History of the US 20th Century – Free American History Books PDF

Strategies of Containment: A Critical Appraisal of Postwar American National Security Policy

Gaddis, John Lewis
Oxford University 1982 Dewey Dec. 973.91

“Gaddis’s book … makes an invaluable contribution to our understanding of American policy towards the Soviet Union since World War II.” – Alexander L. George

Contents: Prologue: Containment before Kennan — George F. Kennan and the strategy of containment — Implementing containment — NSC-68 and the Korean War — Eisenhower, Dulles, and the new look — Implementing the new look — Kennedy, Johnson, and flexible response — Implementing flexible response: Vietnam as a test case — Nixon, Kissinger, and détente — Implementing détente — Epilogue: Containment after Kissinger — Appendix: National security expenditures as a percentage of total government expenditures and gross national product: 1945-1980.

The Sixties: Years of Hope, Days of Rage – History of the US 20th Century

Gitlin, Todd
Bantam 1987 Dewey Dec. 973.92

Say “the Sixties” and the images start coming, images of a time when all authority was defied and millions of young Americans thought they could change the world—either through music, drugs, and universal love or by “putting their bodies on the line” against injustice and war.
Todd Gitlin, the highly regarded writer, media critic, and professor of sociology at the University of California, Berkeley, has written an authoritative and compelling account of this supercharged decade—a decade he helped shape as an early president of Students for a Democratic Society (SDS) and an organizer of the first national demonstration against the Vietnam war. Part critical history, part personal memoir, part celebration, and part meditation, this critically acclaimed work resurrects a generation on all its glory and tragedy.

The Bully Pulpit: Theodore Roosevelt, William Howard Taft, and the Golden Age of Journalism

Goodwin, Doris Kearns
Simon & Schuster 2013 Dewey Dec. 973.91

One of the Best Books of the Year as chosen by The New York Times, The Washington Post, The Economist, Time, USA TODAY, Christian Science Monitor, and more. “A tale so gripping that one questions the need for fiction when real life is so plump with drama and intrigue” (Associated Press).
Doris Kearns Goodwin’s The Bully Pulpit is a dynamic history of the first decade of the Progressive era, that tumultuous time when the nation was coming unseamed and reform was in the air.
The story is told through the intense friendship of Theodore Roosevelt and William Howard Taft—a close relationship that strengthens both men before it ruptures in 1912, when they engage in a brutal fight for the presidential nomination that divides their wives, their children, and their closest friends, while crippling the progressive wing of the Republican Party, causing Democrat Woodrow Wilson to be elected, and changing the country’s history.

The Modern American Presidency

Gould, Lewis L.
Univ. of Kansas 2003 Dewey Dec. 973.92

Their idiosyncrasies and failures were as diverse as their accomplishments. William McKinley tracked press opinion before Richard Nixon was even born. Calvin Coolidge utilized radio and press conferences long before today’s spin doctors. And John F. Kennedy brought the culture of celebrity to the White House. The president of the United States may be the most powerful man in the world. But even though all of our modern presidents have acted in what they believed to be the country’s best interests, Lewis Gould suggests that most of them fell short of the challenges of an impossible job. To treat the modern presidency as a success story, he claims, is to falsify the historical record. The Modern American Presidency is a lively, interpretive synthesis of our twentieth-century leaders, filled with intriguing insights into how the presidency has evolved as America rose to prominence on the world stage.
As Gould observes, today’s presidency is so bogged down in media manipulation, fund-raising, and self indulgence that it is no more capable of grappling with difficulties than it was a century ago. The Modern American Presidency advocates the radical rethinking of what the nation needs from its chief executive and gives us the understanding we need to go about it.

An Encore for Reform; The Old Progressives and the New Deal

Graham, Otis L.
Oxford University 1967 Dewey Dec. 973.91

Analyzing the dynamics of reform in the early twentieth century, the author shows that the New Deal was not an inevitable by-product of the Progressive era.

The Great Campaigns: Reform and War in America, 1900-1928

Graham, Otis L.
Prentice-Hall 1971 Dewey Dec. 973.91

28 significant documents from the period. Modern American history.

