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These United States

A Nation in the Making, 1890 to the Present

Glenda Elizabeth Gilmore (Author, Yale University), Thomas J. Sugrue (Author, New York University)


A powerful history of the making and unmaking of American democracy and global power, told in sweeping scope and intimate detail.

In the winter of 1936, Franklin Roosevelt remarked in a fireside chat, “I do not look upon these United States as a finished product. We are still in the making.” Certainly apt in the midst of the Depression, the idea of a nation in the making still resonates today as we measure the achievements and shortcomings of our democracy. Over the long twentieth century, Americans have worked, organized, marched, and fought to make the nation’s ideals a reality for all. This shared commitment to achieving an American democracy is the inspiring theme of These United States.

Acclaimed historians Glenda Elizabeth Gilmore and Thomas J. Sugrue forge the panoramic and the personal into an authoritative narrative. They give us insightful accounts of the century’s large events—war, prosperity, and depression, astute leadership and arrogant power, the rise and decline of a broad middle class. And they ground the history in the stories of everyday Americans such as William Hushka, a Lithuanian immigrant who makes and loses an American life; Stan Igawa, a Japanese-American who never doubts his citizenship despite internment during World War II; and Betty Dukes, a Wal-Mart cashier who takes on America’s largest corporation over wage discrimination.

The history begins and ends in periods of concentrated wealth, with immigration roiling politics and racial divisions flaring. Its arc over those hundred-plus years raises key questions: how far has our democracy come? Were the postwar decades of middle-class prosperity and global power a culmination of the American Century or the exception in a long history of economic and political division? Gilmore and Sugrue frame these questions by drawing the illuminating connections characteristic of the best historical writing.

Book Details

  • Hardcover
  • October 2015
  • ISBN 978-0-393-23952-2
  • 6.5 × 9.6 in / 736 pages
  • Sales Territory: Worldwide

Endorsements & Reviews

“[A] timely, remarkable new survey of America since 1890 . . . required reading.” — Eric Herschthal, Slate

“A tour de force: brilliantly conceived, elegantly written, and consistently insightful.” — Peniel Joseph, author of Stokely: A Life

“This marvelous book weaves together a sweeping yet strikingly intimate narrative of the nation’s century-long struggle to make real its founding promise. It is learned, passionate history, expertly told.” — Kevin Boyle, author of Arc of Justice

“An invigorating, inspiring, much-needed exploration of the ‘American Century.’” — Beverly Gage, author of The Day Wall Street Exploded

“Ambitious, wise, and briskly told…essential reading for anyone who cares about the course and fate of the nation.” — Michael Kazin, author of American Dreamers

“A pleasure to read, These United States offers a consistent interpretation of our history, explaining our strengths and the origins of our problems.” — Linda Gordon, coauthor of Feminism Unfinished

“Written by two of our most innovative historians, this beautifully realized volume stimulates thought, informs with great clarity, and advances the craft of historical synthesis.” — Ira Katznelson, author of Fear Itself

“This vigorous narrative shows how the debates and decisions of the twentieth century shape those we face in the twenty-first… Combines a novelistic grasp of individual stories with the broad sweep of change across time.” — Jacquelyn Dowd Hall, coauthor of Like a Family

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