.
The interface needs improvement for accessibility; the free versions need variable line spacing and enlargeable fonts (features that the free PDF didn't offer).
The book is clearly written.
The text needs greater coverage of people with disabilities as historical actors and more attention to the experiences of members of immigrant groups.
This work, particularly if revised, has the potential to replace many U.S. survey texts. It needs more people; the text seems to offer a bird's eye view of U.S. history. It would be wonderful to have more accounts of individuals whose experiences embody historical movements and moments. The linked resources are well-chosen but marginalize digital divide students.
The textbook is very comprehensive, covering pre-contact to the 21st Century in 32 chapters. The authors provide thorough details in 1052 pages. Providing some additional primary sources into some of the chapters would be great. read more
The textbook is very comprehensive, covering pre-contact to the 21st Century in 32 chapters. The authors provide thorough details in 1052 pages. Providing some additional primary sources into some of the chapters would be great.
The textbook is accurate and unbiased. It is well-balanced and relatively error-free.
Focusing primarily on the last two chapters, the textbook is written in a way that updates might not be easily implemented. I worry that with the constant changes in technology and terminology, the author(s) might have to re-write the final chapters.
The text is clear and presented at a high-school and college level. The key terms in each chapter help with the terminology that some might find challenging. The problem still exists with new terminology that rarely appears in the text.
The text is very consistent. I believe that students will be able to quickly adapt to the textbook's setup.
The text is easily divisible and I like the available navigate bar.
The text is structured well and has a great flow chronologically.
I found no problems with the interface of the text. The hyperlinks used in the text are a great addition.
I could not find grammatical errors in the text.
I believe the text is respectful and inclusive. Again, I worry about the terminology.
This is an excellent OER text for the introductory U.S. History classes at the college or university level and for an upper-level high school U.S. History class. A few more primary sources would not hurt the text.
I am reviewing this text from the viewpoint of a community college survey course, whose students may or may not be at college level writing. This population has certain needs and behaviors that influence the way I'm going to review the text.... read more
I am reviewing this text from the viewpoint of a community college survey course, whose students may or may not be at college level writing. This population has certain needs and behaviors that influence the way I'm going to review the text. Student requests for an OER text have become overwhelming just in the last year and a half. However, they have made it clear that a good text must have certain things: 1. ease of navigation. If they have to scroll, they won't use it. 2. It must be "used." That means assignments, quizzes, or tests must cause them to open the text and refer to certain parts while taking or preparing for the assignment/quiz/test. 3. Students will generally not use the text on their own motivation to come prepared for class. 4. It needs to be interesting. Students would rather spend 3 hours Google searching rather than just 15 minutes reading a boring text. About this text's comprehensiveness: It is a very traditional text modeled on many editions that I have sitting on my shelves. Its focus is very clearly on Europe and the "lower 48." Therefore, America's role in the 19th century westernizing of Japan, conquest of the Hawaiian islands, or any mention of the international grab for imperial dominance around the Pacific is/are missing. If an instructor wishes to expand the horizons of the class, this text will not be sufficient. On the other hand, that's an opportunity to have students reach further abroad for sources instead of just one textbook. Is the text comprehensive enough to be useful? Yes, with some caveats that include a limited number of primary sources, a tight focus on the lower 48 and a lack of a global viewpoint. That doesn't mean its a poor book, it's just on the instructor to know what supplementation they'll need. The "click and Explore" function in each section is worth mentioning. If an instructor sets this up right, these can be very useful class or group projects. I liked exploring them, but not enough for them to be self-motivating.
I didn't find the same degree of inaccuracy that other reviewers refer to. I find it - appropriate to the student population I deal with - reasonably accurate, error-free, and unbiased.
For this comment I read with interest the last sections of the text which are the most modern. The author(s) present the war on terror matter-of-factly, and do not mention the concerns of privacy and surveillance that have arisen. Since this is an ever-increasing issue, and the current generation of students is entirely focused on their electronic devises, this lack means that the end of the text will become rapidly insufficient.
Baby boomer historians have fallen into an unfortunate trap: they write in a language that the next generation doesn't speak. There is an abundance of language that renders many textbooks inaccessible to students, and this text is no different.
Very consistent. Once students and faculty have become accustomed to what the text has to offer, they are good to go.
The text does in fact divide easily and the navigate bar on the left makes things work very well.
Clear enough; I didn't notice it. The absence of annoyances means it will work adequately for a class.
The interface works well once the reader understands the need for an initial click to enable the sidebar navigation tool.
I didn't find any editing problems that would interfere with student learning.
For this comment I looked specifically at the South before the Civil War and the Civil Rights movements of the 60s sections. These narratives were stock-in-trade so far as I could tell avoiding most insensitivities or offensiveness. the civil rights section focused almost exclusively on the African-American experience. Some mention of the Mexican-American movement was made, but the Amerindian experience is completely missing.
This is basically a traditional text that will need instructor creativity and thoughtfulness to make it into an effective learning experience for students. It does not at all pretend to be global in its perspective. I found the chapter end review questions to be disappointing and any instructor should not rely on these to help students learn. Its navigation is easy to use, once a reader understand the need for the initial button click that enables the left side bar.
This textbook is comprehensive. It covers events from pre-1492 through the last years of President Obama's administration. It looks at social, economic, cultural, political, racial, gender and military history, and it often goes beyond those... read more
This textbook is comprehensive. It covers events from pre-1492 through the last years of President Obama's administration. It looks at social, economic, cultural, political, racial, gender and military history, and it often goes beyond those few categories. It covers topics in more depth than most other history texts. For example, the book spends much more time on the background history leading up until the European conquest of the New World than is common in other textbooks. It has a good index and glossary as well as a good review section at the end of each chapter.
I found no factual inaccuracies in the text. As for interpretation of events, the authors are very thorough in looking at events from many different perspectives. For example, though the authors interpret the Mexican-American War as a war of aggression by the United States, they, nevertheless, include a good discussion of why the United States went to war and even include a discussion of the American claims of the Rio Grande River as the border with Mexico. I have read few other survey texts that include that later information. As with any text, one can quibble with interpretations and with the choices of which information to include and which to exclude. For example, in discussing the reasons for the Japanese surrender in the Second World War, they discussed the dropping of the atomic bomb but did not mention the impact of the Soviet declaration of war on Japan in the final days before the surrender. With interpretation of events, the book overs very little to criticize and much to praise.
The book is fresh but is not faddish. It will have a long shelf-life and can easily be updated should the need arise.
The authors write in a clear style that should be accessible to the average college student.
The book is consistent in its use of terminology.
The authors have a sound division of chapters which will make the book easy to break up into smaller teaching units.