See our Newsweek PDF Back Issues 1933-2008

About Face: The Odyssey of an American Warrior – History of the US 20th Century

Hackworth, David H. (Colonel) and Sherman, Julie
Simon & Schuster 1990

“From age fifteen to forty David Hackworth devoted himself to the U.S. Army and he fast became a living legend. In 1971, however, he appeared on television to decry the doomed war effort in Vietnam. Now, in About Face, he has written an autobiography which many Vietnam veterans have called the most important book of their generation. From Korea to Berlin, from the Cuban missile crisis to Vietnam , Hackworth’s story is that of an exemplary patriot , played out against the backdrop of the changing fortunes of America and the American military. It is also a stunning indictment—of the Pentagon’s fundamental misunderstanding of the Vietnam conflict, and of the bureaucracy and self-interest that fueled that lost war.” – Book cover.

Empire and Revolution: The United States and the Third World since 1945

Hahn, Peter L, and Heiss, Mary Ann, eds.
Ohio State Univ. 2001 Dewey Dec. 973.9

The ten essays in this volume represent state-of-the-art surveys of ten singular episodes in U.S. interaction with the Third World since 1945. Each author seeks to present a unique approach to a specific topic within U.S. — Third World relations. The essays cover the globe and include studies of the Middle East, Latin America, Africa, and Asia. They make use of a variety of source material and employ a wide range of analytical devices, such as the national security paradigm, the idea of economic development, and culture.
The essays present a multihued portrait of the different ways policy makers in the United States dealt with Third World problems. The essays make clear the multitude of considerations that affected policy making; the many different actors, both official and nonofficial, who came to influence the policy-making process; and the possibilities for future research into U.S. relations with the nations of the Third World.

The Best and the Brightest

Halberstam, David
Penguin 1983 Dewey Dec. 973.92

“In this brilliant, imaginatively conceived, lucidly organized, and gracefully written work, the author describes, analytically rather than narratively, how the Kennedy-Johnson intellectual (McNamara, Bundy, Rusk, Ball, Taylor, et al.) men praised as ‘the best and the brightest’ men of this century, became the architects of the disastrous American policy of Indochina. Halberstam analyzes the men, their attitudes and their decisions; and thus the book becomes not a study about Vietnam or American foreign policy, but about power and success in America.” Libr J.

The Coldest Winter: America and the Korean War

Halberstam, David
Hyperion 2007 Dewey Dec. 973.92

“Halberstam gives us a full narrative of the political decisions and miscalculations on both sides, charting the disastrous path that led to the massive entry of Chinese forces near the Yalu, and that caught Douglas MacArthur and his soldiers by surprise. He provides vivid portraits of all the major figures–Eisenhower, Truman, Acheson, Kim, and Mao, and Generals MacArthur, Almond, and Ridgway. He also provides us with his trademark narrative journalism, chronicling the crucial battles with reportage of the highest order. At the heart of the book are the stories of the soldiers on the front lines who were left to deal with the consequences of the dangerous misjudgments and competing agendas of powerful men.” Publisher.

The Fifties

Halberstam, David
Villard 1993 Dewey Dec. 973.92

The Fifties is a sweeping social, political, economic, and cultural history of the ten years that Halberstam regards as seminal in determining what our nation is today. Halberstam offers portraits of not only the titans of the age: Eisenhower Dulles, Oppenheimer, MacArthur, Hoover, and Nixon, but also of Harley Earl, who put fins on cars; Dick and Mac McDonald and Ray Kroc, who mass-produced the American hamburger; Kemmons Wilson, who placed his Holiday Inns along the nation’s roadsides; U-2 pilot Gary Francis Powers; Grace Metalious, who wrote Peyton Place; and “Goody” Pincus, who led the team that invented the Pill.

The Industrial Revolution in America: Automobiles

Hillstrom, Kevin and Hillstrom, Laurie Collier, eds.

