American Crucible: Race and Nation in the Twentieth Century

American Crucible: Race and Nation in the Twentieth Century

By: Gary Gerstle (author)Paperback

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This sweeping history of twentieth-century America follows the changing and often conflicting ideas about the fundamental nature of American society: Is the United States a social melting pot, as our civic creed warrants, or is full citizenship somehow reserved for those who are white and of the "right" ancestry? Gary Gerstle traces the forces of civic and racial nationalism, arguing that both profoundly shaped our society. After Theodore Roosevelt led his Rough Riders to victory during the Spanish American War, he boasted of the diversity of his men's origins- from the Kentucky backwoods to the Irish, Italian, and Jewish neighborhoods of northeastern cities. Roosevelt's vision of a hybrid and superior "American race," strengthened by war, would inspire the social, diplomatic, and economic policies of American liberals for decades. And yet, for all of its appeal to the civic principles of inclusion, this liberal legacy was grounded in "Anglo-Saxon" culture, making it difficult in particular for Jews and Italians and especially for Asians and African Americans to gain acceptance. Gerstle weaves a compelling story of events, institutions, and ideas that played on perceptions of ethnic/racial difference, from the world wars and the labor movement to the New Deal and Hollywood to the Cold War and the civil rights movement. We witness the remnants of racial thinking among such liberals as FDR and LBJ; we see how Italians and Jews from Frank Capra to the creators of Superman perpetuated the New Deal philosophy while suppressing their own ethnicity; we feel the frustrations of African-American servicemen denied the opportunity to fight for their country and the moral outrage of more recent black activists, including Martin Luther King, Jr., Fannie Lou Hamer, and Malcolm X. Gerstle argues that the civil rights movement and Vietnam broke the liberal nation apart, and his analysis of this upheaval leads him to assess Reagan's and Clinton's attempts to resurrect nationalism. Can the United States ever live up to its civic creed? For anyone who views racism as an aberration from the liberal premises of the republic, this book is must reading.

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About Author

Gary Gerstle is Professor of History and Director of the Center for Historical Studies at the University of Maryland. He is the author of "Working-Class Americanism", a coauthor of "Liberty, Equality, and Power: A History of the American People", and the coeditor of "The Rise and Fall of the New Deal Order, 1930-1980" (Princeton) and "E Pluribus Unum? Immigrants, Civic Life, and Political Incorporation" (forthcoming).


List of Figures xi Acknowledgments xiii INTRODUCTION CHAPTER 1: Theodore Roosevelt's Racialized Nation, 1890-1900 14 A History of the American "Race" 17 War, Renewal, and the Problem of the "Smoked Yankee" 25 CHAPTER 2: Civic Nationalism and Its Contradictions, 1890-1917 44 "True Americanism" 47 Racial Dilemmas 59 The New Nationalism 65 CHAPTER: Hardening the Boandaries of the Nation, 1917-1929 81 War and Discipline 8 "Keeping Pure the Blood of America" 95 Civic Nationalism in the New Racial Regime 115 Aborting the New Nationalism 122 CHAPTER 4: The Rooseveltion Nation Ascendant, 1930-1940 128 A Kinder and Gentler Nation Builder 131 Radicalizing the Civic Nationalist Creed 139 Conservative Counterattack 156 The Survival of Racialized Nationalism 162 CHAPTER 5: Good War, Race War, 1941-1945 187 The Good War 189 Race War 201 "Something Drastic Should Be Done": The Military's Hidden Race War 210 Combat and White Male Comradeship 220 CHAPTER 6: The Cold War, Anticommunism, and Nation in Flux, 1946-1960 28 War, Repression, and Nation Building 241 The Red Scare and the Decline of Racial Nationalism 246 Racial Nationalism Redux: The Case of Immigration Reform 256 CHAPTER 7: Civil Rights, White Resistance, and Black Nationalism, 1960-1968 268 Civil Rights and Civic Nationalism 270 "I Question America": The Crisis in Atlantic City 286 "Speaking as a Victim of This American System" 295 CHAPTER 8: Vietnam, Cultural Revolt, and the Collapse of the Rooseveltion Nation, 1968-1975 311 A Catastrophic War 313 The Spread of Anti-Americanism and the Revolt against Assimilation 327 The Collapse of the Rooseveltian Nation 342 EPILOGUE: Beyond the Rooseveltion Nation, 1975-2000 347 Varieties of Multiculturalism 349 "A Springtime of Hope": Ronald Reagan and the Nationalist Renaissance 357 Reviving the Liberal Nation 365 Notes 375 Index 439

Product Details

  • publication date: 05/08/2002
  • ISBN13: 9780691102771
  • Format: Paperback
  • Number Of Pages: 472
  • ID: 9780691102771
  • weight: 657
  • ISBN10: 0691102775

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