The book is well organized and has a nice flow. The authors usually stick to a chronological approach, but they sometimes step away from that organization and look a a single subject over a longer period of time than is covered in any one chapter.
The authors have many hyperlinks built into their book that will take the reader to much more information than is included in the actual text itself.
The text is well written. William Strunk Jr. would be pleased with the books elements of style.
The text is very inclusive.
This text is a gem. I will use it in all my survey U.S. history classes.
I was most interested in the portions of this text that dealt with events from mid-19th century to the First World War, but I still read through sections bracketing that date range. In its aim to cover the entire sweep of American history from... read more
I was most interested in the portions of this text that dealt with events from mid-19th century to the First World War, but I still read through sections bracketing that date range. In its aim to cover the entire sweep of American history from before European contact to the 21st century, this text is ambitious. So broad a scope, however, pretty much guarantees one of two outcomes -- either the book will be so long and ponderous in its attempt to cover all the worthwhile history that it would be simply too bloated to use; or, it will have to settle for incomplete discussions of major events while completely skipping over relatively minor ones. In the case of this text, the second outcome is clearly the result. It touches on the highlights of U.S. history without ever really engaging in the sort of deep contextual discussion that truly engages with the history it is discussing. That being said, however, this text still serves as an accessible, clearly written introduction to the big picture questions of American history. It will not serve as a detailed examination of particular eras of that history nearly so well.
Speaking specifically of this text's treatment of American westward expansion, the period of frontier conflict with Native Americans, and the latter half of the 19th century, I found it to be highly problematic. In simplest terms, this text's discussion of European American -- Native American conflict is one-dimensional, overly assumptive, prone to bias, and shallow. A student with no other knowledge of American frontier history would likely come away from this book thinking that the conflicts between Indians and whites were always precipitated by white settlers and "militias," a term the text seems particularly fond of using. Quote: "Although the threat of Indian attacks was quite slim and nowhere proportionate to the number of U.S. Army actions directed against them, the occasional attack—often one of retaliation—was enough to fuel the popular fear of the 'savage' Indians. The clashes, when they happened, were indeed brutal, although most of the brutality occurred at the hands of the settlers." Several problems with this sort of writing immediately strike me. First, it is not accurate. A straightforward tally of simple numbers -- the incident rate of Indian depredations vs. army actions -- would lead to a markedly different conclusion (the annual returns of the army departments of the western territories 1866-1890 make this very clear, as do reliable secondary sources such as Robert Utley, Edward Coffman, Peter Cozzens, etc.). Second, it castigates the U.S. Army without ever acknowledging the fact that the army itself was on record as frequently stating that settler fears of Indian threat were exaggerated and overblown. Third, it makes declarative conclusions on controversial history without ever presenting any source evidence in support of those conclusions. It is, frankly, a far too one-dimensional depiction of a very complex period of American history. In rejecting the European-American biases of older histories of U.S. expansion, it errs on the other side of the coin by resorting to inaccurate over-generalizations. There is a notable lack of balance in this text's handling of this particular history, an assessment which is also supported by the books listed in the "Further Reading" section pertaining to this chapter -- the cited texts are mostly of a particular slant. There are some excellent compendiums of primary source materials which would offer students a chance to gain both historical context and personal insight into the events discussed so summarily in this text, some of which would actually support the textbook's conclusions but provide ample historical evidence in the process.
As history, the material is written in language that will probably not be outdated anytime soon. The perspectives are, for the most part, worded in such a way that they will not fall out of scholarly fashion in the next few years. Organized as the text is, any changes or additions to the material would probably be very easy to implement.
The narrative here is extremely accessible, not needlessly academic in tone, language, or style, and easy to follow. I would say that this makes it a very good text for first or second year college history students. At the same time, there were sections where I felt the writing was almost too simplistic. Not a problem of dumbing-down, by any means, but neither was there much depth or challenge in it. Ideally, a history text should be accessible enough to allow students to engage with its material, but also written so as to challenge their preconceptions (if they have any), stimulate their analytical thinking, and encourage further exploration. This text, I feel, fails on the first point, is not sufficiently robust to meet the second point, but does have the potential to achieve the third point.
I found the writing, organization, and presentation of the text to be very consistent throughout the book.
Very easy to navigate, with sections and sub-sections all clearly delineated and easily found. Starting with the table of contents, the organization of the text made it very simple to move through the entire book without disorientation.
As is true of most history books, this text is laid out in chronological order, with the events of one chapter leading to those in the next. While this is a time-proven method that is undeniably user-friendly and good for students who may not yet be ready for more complicated scholarly writing, it does leave me feeling that it is a little too simplistic for detailed examinations of the subject or for analytical discussion.
I did not find any navigation problems at all. All images were clear.
There were no grammatical errors of any kind that I noticed. The writing style itself was perhaps far too passive-voiced, but that's an entirely different matter.
If there is a fault with this text in this particular area of assessment, it is that it is so determined to be culturally sensitive and inoffensive to the traditionally maligned / marginalized / mistreated groups (Native American peoples, in particular) that it swings too far to the other extreme and has a tendency to make broad, sweeping generalizations about white American society that are themselves far too broad to ever be completely accurate. Castigating an entire race or ethnicity without citing specifics is always problematic, no matter which race or ethnic group is being painted with the broad brush. That being said, I think the text does a good job of trying to include elements of the stories of almost all quarters of American society in the eras it discusses. The problem is that its approach is too one-dimensional and overly broad to allow for real discussion of these different perspectives.
I think this text would be particularly useful for an introductory course in American history that is geared toward first or second year students. It is not deep enough, nor intellectually robust enough, to serve as a text for more advanced studies of American history.
The US History text is organized into 32 chapters that adequately present an outline of American history from pre-contact to 2014. The book is also easily adaptable to the two US History survey structure most colleges and universities follow.... read more
The US History text is organized into 32 chapters that adequately present an outline of American history from pre-contact to 2014. The book is also easily adaptable to the two US History survey structure most colleges and universities follow. While no two instructors will agree on the level of detail aspects of US history should receive, this text does to a nice job of presenting a useful narrative supported by ancillaries that include: brief chapter timelines, sidebars (Americana, Defining America, and My Story), images, maps, web links, section-level objectives (that correspond to lower level of Bloom’s Taxonomy), bold-faced key terms, section summaries, and objective and essay review questions. The appendices include: The Declaration of Independence, The US Constitution, Presidents of the US, a political and topographical map, a population chart, and a list of suggested readings. In all, the appendices offer significantly less than many traditional US History textbooks provide. The text also includes a glossary with hyper-links to the terms’ mention in the text. The glossary is, however, significantly less robust than many other textbooks provide.