“The Industrial Revolution was the wellspring from which the modern United States emerged. But look closer at specific industries and you will see the nation confronting the inevitable side effects of modernization for the first time, among them … pollution and rampant consumerism (the automobile industry) … Looks at the American automobile industry as the culmination of the Industrial Revolution, where pioneering techniques of its founding fathers (Ford, Chrysler, Sloan) still resonate today.

The Age of Reform: From Bryan to FDR – History of the US 20th Century

Hofstadter, Richard
Knopf 1955 Dewey Dec. 973.91

This analysis of the reform movements in American politics from 1890-1940 reviews: The agrarian uprising that found its expression in the Populist movement of the 1890’s; The Progressive movement from about 1900-1914; The New Deal of the 1930’s. Emphasis is placed upon the ideas of the leading political reformers.
“By concentrating upon what reformers thought rather than upon their political antics Hofstadter has made a unique and valuable contribution.” – Saturday Rev.

America’s Splendid Little Wars: A Short History of U.S. Military Engagements, 1975-2000

Huchthausen, Peter A.
Viking 2003 Dewey Dec. 973.92

From the evacuation of Saigon in 1975 to the end of the twentieth century, the United States committed its forces to more than a dozen military operations. Offering a fresh analysis of the Iranian hostage rescue attempt, the invasions of Granada and Panama, the first Gulf War, the missions in Somalia and Bosnia, and more, author and distinguished U.S. naval captain Peter Huchthausen presents a detailed history of each military engagement through eyewitness accounts, exhaustive research, and his unique insider perspective as an intelligence expert. This timely and riveting military history is “a must-read for anyone seeking to understand the nature of war today” (Stephen Trent Smith).

The Best of Times: The Boom and Bust Years of America Before and After Everything Changed

Johnson, Haynes
Harves 2002 Dewey Dec. 973.92

“With sweeping force and cultural acumen, Johnson revives the ’90s, the ups and downs, filled with all that we may have forgotten and, most importantly, all that we never knew. In four fascinating parts, Johnson delivers the stories behind the stories-revealing the personalities behind the media party of the ’90s, the partisanship that didn’t succeed in bringing down the president, the pervasive technology that stretched from Silicon Valley to Monsanto with the corresponding hopes and fears, and the equally extreme reactions on Wall Street to every last bit of it.” – Publisher.

The Uneasy State: The United States from 1915 to 1945

Karl, Barry Dean
University of Chicago 1983 Dewey Dec. 973.91

“For more than a century of their history, Americans considered themselves citizens of a nation made up of individual and historically distinct states. Not even the Civil War ended the profound sense of local control of customs, traditions, and civil authority. But the sudden upheavals of the twentieth century, marked by the two World Wars and the New Deal, transformed the United States into a national and industrial state. Barry Karl’s analysis of this transformation shows that Americans were, and still are, wary of the sort of national management of social and economic policy that is common to all other industrial nations. As an industrial country in an industrialized world, we are an uneasy state.” -Publisher.

American Diplomacy, 1900-1950

Kennan, George F.
University of Chicago 1951 Dewey Dec. 973.91

George Frost Kennan (1904-2005) was an American diplomat and historian, best known as an advocate for the policy of containment of the Soviet expansion during the Cold War. In 1950 he left the Department of State and became a realist critic of U.S. foreign policy. This book was his first major effort at writing diplomatic history, applying the perspective he had gained as a diplomat and foreign policy maker.

Freedom from Fear: The American People in Depression and War, 1929-1945

Kennedy, David M.
Oxford Univ. 1999 Dewey Dec. 973.91

Winner of the Pulitzer Prize for History and the Francis Parkman Prize. “Between 1929 and 1945, two great travails were visited upon the American people: the Great Depression and World War II. In a single volume the author tells how America endured, and eventually prevailed, in the face of those unprecedented calamities…. Roosevelt’s New Deal wrenched opportunity from the trauma of the 1930s and created a lasting legacy of economic and social reform, but it was afflicted with shortcomings and contradictions as well. The author details the New Deal’s problems and defeats, as well as its achievements… The same generation of Americans who battled the Depression eventually had to shoulder arms in another conflict that wreaked worldwide destruction, ushered in the nuclear age, and forever changed their way of life and their country’s relationship to the rest of the world. In the second installment of the chronicle, the author explains how the nation agonized over its role in the conflict, how it fought the war, and why the U.S. emerged victorious, and why the consequences of victory were sometimes sweet, sometimes ironic.” -Publisher.

