A nation forged by crisis A new American history

Jay Sexton, 1978-

Book - 2018

"In A Nation Forged by Crisis, historian Jay Sexton contends that our national narrative is not one of halting yet inevitable progress, but of repeated disruptions brought about by shifts in the international system. Sexton shows that the American Revolution was a consequence of the increasing integration of the British and American economies; that a necessary precondition for the Civil War was the absence, for the first time in decades, of foreign threats; and that we cannot understand the... New Deal without examining the role of European immigrants and their offspring in transforming the Democratic Party. A necessary corrective to conventional narratives of American history, A Nation Forged by Crisis argues that we can only prepare for our unpredictable future by first acknowledging the contingencies of our collective past"--

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Subjects
Published
New York : Basic Books 2018.
Edition
First edition
Language
English
Physical Description
vii, 246 pages ; 25 cm
Bibliography
Includes bibliographical references and index.
ISBN
9781541617230
1541617231
Main Author
Jay Sexton, 1978- (author)
  • An unexpected result
  • The wrecking ball
  • The last best hope of earth
  • Zigzagging through global crisis
  • Conclusion: from triumphto crisis.
Review by Library Journal Reviews

Sexton (history, Univ. of Missouri; Debtor Diplomacy) has written a wide-ranging U.S. history by examining the greatest crises in each century of its existence—the American Revolution, the Civil War, and the Great Depression—within the international and national contexts that fueled these events. The author argues that the nation is a product of international forces, including the cyclical booms and busts of the global economy, international migration, and disruptions in relations among countries. Sexton puts to rest the nationalist myth of American exceptionalism, the idea that American history has uniquely been shaped by its institutions and ideology and shows how, even when trying to withdraw from the international order, the country has been inextricably bound within it. The author does not shy away from drawing conclusions about our current politics and the global situation we now occupy, providing much food for thought while pointing readers toward areas for further reading and consideration. VERDICT Those interested in American and international history and politics will find this a worthwhile introduction to the nation's past.—Chad E. Statler, Westlake Porter P.L., Westlake, OH Copyright 2018 Library Journal.

Review by Publishers Weekly Reviews

Sexton, a historian of American politics, organizes his astute history around "the greatest periods of crisis in each century of its existence," which he describes metaphorically as "violent earthquakes that forever altered the nation's political landscape." First, Sexton emphasizes the skill with which the founding generation allowed the newly independent U.S. to engage economically with European nations while remaining aloof from their political machinations. He then moves on to explore the international context that informed the sharpening tensions over slavery in the mid-19th century, particularly the rise of a British ideology of free trade and the influx of Irish immigrants into the cities of the northern U.S. After arguing that Union victory and the abolition of slavery allowed the U.S. to profit from an increasingly globalized economy, Sexton offers a lengthy and detailed discussion of the nation's turn away from the isolationism of the 1920s to internationalism in the 1940s, along with the belief that, as an economic dynamo that had avoided both communism and fascism, the country was "exceptional." Claiming that, in the current unsettled times, Americans should "revisit previous moments of crisis," Sexton's book offers an insightful roadmap of how the country got here. (Oct.) Copyright 2018 Publishers Weekly.

Review by Publisher Summary 1

A renowned historian presents a necessary corrective to conventional narratives of American history, revealing that crises, including those today, have determined our nation’s course from the start. 20,000 first printing.

Review by Publisher Summary 2

Argues that the United States has been forged and shaped by crises, and explores these upheavals from the mid-eighteenth century to the present day.

Review by Publisher Summary 3

"In A Nation Forged by Crisis, historian Jay Sexton contends that our national narrative is not one of halting yet inevitable progress, but of repeated disruptions brought about by shifts in the international system. Sexton shows that the American Revolution was a consequence of the increasing integration of the British and American economies; that a necessary precondition for the Civil War was the absence, for the first time in decades, of foreign threats; and that we cannot understand the New Deal without examining the role of European immigrants and their offspring in transforming the Democratic Party. A necessary corrective to conventional narratives of American history, A Nation Forged by Crisis argues that we can only prepare for our unpredictable future by first acknowledging the contingencies of our collective past"--

Review by Publisher Summary 4

A concise new history of the United States revealing that crises -- not unlike those of the present day -- have determined our nation's course from the start In A Nation Forged by Crisis, historian Jay Sexton contends that our national narrative is not one of halting yet inevitable progress, but of repeated disruptions brought about by shifts in the international system. Sexton shows that the American Revolution was a consequence of the increasing integration of the British and American economies; that a necessary precondition for the Civil War was the absence, for the first time in decades, of foreign threats; and that we cannot understand the New Deal without examining the role of European immigrants and their offspring in transforming the Democratic Party. A necessary corrective to conventional narratives of American history, A Nation Forged by Crisis argues that we can only prepare for our unpredictable future by first acknowledging the contingencies of our collective past.