The text reflects a middle-of-the-road contemporary interpretation of US history. I did not see any glaring factual errors in the text (nor would I expect to). I think that people can argue about the balance and emphasis of any text, but I thought overall this book is balanced. Having said that, in places I did question the emphasis of certain aspects of the interpretation. For example, in discussing the home front during World War I, a lot of space is devoted to discussing those who opposed the draft and the ramification of doing so, while little was mentioned of the overwhelming support of the war illustrated by a general compliance to the selective service act (and other factors).
This book is current as of 2014. Like any history text that runs up to contemporary times, the last chapter of the book will need to be continually updated.
I thought the writing in the text is one of the strong points. Although the writing is broken up by ancillaries, headings, and subheadings an engaging narrative still drives the book. The book is easy to follow and has a nice flow to it. The text is written at what appears to me to be a higher reading level than the book I am currently using (Faragher, OUT OF MANY – Brief edition). Because I teach in an open-enrollment community college environment, this might present challenges for me and others teaching in a similar environment.
I did not note any changes in writing styles of significant variations in chapter length (although like all textbooks, some chapters are a bit longer than others). I also thought that the ancillaries brought a consistency to the text from chapter to chapter.
I do think that the authors do a nice job providing context where needed to allow students to pick up in 1877 and make sense of the content. Further, many of the chapters or sections can stand on their own if an instructor wanted to assign parts and pieces of the text. I did notice that this books appears dense in places and there are multiple examples of pages of text not broken up by images or interactives. In this sense, my current text does a nice better job of providing a presentation that is not intimidating for students.
For the most part the text is logically organized and well suited to work for institutions that split the US survey in 1877. The first 16 chapters run from pre-contact to Reconstruction, while the remaining 16 chapters run from 1877 to 2014. If your course is split in 1865, as it currently is at my institution, the chapter organization presents a problem with 15 chapters in the first half of the survey and 17 in the second half. If we adopt this book, we will likely adjust our survey courses so they splint in 1877. At the chapter level, the content is organized into the 32 chapters in a logical fashion for the most part. There are, however, some curiosities. The most puzzling to me is the treatment of Manifest Destiny. While the text does discuss 1840s expansion in chapter 11: “A Nation on the Move: Westward Expansion, 1800-1850,” nowhere in that chapter is the term Manifest Destiny introduced even though it was coined in connection with a debate to annex Texas in 1845 (which is addressed). Later in chapter 17: “Go West Young Man! Westward Expansion, 1840-1900,” the term Manifest Destiny is introduced and rightly – although briefly – associated with the acquisition of Texas. The issue is that this mention comes in a chapter that falls in the second half of the course and not associated in the section of the course that covers the 1840s (a period more commonly associated with the concept of Manifest Destiny in US history). Further, students using the index to search for “Manifest Destiny” are taken to Chapter 17, and not chapter 14. Additional aspects of the organization that I question include: separating out the Revolutionary War into a separate chapter from the larger Revolution, and dividing the treatment of the Great Depression into a chapter focusing on the Hoover administration and one focusing on Roosevelt’s New Deal. The organization within chapters is driven by well-designed sections and subsections and will, in my opinion, serve students well. I did think it is odd, however, that the chapters have introductions that sit before and outside of the chapter sections, but no conclusions.
By far the most disappointing aspect of this text is the interface. Students can view the text online, as a PDF, or download an iBook for a minor charge. I reviewed the interface in all three versions of the text and feel that the iBook version offers the best user experience, but one that still falls below basic expectations. Here are a couple of frustrations: • Key Terms: while the iBook offers pop-up definitions to bold-face key terms, the PDF and online version do not. To find the pull-out definition in these other formats, students must scroll to the end of the chapter. • Images and Maps: More disappointing are the images, cartoons, and maps. In most cases the images are too small to see important details. In the online and PDF versions of the text, they cannot be expanded. In the iBook version students can click to expand the images by 50% - but it only stretches the image and makes it less legible. While the authors have selected useful political cartoons, the images are reproduced in such a way that make it impossible to students to read the text to fully understand the messages. Two of many examples of this short coming are: figure 11.19 (page 328) and figure 12.18 (page 363). An example of a map that cannot be read at all, see figure 23.16 (page 682). • Look and Feel: The look and feel of this text is bland and will not compare well to other fee-based print or online textbooks. Further, it may feel dated and clunky to our students who are often times use to slick, interactive interfaces in other aspects of their lives. • Interactives: Beyond the chapter review questions (of which only ½ have answers), and the option to be launched into content-related web sites, there is no interactivity in this text. On the positive side, students are able to highlight section of text in both the PDF and iBook version of the text. Additionally, the iBook version offers its standard functionality that allows readers to create note cards.
I did not notice any grammatical issues.
This text does a nice job of reflecting a relatively current and inclusive interpretation of US history. In all places where I expected to see inclusive discussions, I found them.
I think that the cost saving students will realize with this book are significant and clearly the most compelling reason to adopt this text. Doing so, however, brings some draw backs and perhaps challenges for our students.
The coverage of this textbook is very comprehensive. The 32 chapters are very similar to many other textbooks which are commercially available, and they are well suited for two-semester and three-term surveys of US history. Especially in the... read more
The coverage of this textbook is very comprehensive. The 32 chapters are very similar to many other textbooks which are commercially available, and they are well suited for two-semester and three-term surveys of US history. Especially in the opening chapters, the textbook also provides a helpful global perspective on the developments and factors influencing the conquest and the settlement of the Americas as well as the American Indian cultures and societies already in existence. The wide-angle lens of this narrative does a fine job in terms of contextualizing especially early American history, but the textbook very ably and comprehensively covers later historical eras as well.
The textbook provides an accurate and rather well-balanced portrayal of US history. This attempt to objectively reflect American history comes through in a few ways. For one, the portrayal of post-World War II and especially also post-1960s movements is presented in a fair and even-handed manner. In addition, the many opportunities to dig deeper in sections such as "Click and Explore" or "Americana" highlight various angles and perspectives on important historical events and developments.
The authors of the textbook make a concerted effort to connect historical events and developments from the past with current-day concerns and controversies. Thus, a section on "environmental changes" is seamlessly inserted in early colonial history (Chapter 3) and the controversies surrounding slavery are connected to developments in colonial consumer society (Chapter 4). The document selections also do a valiant job in terms of connecting past and present in similar ways. More such synthesis segments might further enhance the overall strength of this textbook.
The writing is very accessible and clear. There are few overly long sentences, and the use of language and terminology seems well within the range of most undergraduate students. Every chapter in addition concludes with a section of key terms which will help to identify and explain some of the most important concepts and the most challenging terminology. A section of review questions at the end of each chapter allows students to instantly check their understanding of the most important material covered in the respective chapters.