1969: The Year Everything Changed

Kirkpatrick, Rob
Skyhorse 2009 Dewey Dec. 973.92

1969 was the year that saw Apollo 11 land on the moon, the Cinderella stories of Joe Namath’s Jets and the “Miracle Mets,” the Harvard student strike and armed standoff at Cornell, the People’s Park riots, the first artificial heart transplant and first computer network connection, the Manson family murders and cryptic Zodiac Killer letters, the Woodstock music festival, Easy Rider, Kurt Vonnegut’s Slaughterhouse-Five, the Battle of Hamburger Hill, the birth of punk music, the invasion of Led Zeppelin, the occupation of Alcatraz, death at Altamont Speedway, and much more. It was a year that pushed boundaries on stage (Oh! Calcutta!), screen (Midnight Cowboy), and the printed page (Everything You Always Wanted to Know about Sex), witnessed the genesis of the gay rights movement at Stonewall, and started the era of the “no fault” divorce. Richard Nixon became president, the New Left squared off against the Silent Majority, William Ayers co-founded the Weatherman Organization, and the nationwide Moratorium provided a unifying force in the peace movement.
Compelling, timely, and quite simply a blast to read, 1969 chronicles the year through all its ups and downs, in culture and society, sports, music, film, politics, and technology. This is a book for those who survived 1969, or for those who simply want to feel as alive as those who lived through this time of amazing upheaval.

Century of War: Politics, Conflicts, and Society since 1914

Kolko, Gabriel
New Press 1994 Dewey Dec. 973.91

This volume is a history of the way in which war has transformed modern society and a political analysis of the ways in which wars have been waged. Professor Kolko takes a long view of the 20th century, focusing on World Wars I and II, the Korean War, and the Vietnam War, to show the degree to which leaders and generals have consistently misunderstood the battles on which they embarked. Kolko argues that time after time, generals have underestimated the implications of new military technology and have begun wars they were incapable of managing or ending. Since World War I, this technology has led to conflicts being more protracted and more destructive to civilian life and property than even the most pessimistic had predicted. As the generals have been slow to realize, war has become less a matter of strategy than a contest between differing social and economic systems. “Century of War” provides a synthesis of the effects of war on civilian populations and the political results of these traumatizing experiences. Kolko also provides a revisionist view of the post-World War II conflicts, from the Philippine uprising to the Greek Civil wars.

The Enemy Within; the Inside Story of German Sabotage in America – History of the US 20th Century

Landau, Henry
NY: Putnam’s Sons 1937 Dewey Dec. 973.91

“In this book I have endeavored to present the true facts, as far as they are known, concerning German sabotage in the United States during the period between the outbreak of the World War and the entrance of the United States into the war. I have concentrated principally on the Black Tom and Kingsland cases, as they were the most devastating acts committed and the only ones, with the exception of an -explosion in Tacoma Harbor, in which any attempt has been made to prove German complicity and to collect damages.” – Author’s Introduction.

