The American Yawp Vol. II: Since 1877
Joseph L. Locke, University of Houston-Victoria
Ben Wright, University of Texas at Dallas
Copyright Year: 2019
ISBN 13: 9781503608146
Publisher: Stanford University Press
Conditions of Use
The American Yawp, Vol II covers a vast amount of ground in a length that is digestible and readable for introductory course audiences. It strikes a good balance between overarching themes and detailed and direct historical moments that bring the... read more
The American Yawp, Vol II covers a vast amount of ground in a length that is digestible and readable for introductory course audiences. It strikes a good balance between overarching themes and detailed and direct historical moments that bring the subject alive for readers. For a foundations course, typically "U.S. History Since 1877," this would provide a good textbook base that could be supplemented by more focus detailed readings from the instructor. It is light on text containing primary source "first person narratives" and could benefit from bolding key terms throughout the text and perhaps including hyperlinks to a glossary that can help students identify key concepts and unfamiliar terms. I could not find an index, but perhaps it was simply not an intuitive find on my part.
The content is accurate and uses reliable and tested sources from known historians in the field. The text takes a very un-biased approach and let's events speak for themselves without putting a spin on how students should interpret them. The text is engaging and brings students through a historical narrative in an engaging way that helps them make connections between events and historical trends without editorializing how the reader should process the events presented. There are missed opportunities to include some references to differing theories within the field and how that effects scholarly understanding of the historical narrative, but the material itself is accurate and comprehensive.
Some of the sources used are older, but they are well known and respected source material in the history field. The chapter arrangement follows closely with the way subjects in the "U.S. History Since 1877" courses are typically arranged. This would make the text easy to integrate into current course structures without disrupting most instructors current organization. Unless these courses are undergoing curriculum reform within the department, this text should stay relevant for most instructors for the long term. The updates that would need to occur would likely have to do with new interpretive lenses that come to the field. This is where introducing some references to differing theories in the field could be beneficial. That would make material easily update-able through touching on historiographical shifts without having to change the chapters in any comprehensive way.
The text is written very well and does not use obscure or "insider" language. This is important for accessibility for students being introduced to the material and perfect for 101 level course. There are moments where the text is introducing a new term (e.g. Gilded Age) where they slowly bring in the context and features of the era until finally one has a picture of why the era might be termed as it is. The text could benefit from being more explicit upfront about these terms by providing direct definitions before moving into the greater context and perhaps bolding or italicizing them to emphasize their importance as historical terms and concepts.
The text does a great job with internal consistency, both narratively and organizationally. Readers will find an identical structure from chapter to chapter and consistent language used throughout.
This text would work well with a modular course model that takes sections individually. The flow from chapter to chapter sometimes feels abrupt, but this may be intentional to allow flexibility and re-arrangement of topics so that courses can be individualized. Subtitled sections within each chapter are also very nicely self-contained and could be pulled out to create specialized topics if an instructor desires, such as "Native American" historical narrative or "American Capitalism" historical narratives. Instructors could benefit from these even more if hyperlinks were added for subheading within chapters.
As mentioned in the comment on consistence, the organization of the text is excellent. Readers will find an identical structure from chapter to chapter and consistent language used throughout. Additionally, the chapter arrangement follows closely with the way subjects in the "U.S. History Since 1877" courses are typically arranged. This would make the text easy to integrate into current course structures without disrupting most instructors current organization.
The interface of this textbook is very easy to use and contains large, gorgeous, and relevant images for each topic and sub topic that will interest the reader. Navigation from chapter to chapter and from the table of contents is very intuitive to use. Though again, the addition of key term markers or a glossary might be beneficial, as well as an index so students could easily find topics throughout the text.
I found no grammatical or spelling errors
Though never editorializing, the textbook does a great job of organizing material to create a picture of how historical events and trends impacted diverse American populations. The text makes a point of touching on how, in each historical period, Native populations, immigrant populations, lower socio-economic populations, as well as aristocratic classes were experiencing events differently. This creates a fuller picture of the American story, a crucial component to good readings for introductory history classes.