As in most textbooks, some chapters are clearly stronger and more in-depth than others, which is often dependent on the areas of specialties of the authors. This textbook is no exception to this general rule. For example, issues of gender and race are covered more comprehensive in the chapters surrounding the American Revolution (Chapters 5 & 6) than in the chapters leading up to the Civil War. Also, while many chapters are thematically centered, some topics in modern US history, such as the Vietnam War, is interspersed over several chapters (Chapters 28-30). While certainly defensible in its approach, this might provide somewhat of a challenge for many lower-level undergraduate students. But in general, the chapters are dealt with in a very even-handed and consistent manner.
The division of the chapters and sub-headings is very clear and appropriately handled. In addition, as mentioned earlier, the number of chapters and sub-divisions will align very well and smoothly with most survey courses. Chapters 1-16 cover the first half of the survey up through the Civil War and Reconstruction Era. The second 16 chapters move all the way up to the election and presidency of Barack Obama (up until 2014). I think the book is also rather effective in concisely covering postwar US history in seven clearly written chapters. If one were to follow this textbook outline, chances of reaching the 21st century would greatly increase, which is something most instructors (including yours truly) struggle to accomplish.
The textbook is very clearly and effectively organized, and central topics are clearly identified in the headings as well as the sub-headings of each chapter. I think that the textbook also clearly identifies specific watersheds, such as the years 1774/75 in terms of the lead-up to the American Revolution (Chapters 5 & 6). In addition, especially the antebellum chapters are thematically divided in a clear manner. which seems appropriate especially for such topics as the beginning of the Industrial Revolution and the reform movements of the early 19th century (Chapters 9-13).
The interface works very smoothly and effectively. The hyperlinks in particular allow for quick detours and explorations, which lend themselves either for in-class discussions, homework assignments or starting points for small research projects. I think this online version and the ease of clicking and connecting to bonafide websites and historical information might further encourage students to distinguish more clearly between useful and less useful internet sources.
The textbook is very well written. I have to admit that I did not read every word of it, but I did not detect grammatical errors in the sections which I read or surveyed.
The textbook makes a very valiant effort to be culturally relevant. There are no offensive or culturally insensitive segments which I noticed. It does use the term "American Indian" rather than "Native American", which might deter some instructors from using it, but the authors also provide a very well-reasoned rationale for the choice. In addition, similar to most textbooks, women, American Indians and other racial minorities are highlighted in specific chapters, but this coverage is not carried through for all chapters in an even manner (which is admittedly very difficult to accomplish). I think the textbook deserves relatively high marks in terms of cultural relevance.
This is a very strong textbook overall and certainly can compete with those that are commercially available. The ease and frequency of the "Click & Explore" and the "Americana" sections as well as the documents inserted between sub-headings provide ample opportunities for additional study and exploration. I also think that the condensed post-World War II chapters provide a helpful road map for instructors who attempt to reach more recent decades of American history in their survey classes--and maybe even venture into the 21st century of US history by the end of the final course.
At 1052 pages, "U.S. History" is nothing if not comprehensive. Maybe comprehensive to a fault. Although it fulfills its duty as a history textbook by including fairly detailed recountings of events (with some exceptions to come), the editors are... read more
At 1052 pages, "U.S. History" is nothing if not comprehensive. Maybe comprehensive to a fault. Although it fulfills its duty as a history textbook by including fairly detailed recountings of events (with some exceptions to come), the editors are guilty of including large chunks of information in the precolonial and colonial eras that are tangential at best to the story of U.S. History. One example is the entirety of Chapter 2. It’s called “Early Globalization in the Atlantic World,” but it’s not. The entire chapter is largely background information on contemporary European political and cultural history in order to give us context for when we later read about what was happening in the Americas.
There were some glaring inaccuracies, mostly concentrating in the section on “West Africa and the Role of Slavery.” The text mentions that “West Africa . . . was linked to the rise and diffusion of Islam.” This statement is wildly vague and inaccurate. How can a region be "linked" to a religion that doesn’t reach it until the 8th Century? Are the editors not aware of the rise of the pre-Islamic Nok civilizations and their terra cotta figures and ironworking? The state of Ghana likewise exploited the gold-for-salt trade using Berber and Tuareg intermediaries before Islam had made it to West Africa. And what of the powerful non-Muslim states of West Central Africa, Kongo and Angola? Do they not merit a mention? A few sentences down, the text claims “Until about 600 CE, most Africans were hunter-gatherers.” This sentence was actually flabbergasting. The Agricultural Revolution hit West Africa at least as early as the second millennium B.C.E., and the Bantu peoples began their spread from Cameroon to over the entirety of southern Africa -- bringing agriculture and iron-working technology -- soon after, eventually replacing the hunter-gatherer culture of southern Khoisan speakers. There were large groups of people who were hunter-gatherers in 600 CE to be sure, as there large groups of pastoralists, but this sentence seriously decontextualizes the actual on-the-ground reality. There are more. In the very same paragraph, to say that “Sub-Saharan Africans had little experience in maritime matters. Most of the population lived away from the coast, which is connected to the interior by five main rivers” robs the teacher of the chance to teach students about the Liberian-area Kru people, who ferried African American colonists back and forth from the coasts because their ships couldn’t face the rocky shore. And this would be a direct tie-in to American history. Of course there were hundreds of groups who lived near the ocean, but there was never economic or population-pressure motivation to explore transoceanic exploration. Suffice it to say, the research on this section left quite a bit to be desired and is in need of a general rewrite. I would say that this is one of the book’s more immediate concerns. The following section on African slavery, however, is excellent, particularly the connection between the construction of race with slavery. Although a section on parallel social institutions among Amerindian groups and on serfdom in Europe in this chapter would give the chapter more overall thematic balance. Much as the text gives too much primacy to the role of Islam in the construction of political and cultural cohesion in West Africa, it gives too little credit to Muslim culture in the contribution it made to European culture, particularly the Renaissance, in its treatment of the events in sections 2.1 and later in the flowering of the Enlightenment in section 4.4. It ignores how the Moors brought algebra and Greek and Roman philosophy back to Europe, which led to the Enlightenment. This is inaccurate in that it gives students a warped view of the role Islamic culture has played in American culture. The text calls the Dutch Republic “Holland” on page 50. Holland was but one province in the Netherlands, although people of the time called the Dutch Republic “Holland” in the same way some people think Manhattan is “New York City.” I was very impressed that the book gave the definition of the word “slave” on page 15. That is a rarely mentioned but important history.
The text is largely up-to-date, using the most accurate terminology for its historical referents. It uses the word “tribe” rather carelessly,(p. 16) though, without going into the history of that term, given that it was used by European anthropologists to (often inaccurately) classify and compartmentalize the ethnic groups they encountered in Africa and the Americas. A more useful term for classification would be “ethnic group.”