Dry Manhattan: Prohibition in New York City

Lerner, Michael A.
Harvard Univ. 2007 Dewey Dec. 363.4

In 1919, the United States embarked on the country’s boldest attempt at moral and social reform: Prohibition. The 18th Amendment to the Constitution prohibited the manufacture, transportation, and sale of alcohol around the country. This “noble experiment,” as President Hoover called it, was intended to usher in a healthier, more moral, and more efficient society. Nowhere was such reform needed more, proponents argued, than in New York City–and nowhere did Prohibition fail more spectacularly. “Dry Manhattan” is the first major work on Prohibition in nearly a quarter century, and the only full history of Prohibition in the era’s most vibrant city.
Though New Yorkers were cautiously optimistic at first, Prohibition quickly degenerated into a deeply felt clash of cultures that utterly transformed life in the city. Impossible to enforce, the ban created vibrant new markets for illegal alcohol, spawned corruption and crime, fostered an exhilarating culture of speakeasies and nightclubs, and exposed the nation’s deep prejudices. Writ large, the conflict over Prohibition, Michael Lerner demonstrates, was about much more than the freedom to drink. It was a battle between competing visions of the United States, pitting wets against drys, immigrants against old stock Americans, Catholics and Jews against Protestants, and proponents of personal liberty against advocates of societal reform.
In his evocative history, Lerner reveals Prohibition to be the defining issue of the era, the first major “culture war” of the twentieth century, and a harbinger of the social and moral debates that divide America even today.

In the Shadow of FDR: From Harry Truman to George W. Bush

Leuchtenburg, William Edward
Cornell University 2001 Dewey Dec. 973.91

A ghost has inhabited the Oval Office since 1945 — the ghost of Franklin Delano Roosevelt. FDR’s formidable presence has cast a large shadow on the occupants of that office in the years since his death, and an appreciation of his continuing influence remains essential to understanding the contemporary presidency.
This new edition of In the Shadow of FDR has been updated to examine Bill Clinton’s presidency, including possible parallels between Hillary Clinton and Eleanor Roosevelt. Concluding with an analysis of the 2000 presidential campaign, William E. Leuchtenburg assesses the influence FDR’s legacy is likely to continue to have in the new century.

American Epoch: A History of the United States since 1900, Vol 1 – War, Reform, and Society 1900-1945

Volume 2 – 1936-1985

Link, William A.
McGraw-Hill 1993, 1987 Dewey Dec. 973.91

Vol 1 here is the 7th edition, while Vol 2 is the 6th edition.

The Glory and the Dream: A Narrative History of America, 1932-1972 – USA History Books Online

Volume 2

Manchester, William
Little, Brown 1974 Dewey Dec. 973.91

“‘The Glory and the Dream encompasses politics, military history, economics, the lively arts, science, fashion, fads, social change, sexual mores, communications, graffiti – everything and anything indigenous that can be captured in print… Masterfully compressing four crowded decades of our history, Manchester relives the epic or significant or just memorable events that befell the generation of Americans whose lives pivoted between the America before and the America after the Second World War. ‘The Glory and the Dream’ tells the story of that generation.” -Publisher.

Daily Life in the United States, 1960-1990: Decades of Discord

Marty, Myron A.
Greenwood 1997 Dewey Dec. 973.92

The volatility of the civil rights movement; the impact of the baby boom generation; the influences of television, advertising, and other media; the emergence of environmental and consumer-protection movements; and the effects the Vietnam War and Watergate had on the American public are just a few of the issues examined and outlined. From the space age to the computer age, the user can explore how change-induced discord and adjustment to postmodern times led to cultural standoffs, affecting everyday lives.

The Metaphysical Club

Menand, Louis
Farrar, Straus, and Giroux 2001 Dewey Dec. 973.9

A riveting, original book about the creation of the modern American mind. The Metaphysical Club was an informal group that met in Cambridge, Massachusetts, in 1872, to talk about ideas. Its members included Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr., founder of modern jurisprudence; William James, the father of modern American psychology; and Charles Sanders Peirce, logician, scientist, and the founder of semiotics. The Club was probably in existence for about nine months. No records were kept. The one thing we know that came out of it was an idea – an idea about ideas. This book is the story of that idea. Holmes, James, and Peirce all believed that ideas are not things “out there” waiting to be discovered but are tools people invent – like knives and forks and microchips – to make their way in the world. They thought that ideas are produced not by individuals, but by groups of individuals – that ideas are social. They do not develop according to some inner logic of their own but are entirely dependent – like germs – on their human carriers and environment. And they thought that the survival of any idea depends not on its immutability but on its adaptability. ‘The Metaphysical Club’ is written in the spirit of this idea about ideas. It is not a history of philosophy but an absorbing narrative about personalities and social history, a story about America. It begins with the American Civil War and ends with World War I. This is a book about the evolution of the American mind during the crucial period that formed the world we now inhabit.