There are some aspects to this textbook that are unlike traditional texts that may require some supplemental material from instructors. For example, there are no maps included in any of the images, so the movement of peoples, population shifts, and wartime deployments traditionally included in history textbooks to show the geographical contexts and scale of historical events would need to be supplemented by instructors, if desired. As mentioned above, the textbook itself does not highlight important terms and does not include reflection or "knowledge testing" questions that are typically in textbooks, so again, that would need to be added/highlighted by the instructor, if desired. But overall, the textbook is comprehensive and hits on the important events and themes that introductory courses use and does so in an engaging and concise way.
As an historical survey authored by a large body of contributors, this second volume of _The American Yawp_ applies a wide perspective to the chronology it addresses. As observed by reviewers of Volume I, the text’s polyvocal authorship aids the... read more
As an historical survey authored by a large body of contributors, this second volume of _The American Yawp_ applies a wide perspective to the chronology it addresses. As observed by reviewers of Volume I, the text’s polyvocal authorship aids the breadth of its subject matter while limiting its depth of characterization. This is no deficiency. The text’s narrative swiftness allows for greater topical inclusion, appropriate for the survey genre, and the footnotes and reference lists included with each chapter connect readers to deeper trajectories of scholarship. All principal subject matter of traditional U.S. history surveys appears, and some topics not commonly addressed also receive coverage. Inclusion of the chapter “The Recent Past” draws the volume’s broad narrative into the present and establishes connections between concerns that are contemporary with readers and the habits of mind instilled through historical research and interpretation. Volume II of _The American Yawp_ continues to prove useful in the standard U.S. history survey course as well as providing entry points into more specialized historiographies.
The volume presents an accurate accounting of its subject matter and avoids bias while adopting a definite perspective. Emphasizing an inclusive topical frame, the text attempts to balance its subject matter by presenting a composite of various interpretations.
Chapters generally rely on a reasonable consensus of recent scholarship and the HTML-format version of the text allows for submission of precise feedback at the level of individual paragraphs. Editors have proven responsive to feedback, providing annual summaries of changes to the text since 2016, and consistently expanding a range of supplementary resources. The editors link to primary sources for each chapter and to a robust selection of teaching aids.
Pitched to an introductory audience, the volume’s prose avoids tedious or burdensome expression. The authors introduce students to the craft of historical interpretation by modeling techniques rather than through oblique explanation.
Chapters are edited across the volume to present a consistent voice. The text proves highly readable and remains coherent throughout but avoids stylistic monotony.
Divided between fifteen chapters, the volume easily maps onto a traditional semester academic calendar. Individual chapters retain internal consistency that allows for rearrangement in a thematically driven approach or to alter the volume’s presentation of chronology.
The use of chapter editors to organize material from teams of contributors lends a consistent frame to the overall text and a consistent narrative voice to each chapter. The collectivity of chapters speaks in a productive plurality of voices and coherently articulates the volume’s broad, shared themes as well as the progression between its many topics.
The text can be accessed at no cost in an HTML format that includes hyperlinked chapters and references; as a PDF document without hyperlinked apparatus; or in print, available from Stanford University Press for a list price of 25 USD. Page layouts are clear in all formats, pairing text with a judicious and substantial selection of images that is impressive for an open-access resource. Addition of hyperlinked chapters and references would improve the PDF document, and addition of an index to all formats would benefit readers.
The volume’s prose is edited to a very high standard and remains essentially free of grammatical error, exhibiting both accuracy and clarity.
_The American Yawp_ demonstrates excellence in inclusive historical scholarship. Under a theme of Whitman’s poetic self-song, the pair of volumes empowers students to own history by imagining themselves into the work of historiography. Framed through a common preface, the volumes speak together not only about the content and interpretations of the U.S. past, but about the significance of crafting history as a means of achieving self-understanding. As the text attends to “both chorus and cacophony together” in narrating U.S. history, it likewise merges the polyphony of recent scholarship into concise symphonic interpretations. The editors and contributors position attention to context and contingency not only in a historicist drive for recollection of the past, but in their well-judged presentism. As the contributors frame the production of history, contexts of the present guide interest in the past, and present contexts will give way to other future interests, just as interpreters now ask questions that differ from previous readings. In all, Volume II of _The American Yawp_ delivers a highly approachable yet substantial synopsis of recent historical scholarship on U.S. history since the 1870s, and incorporates a broad selection of perspectives and experiences in its narration.