The wording of the text is clear, and achieves a not-unreasonable level of grammatical and syntactical complexity for college students.
The framework and terminology are consistent.
The modularity is fine, but the section titles are more confusing than helpful. It would be preferable to have section titles that use terms students will be familiar with. Rather than titling chapters “Religious Upheavals in the Developing Atlantic World,” title it “Protestant Reformation and Catholicism.” Instead of “The United States Goes Back to War,” use “The War of 1812.” That way when students are looking for a topic they want to find in the Table of Contents, they’ll be able to navigate it faster.
The organization of the first four chapters is inexhaustingly Eurocentric. Pages 34 - 39 and 42 - 46 are completely out of place in a U.S. history book, for instance. All of the information on those pages can be explained with quick in-text references in the sections that really have to do with America rather than long paragraphs in their own section. Chapter 4 on the British Empire is completely unnecessary. This is definitely a way the text can cut down on its word count. The chapter just seems like an excuse to tell European history. All that needs to be said in a U.S. history book about that period is covered in Chapter 3, which, by the way, is excellent, particularly the attention given to St. Augustine, Santa Fe, and Bacon’s Rebellion. The text sings when focusing on regional histories. The section on New France is extraneous, however. The breaking up of the 1960s Countercultural Movement into two eras seems to rob the moment of its full contextual impact. The political issues from, say, p. 866 “Kennedy the Cold Warrior” directly led to the social upheavals covered right up to page 903, the beginning of Nixon’s story. That period represented a significant break with previous notions of American identity and should have its own chapter with a distinctive thematic focus. There were great delights. I loved the inclusion of a section on transcendentalism and was pleasantly surprised to see a section on the flowering of antebellum Utopian communities.
On the online version, there should be page numbers. The only way to refer a student to a particular sentence is by section number, and those are too long. If going over a passage in class, it will take too long for everybody to find it. In the pdf version, the table contents have hyperlinks that take you right to the section, but there’s no way to go back to the Table of Contents from the different section. This will cause a delay, particularly if a student goes to the wrong section, they can’t go right back up to the Table of Contents. There should be a way back.
The text contains this sentence on page 20: “In 1054, the eastern branch of Christianity, led by the Patriarch of Constantinople (a title that because roughly equivalent to the western Church’s pope), established its center in Constantinople and adopted the Greek language for its services.” I think the word “was” was supposed to go there instead of the word “because.”
Rather than devoting so much of Chapter 2 to European history, there were relevant things happening in the Americas that the editor could have chosen to include. What about the legendary battles between maroon/Carib confederations against both the French and the British on Saint Vincent and Dominica? What about Spanish and Portuguese encounters with Arawaks and Caribs in the Lesser Antilles and the construction of racial characteristics amongst these ethnic groups? These are events that had actual cultural impact in Americas, as those populations directly comprised the American cultural mosaic. In Chapter 1, black and brown leaders are consistently left out of the narrative. In the one sentence discussing the inheritors of the gold-for-salt trade, the Songhay, where is the mention of Askia Muhammad Toure, who founded it, or Sunni Ali Ber, who led its hostile takeover? What of Amerindian heroes like Tupac Yupanqui, Pachacuti, or Montezuma? Do they not merit a mention? And, not unimportantly, why is it that only European leaders get honorifics? The text makes the effort the mention that Richard was named the “the Lionheart,” Charles Martel “the Hammer,” and Henry “the Navigator.” More information on Songhay or the Kongo would have allowed for mention of Askiya the Great or Affonso the Great. Black and brown leaders have cool nicknames, too. This is exactly why we see so many studies of black and brown children in America who don’t feel they have role models. We force feed them navigators and hammers with whom they have trouble identifying. Eurocentrism is about seeing the world from one perspective, and ignoring the possibility that your reader does not share it. Opening up a section with a sentence like “The year 622 brought a new challenge to Christendom” (page 29) immediately puts “Christendom” in the role of protagonist and Islam in the role of antagonist. As if it were Islam’s mission to destroy Christianity. The text does not explore at all Muhammad’s attempts to bring his vision to both Jewish and Christian leaders in Mecca, that he wanted to unify the faiths. The text is largely graphic in its depictions of horrors on both sides of the Crusades, but it continues an ugly narrative in American society that Islam is a force to be conquered by Christians.
Please address the issues on African and Amerindian history and I will be happy to re-review!
Very comprehensive in scope and coverage. If possible, I would like to see a few more primary sources. However, perhaps they could be located in an appendix as the flow is strong "as is." read more
Very comprehensive in scope and coverage. If possible, I would like to see a few more primary sources. However, perhaps they could be located in an appendix as the flow is strong "as is."
The content is accurate. There are no errors found in the text. The text is unbiased. Organizationally, it does not favor an overtly political, diplomatic, social, or cultural approach, which in turn might lend to bias. Instead, it is a nice blending of approaches.
It is a history book and therefore will stand a longer test of time. Any relevant changes should be easy to make. I will comment on the images elsewhere. Fur purposes of evaluating longevity however, I will note that the historical images are sharp or crisp in appearance. By largely staying away from photos, these will stand the test of time. A few contemporary photos were used in the early chapters, but they are not many in number and should not look dated. In any case, they could be easily replaced. Thus, as far as images were concerned, I found the selections strong and ones that look sharp in a contemporary setting. Second, I thought the authors did a masterful job of including hooks to current or contemporary cultural references that were embedded in the materials of the past. This inclusion piqued my curiosity as a reader and will provide an number of great avenues of discovery and discussion for student readers.
The clarity was solid throughout. IT was not overly filled with jargon. Paragraph structures were the appropriate length, While on the subject of clarity, I want to underscore my appreciation for the clarity associated with the labeling of the images. They were not only neat in appearance, but also including the appropriate materials (in a succinct manner) to allow student to practice historical sourcing as a skill.
There were no issues in this area. I have more to say under the theme of modularity which I see as a great strength of the book.
If I could, I would give this a five plus rating!! I found this to be a very pleasing aspect of the open source platform. Without worry of page number or length impacting printing prices, the authors were able to assemble a great number of chapters, or at least a greater number of sub-themes within the chapters. Three examples stand out: the Crusades, greater coverage of Africa, and deeper coverage of the European Reformation; all of these allowed greater depth to the historical story, with the option of covering them on the assigned readings, or not, without missing the flow. Likewise, within the chapters, the modularity was a strength, allowing a fluent reading experience between themes. It appears the book is driven by theme or key vocabulary concepts as opposed the "the great individual" in history approach. As stated under the bias theme, this means it does not come across favoring any one approach to hisoty.
All topics were logical. The flow was sound, I appreciated the opening hook and the lead prompts or questions under the sub-chapter sections.