New World Coming: The 1920s and the Making of Modern America

Miller, Nathan
Scribner 2003 Dewey Dec. 973.91

“Chronicling what he views as the most consequential decade of the past century, Nathan Miller — an award-winning journalist and five-time Pulitzer nominee — paints a vivid portrait of the 1920s, focusing on the men and women who shaped that extraordinary time, including, ironically, three of America’s most conservative presidents: Harding, Coolidge, and Hoover… As unprecedented economic prosperity and sweeping social change dazzled the public, the sensibilities and restrictions of the nineteenth century vanished, and many of the institutions, ideas, and preoccupations of our own age emerged. With scandal, sex, and crime the lifeblood of the tabloids, the contemporary culture of celebrity and sensationalism took root and journalism became popular entertainment. By discarding Victorian idealism and embracing twentieth-century skepticism, America became, for the first time, thoroughly modernized. There is hardly a dimension of our present world, from government to popular culture, that doesn’t trace its roots to the 1920s, and few decades are more intriguing or significant today.” -Publisher.

Articles Collection – Teaching History

From Camelot to Kent State: The Sixties Experience in the Words of Those Who Lived It – History of the US 20th Century

Morrison, Joan and Morrison, Robert K., eds.
Oxford University 1987 Dewey Dec. 973.92

From Camelot to Kent State tells the story of ten of the most dramatic years in the life of America-and of fifty-nine men and women who lived through those years. In their own words, civil rights activists, soldiers who fought in Vietnam, anti-war protesters, student radicals, feminists, Peace Corps workers, and many others take us inside the major events and movements of the period. Far from a dispassionate history of the Sixties, these stories bristle with the tension and immediacy of lived experience.

The History of the American Expedition Fighting the Bolsheviki: Campaigning in North Russia 1918-1919

Moore, Joel R. (Captain) and others, ed.
Detroit: Polar Bear 1920 Dewey Dec. 973.91

“The American military intervention at Archangel, Russia, at the end of World War I, nicknamed the “Polar Bear Expedition,” is a strange episode in American history. Ostensibly sent to Russia to prevent a German advance and to help reopen the Eastern Front, American soldiers found themselves fighting Bolshevik revolutionaries for months after the Armistice ended fighting in France. During the summer of 1918, the U. S. Army’s 85th Division, made up primarily of men from Michigan and Wisconsin, completed its training at Fort Custer, outside of Battle Creek, Michigan, and proceeded to England. While the rest of the division was preparing to enter the fighting in France, some 5,000 troops of the 339th Infantry and support units (one battalion of the 310th Engineers, the 337th Field Hospital, and the 337th Ambulance Company) were issued Russian weapons and equipment and sailed for Archangel, a Russian port on the White Sea, 600 miles north of Moscow.” – Website of Bentley Historical Library
Three officers of the 339th Infantry wrote this history of the expedition in 1920, apparently with the cooperation of the Army. Numerous photos are included.

The Urban Nation, 1920-1980

Mowry, George E.
Hill and Wang 1981 Dewey Dec. 973.91

The main theme of The Urban Nation is the transformation of American life during the past sixty-years through the rapid growth of cities and the accompanying emergence of a mass-production, mass-consumption economy. – Foreword.

Red Scare: A Study in National Hysteria, 1919-1920

Murray, Robert K.
University of Minnesota 1955 Dewey Dec. 973.91

“Few periods in American history have been so dramatic, so fraught with mystery, or so bristling with fear and hysteria as were the days of the great Red Scare that followed World War I. For sheer excitement, it would be difficult to find a more absorbing tale than the one told here. The famous Palmer raids of that era are still remembered as one of the most fantastic miscarriages of justice ever perpetrated upon the nation. The violent labor strife still makes those who lived through it shudder as they recall the Seattle general strike and Boston police strike, the great coal and steel strikes, and the bomb plots, shootings, and riots that accompanied these conflicts.” – Publisher.

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