Volume II of The American Yawp is a comprehensive survey of the second half of the American History series. It is organized both chronologically and thematically and in easily digestible format, though the focus on chronology leads to some themes... read more
Volume II of The American Yawp is a comprehensive survey of the second half of the American History series. It is organized both chronologically and thematically and in easily digestible format, though the focus on chronology leads to some themes being broken up into multiple chapters. It covers all of the generally expected topics for an American survey course, from the rise of Big Business and Organized Labor, American Imperialism, Progressivism, World Wars and the Crisis of Capitalism, as well as the Cold War and beyond. Though the material is comprehensive, the lack of an index or glossary is a major oversight, especially considering the thematic divisions mentioned previously.
The content covered is accurate with little noticeable bias. The text does a solid job of presenting conflicting viewpoints, highlighting both the tragic and triumphant aspects of the past. Though this approach might not please those who prefer to read the hagiographies of great men, it is one that is inline with the mainstream approach to American history today.
The text is up to date, and the division of chapters should make it easy to update. A summary of recent updates done for 2019-2020 is available at the top of the table of contents, making it easy for readers to assess. Each chapter provides not just a list of footnotes, but also suggested readings that combine a selection of classic works and the most recent scholarship.
The text is free of jargon, making it readable and easily accessible to the average college student. However, there is one significant drawback in clarity in this book: each chapter consists of only text and images. The book is severely lacking in maps, timelines, charts, or other visual. All of these types of visuals are key to understanding history and their lack of inclusion here will require any instructor who adopts this book to provide their own.
The text is consistent throughout each chapter, indicative of the high quality of editing to bring consistency to the work of more than 300 contributors.
This book is very modular and easy to break up. Each chapter consists of multiple subsections that can easily be assigned individually. Whatever your teaching style, you should be able to assign entire chapters or individual sections to meet your learning outcomes.
The textbook is organized both chronologically and thematically and easily navigable through links in the table of contents. Each chapter is similarly organized thematically and chronologically with subheadings.
The interface is easy to use and navigate. All chapters and subsection are easy to find through navigable hypertext links.
There were no glaring grammatical errors that would have detracted from the overall presentation.
The book does a good job of presenting diverse cultural viewpoints on the American experience. If anything, the text may frustrate old-school historians by spending as much time on Charlotte Perkins Gilman’s views on female domesticity as it does on Andrew Carnegie’s steel empire. The primary sources included at the end of each chapter are similarly diverse, expressing the viewpoints of women, the indigenous population, immigrants, and people of color.
Overall this is an excellent example of the best work in open source textbooks. The minor flaws in the text can be addressed with supplemental items from any instructor who adopts, allowing them to customize the experience for their students and save them a great deal of money in the process.
Table of Contents
- 16.Capital and Labor
- 17.Conquering the West
- 18.Life in Industrial America
- 19.American Empire
- 20.The Progressive Era
- 21.World War I and Its Aftermath
- 22.The New Era
- 23.The Great Depression
- 24.World War II
- 25.The Cold War
- 26.The Affluent Society
- 27.The Sixties
- 28.The Unraveling
- 29.The Triumph of the Right
- 30.The Recent Past
About the Book
In an increasingly digital world in which pedagogical trends are de-emphasizing rote learning and professors are increasingly turning toward active-learning exercises, scholars are fleeing traditional textbooks. Yet for those that still yearn for the safe tether of a synthetic text, as either narrative backbone or occasional reference material, The American Yawp offers a free and online, collaboratively built, open American history textbook designed for college-level history courses. Unchecked by profit motives or business models, and free from for-profit educational organizations, The American Yawp is by scholars, for scholars. All contributors—experienced college-level instructors—volunteer their expertise to help democratize the American past for twenty-first century classrooms.
About the Contributors
Joseph L. Locke