I was very impressed with the interface of the text. Approaching this review, I was skeptical, or though one of the main things I like about texts, the infusion of images, might be lost in an open source platform. This was not the case. I came away very impressed with the interface. The paragraphs were embedded with images, or use of primary sources. This kept the flow of the chapters lively and provides many opportunity to go into a deeper discussion of the images or primary sources in relation to the context of the material covered.
I did not find any issues with the grammar.
This was generally good. With the vast use of images, the authors may consider using a bit more cultural diversity over the last half of the text.
Entering with an open mind, though somewhat skeptical of open source as a platform, I came away very impressed. The modularity and interface of the text were definite strengths. The material is solid, but definitely enhanced with the use of images, embedded primary sources, and links to additional open source materials. This will allow the students opportunity to gain coverage of materials, while also providing the opportunity for the flipped classroom in that great discussions can take place surrounding the images and primary documents, including the opportunity to practice historical thinking skills of sourcing and contextualization. Along these lines, I want to applaud the authors for the use of lead images to introduce each chapter. This was something I thought would e lost on an open source platform. Instead, as I was reviewing, I could not wait to get to the next chapter to see what the authors included as the image-hook-historical context opening. Well done, creative, and I would love to use in the classroom!
NOTE: My comments apply ONLY to the post-1865 chapters (16-32). I'd judge this book's comprehensiveness to be about average or a little better. The chapters prior cover the material prior to the 1960s (chapter 29) are more comprehensive than those... read more
NOTE: My comments apply ONLY to the post-1865 chapters (16-32). I'd judge this book's comprehensiveness to be about average or a little better. The chapters prior cover the material prior to the 1960s (chapter 29) are more comprehensive than those that follow. The chapters before 1930 (16-25) are the most comprehensive.
I found no errors in the material. In my view, the book could have used a more critical viewpoint; it's "bias" as primarily a kind of uncritical blandness. Otherwise, I saw no consistent viewpoint across the chapters. The viewpoints across some of the chapter sections seemed to vary quite a bit.
I thought the book was about 10-15 years behind the times in terms of terminology. For instance, there was no serious discussions of "whiteness" or "settler colonialism" or even the intellectual history of race that would have helped to conceptualize and unify some of the material. The material is fairly modular (perhaps to a fault -- it seems fragmented in places), so it shouldn't be too difficult to add these sorts of conceptual tools with minimal editing.
Jargon-less to a fault: lacks the kinds of conceptual tools that might challenge students to engage more deeply and critically with the material (see above). Very accessible language, but also very bland overall (this varied quite a bit). This book is unlikely to inspire anyone to become more interested in history, but it is also unlikely that many students will misunderstand the textbook's intended meanings.
With rather little terminology or framework, one could call this textbook consistent. The "side bars" did not add significant thematic consistency. In general, the textbook navigated a middle road, the most consistent focus on political, military, economic/business, and diplomatic subfields across chapters.
In my opinion, this was a weakness in this textbook. I understand that modularity is important for this textbook format, but it works against narrative and critical/analytical consistency, and in this case, also results in an inconsistency in the authorial voice. Yes, it would be relatively easy to add new sections without major disturbances in the existing flow of the text. Is that a good thing in a narrative presentation? Doesn't this suggest that any new sections had little significant impact or importance?
The chapters prior to WW1 (chapters 16-22) are organized thematically across broad, overlapping periods, while those that follow (23-32) are arranged in a stricter chronological order. The post-1945 chapters (chapters 28-32) tend to cover longer periods of time (15-20 years). The organization seems to have an implicit argument that the last 100 years (and certainly the last ~50 years) are less well understood or important than the last half of the 19th and early 20th centuries. That said, this one does not seem too far out of the standard range among US history textbooks.
These seemed to be about standard quality. These "side bars" generally were well written and worthwhile, but more seemed like "spice" rather than "nourishment."
The only major grammar problem in the text is the use of the passive voice, which is noteworthy in some sections. Given my emphasis on causation and action in student writing, this is a problem for me. Some sections would seem to encourage a kind of vague, "zeitgeist" thinking that seems more appropriate to entertainment venues (e.g., the History Channel) as opposed to an academic textbook. I noticed the repeated use of the word "spirit" (e.g., "the progressive spirit").
I found nothing that was identifiably offensive, but there was a notable turn away from critically examining the reproduction of long-term inequalities. Thus, racism was primarily caused by "racists" rather than everyday embedded racial ideals, presumptions, bad science, or unrecognized "special privileges." There is no critique of modernity nor a serious challenge to "Western Civilization." Likewise, there was no critical examination of the inequalities generated by capitalism, aside from a few bad actors. Even when examining the Gilded Age, the textbook repeated the long-outdated "debate" about the virtues of the Robber Barons. No conservative K-12 school board would be offended by this textbook.
As you may have detected if you have read this far, I am not a fan of US textbooks. That said, I am a big fan of Eric Foner's textbook, particularly in its least-expensive form. No, by no means is it perfect, but my students consistently rate it highly, and it avoids most of the flaws of the genre. In my experience, standard US history textbooks do little to challenge the patriotic, "glorious past" propaganda that is pushed on our K-12 students. Historical thinking and critique tend to be episodic and anecdotal -- although inequalities seem to "reappear" in textbook narratives, there is rarely any sense that inequality is systematic or structural. US history textbooks are more likely to damage any enthusiasm students display in understanding US history than to nurture it. This general description of US history textbooks fits this particular textbook quite well. It seems to be "standard" in every way, with its primary distinction being its blandness. As I mentioned before, this textbook is very unlikely to win new converts to historical thinking, though it will likely satisfy the History Channel enthusiasts. The supposed virtue of open source textbooks at this historical moment seems to be price, and I have strong sympathies with attempts to reduce the outrageous costs that students in the US must pay for higher education. However, this textbook does little to challenge unexamined, "commonsense" assumptions about the US past that could as easily be acquired (and affirmed) from television programming or Hollywood. We have to do better than this. Otherwise, the ~$50 price for Foner's textbook is a far better choice.
The textbook is quite comprehensive in covering key ares and ideas. For example, I was quite impressed with the well written and broad details concerning "John Winthrop and the Puritans" in Chapter 3 and with "The New Nixon," "The Domestic... read more
The textbook is quite comprehensive in covering key ares and ideas. For example, I was quite impressed with the well written and broad details concerning "John Winthrop and the Puritans" in Chapter 3 and with "The New Nixon," "The Domestic Nixon," and "Nixon the Diplomat" in Chapter 30. When I first began reading the textbook I felt there was was too much interruption and space given to the illustrations, maps, charts, and first person narratives (as engaging and colorful as they are) at the expense of narrative flow and needed textual content but by the second chapter I realized how well written and to the point the test is. I did feel that the extent given to the My Lai massacre during the Vietnam War was excessive (I served during this period). With that aside, because of this excellent focus the content does give sufficient depth to the issues and events in relatively short textual spaces.
I am also impressed with the accuracy of the information given. Only in a few areas do I feel the content on certain subjects to be too simplistic or indeed somewhat inaccurate. To be specific, in Chapter 1, "The Maya," the fall of the Classic Maya by 900 C.E. is far more complex than simply to say, "Because of poor soil and a drought that lasted nearly two centuries their civilization declined . . . and they abandoned their large population centers." A major increase in endemic, continuous warfare, raids by non-Mayan peoples, an urban population too large to be sustained by their agriculture, and the loss of faith in their rulers and the ceremonies centered in these urban ceremonial centers were also key factors in the decline. I also feel the reasons given for using the atomic bombs in WWII, especially why a second bomb was dropped to be missing key factors and far too abbreviated. Otherwise, however, i give this textbook high marks for accuracy and depth.
The content is quite up to date and relevant. The treatment of the rise of the conservative movement politically is outstanding in both its relevancy to today and in its depth of detail. In particular I praise in Chapter 31 the sections on "Creating a Conservative Policy" and "Conservative Christians and Family Values." I did not see where the textbook would be out of date anytime soon. The last chapter is excellent in bring us up to the last few years of history.
This textbook is exceptionally well written and to the point. As I shared earlier, at first I thought that the text was too often broken up by the maps, pictures, and first person sections but soon came to realize that the authors do zero in well on the key information needing to be shared in a wonderfully engaging writing styles. For example, the labor systems used in early New Spain is so well written, as is the material on Anne Hutchinson and the early Puritans.
The text is consistent in spite of the multiple authors (which is surprising) Whoever had some editorial input did an outstanding job blending the no doubt different writing styles into a coherent, engaging, and always to the point brevity. I am particularly impressed with the Civil War narrative in its consistency, and all through the book the repeated framework works well.
The division of the chapters into sections, readings, maps, illustrations, first person accounts, review questions, glossaries, critical thinking questions, on line sources all worked very well. Yes, such modularity does lend itself to easy reorganization to better fit individualized teaching methods, highlighting key sections, and an overall variety that I believe would be very engaging to students.
At first I felt the many different section breaks, especially the extensive maps and pictures/illustrations, caused too much interruption of the narrative reading flow. By the second chapter, however, I became aware of how well written the text was and how well chosen, perfectly paired, and visually attractive were the illustrations and maps (the color alone added to the engagement). By the the third chapter I was even more impressed with the organization and flow and that view remained throughout the rest of the textbook reading. Your choices of illustrations, maps, charts, and pictures are outstanding. The "Colombian Exchange" map and text are examples of impressive and appropriate pairing and reinforcement.
navigation of the interface is straightforward and easy. I did not notice distortion or any issue here that would confuse the reader.
I did not notice problems with grammar. In fact, I am very impressed with the level of writing, particularly its ability to explain rather complex ideas in an engaging, to the point way.
I believe this textbook is culturally sensitive and relevant. It certainly includes many first person accounts of discrimination and intolerance (an example being the attention to our past slavery and to the rounding up of Japanese- Americans at the beginning of WWII) in our history so as to remind us of how far we have come and to be ever more sensitive to equal treatment of peoples.
I am very impressed with this textbook, especially in its engaging use of appropriate and colorful maps and illustrations, its well chosen use of photographs, and, most of all, its well written narrative that I believe will greatly involve the reader in the story telling aspect of what good history is all about. I would highly recommend this book to others!
This book is an acceptable replacement for any U.S. History textbook by a major publisher. To save costs, the publisher used open source material for images. The book is not as polished-looking as a "normal" textbook. However, the quality of the... read more
This book is an acceptable replacement for any U.S. History textbook by a major publisher. To save costs, the publisher used open source material for images. The book is not as polished-looking as a "normal" textbook. However, the quality of the text is high. Full disclosure: I was one of many reviewers who looked at chapters for any possible errors or weaknesses. The quality control procedures of OpenStax matched that of traditional publishers. I have listed this book on my syllabus as suitable for my students in U.S. History.
The textbook has been proofread by many eyes and I can find no errors.
The vast majority of historians regard anything that has happened in the past 20 years as current events. It is not possible to have historical distance on a topic until a generation, at least, has passed. Therefore, I do not regard this question of longevity as relevant to this book.
It is quite readable.
The book has no readability problems at all. It is consistent and easy to digest.
The table of contents matches the pattern of most history courses. Historians typically move chronologically. The chapters are broken into easily digestible parts. I read each chapter in one sitting without any difficulty.
The chapters match the flow of the vast majority of history courses.
The book is fairly straightforward and basic.
I would have a fit if the book contained grammar errors. It has none that I saw.
It is quite inclusive and respectful.
The book is impressively comprehensive. Its 1052 pages include 32 chapters, beginning with the “Americas, Europe, and Africa Before 1492” and ending with the “Challenges of the 21st Century.” The first eight chapters explore colonial America,... read more
The book is impressively comprehensive. Its 1052 pages include 32 chapters, beginning with the “Americas, Europe, and Africa Before 1492” and ending with the “Challenges of the 21st Century.” The first eight chapters explore colonial America, the War for Independence and the formation of a new republic. Chapters 9 through 16 focus on early industrialization, the contrasting economies of the North and South including the divisive impact of slavery, territorial expansion, political reform, and the Civil War and Reconstruction. Chapters 17 through 22 deal with post-Civil War industrialization, westward expansion, Progressivism, and American imperialism. Chapters 23 through 30 continue the narrative through the 20th century with material on World War I, the 1920s, the Depression and the New Deal, World War II, the Cold War, the changing American society and economy from the 1950s to the 1980s, including the struggle for African American civil rights. The final two chapters focus on contemporary history from 1980 to the present.
The book reflects the latest scholarship, blending political, social and economic history very effectively. The authors discuss seminal events, dramatic moments, and hidden histories from every time period in the past. Readers learn about different time periods from the perspectives not only of leaders and elites, but individuals and groups who are often neglected or omitted by more traditional texts. Throughout, the lives and stories of famous and ordinary people are used to reveal the pressures and patterns of life during different time periods.
Given its treatment of seminal events, dramatic moments, and hidden histories, the book is highly relevant to the lives of students and teachers today. Teachers and students can use the book to generate a present-to-past-to-future teaching methodology where contemporary issues are discussed and then explored historically, all to generate opportunities to envision better futures for all people. Teachers and students can also use the book in a more traditional format, moving chronologically from the past to the present.
The book is well written, in an engaging and informative style that should appeal to students and teachers alike. Importantly, the use of interactive web links, primary source excerpts, and photographs and other visual material support the book’s approach without distracting readers from main ideas.
The book has a consistent approach throughout, balancing the larger historical context of key developments and important people with explorations of less-known, but still important events along with the stories of lesser-known historical figures.
The inclusion of 32 separate chapters creates a book that will be read and understood effectively by both students and teachers. Students can read a chapter and follow the historical narrative without becoming overwhelmed in factual detail. Teachers can assign chapters or sections of chapters to complement what they are discussing in class. The size of the book is therefore an advantage because some sections can be explored in more depth using primary sources and other materials while other sections can be read mainly for historical background.
The book has logical organization and an engaging narrative flow. It is easy to navigate and to read. The chapters present the major periods of United States history chronologically. Every chapter title includes dates so readers can follow the flow of events. For example, Chapter 8 dealing with events leading to the War for Independence is entitled “Imperial Reforms and Colonial Protests, 1763-1774.” Similarly, the chapter on the New Deal era is entitled “Franklin Roosevelt and the New Deal, 1932-1941.” Maps, pictures, charts, timelines, primary source readings, and web links are placed in the center of the page, calling the reader’s attention to the information. Figures and Tables are numbered by chapter and linked so readers can move seamlessly to the visual material. The Table of Contents is interactive so clicking on a chapter title immediately brings readers to that chapter in the text.
Every chapter in the PDF and Read Online version of the book has a live web link feature called Click and Explore. This feature takes readers to a website where they can explore a topic in more depth by viewing primary source material, viewing video on the site or accessing other resources. For example, a figure of showing Alexander Graham Bell’s patent of the telephone is followed by a Click and Explore link to “Everyday Mysteries,” a Library of Congress site that lets readers explore competing claims for Bell, Elisha Gray or Antonio Meucci as the phone’s inventor. Most Click and Explore links take readers to sites maintained by government agencies, museums, historical organizations, libraries, and news network sites (“Tocqueville C-Span: Retracing the Steps of Alexis de Tocqueville’s 1831 Journey” is one such example). Occasionally, the link goes to dot.com site where readers will find pages that include advertisements for commercial products and services.
While the vocabulary is mainly geared for college students, with scaffolding by teachers, the book can certainly be used in high school classes as well.
Cultural Relevance: The book incorporates the diverse histories and herstories of different races, ethnicities and backgrounds throughout. Three features—“Defining ‘American’ “, “My Story” and “Americana”—present a wide-ranging multicultural view of the past. “Defining ‘American’ “ uses short selections from documents, speeches, photographs and other writing to uncover hidden histories and untold stories of what it means to an American, including a selection from Sarah H. Bradford’s 1869 book Scenes from the Life of Harriet Tubman; Chief Justice John Marshall’s 1832 ruling on the principle of Native American tribal sovereignty in Worcester v. Georgia; the photography of Jacob Riis documenting urban slums and tenements during the Glided Age; the story of African American soldiers during the Spanish American War; and a letter from Mary Childs Nearney, a secretary of the NAACP, requesting racist scenes be cut from the film, Birth of a Nation. “My Story” uses diaries, interviews, letters and other sources to set a context for important events and dramatic moments in American history, including Solomon Northup remembrance of the New Orleans Slave Market; a selection from Andrew Carnegie’s The Gospel of Wealth, a first person account of World War I trench warfare, a selection from a colonial Virginia planter, and a woman’s account of the devastation of farm lands during the 1930s Dust Bowl. “Americana” explores artifacts from pop culture to highlight the values and philosophies of different time periods, including Walt Whitman’s 1855 poem, “Song of Myself;” Joseph Glidden’s 1873 invention of barbed wire that changed land use patterns in the American West; lyrics from the Depression-era song, “Brother, Can You Spare a Dime?”, and pro-World War I propaganda posters in English and Yiddish.
There is a list of key terms, a short summary of key content, a set of multiple choice Review Questions, and several critical thinking questions at the end of each of the book’s 32 chapters. An Answer Key at the back of the book provides succinct explanations for the correct answers to the Review Questions making that a very useful feature for classroom instruction. Questions can be given in paper format or entered into a student responses system where students can discuss the questions and analyze the answer choices.
Table of Contents
- The Americas, Europe, and Africa Before 1492
- Early Globalization: The Atlantic World, 1492–1650
- Creating New Social Orders: Colonial Societies, 1500–1700
- Rule Britannia! The English Empire, 1660–1763
- Imperial Reforms and Colonial Protests, 1763-1774
- America's War for Independence, 1775-1783
- Creating Republican Governments, 1776–1790
- Growing Pains: The New Republic, 1790–1820
- The Industrial, Market, and Transportation Revolutions, 1800–1850
- Jacksonian Democracy, 1820–1840
- A Nation on the Move: Westward Expansion, 1800–1860
- Cotton is King: The Antebellum South, 1800–1860
- Antebellum Idealism and Reform Impulses, 1820–1860
- Troubled Times: the Tumultuous 1850s
- The Civil War, 1860–1865
- The Era of Reconstruction, 1865–1877
- Go West Young Man! Westward Expansion, 1840-1900
- Industrialization and the Rise of Big Business, 1870-1900
- The Growing Pains of Urbanization, 1870-1900
- Politics in the Gilded Age, 1870-1900
- Leading the Way: The Progressive Movement, 1890-1920
- Age of Empire: American Foreign Policy, 1890-1914
- Americans and the Great War, 1914-1919
- The Jazz Age: Redefining the Nation, 1919-1929
- Brother, Can You Spare a Dime? The Great Depression, 1929-1932
- Franklin Roosevelt and the New Deal, 1932-1941
- Fighting the Good Fight in World War II, 1941-1945
- Post-War Prosperity and Cold War Fears, 1945-1960
- Contesting Futures: America in the 1960s
- Political Storms at Home and Abroad, 1968-1980
- From Cold War to Culture Wars, 1980-2000
- The Challenges of the Twenty-First Century
About the Book
U.S. Historycovers the breadth of the chronological history of the United States and also provides the necessary depth to ensure the course is manageable for instructors and students alike. U.S. History is designed to meet the scope and sequence requirements of most courses. The authors introduce key forces and major developments that together form the American experience, with particular attention paid to considering issues of race, class, and gender. The text provides a balanced approach to U.S. history, considering the people, events, and ideas that have shaped the United States from both the top down (politics, economics, diplomacy) and bottom up (eyewitness accounts, lived experience).
OpenStax College has compiled many resources for faculty and students, from faculty-only content to interactive homework and study guides.
About the Contributors
P. Scott Corbett, PhD - Ventura College
Volker Janssen, PhD - California State University-Fullerton
John M. Lund, PhD - Keene State College