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September 29, 2010 1:37 PM   Subscribe

Is there a book, or books, that cover a similar scope to Andrew Marr's A History of Modern Britain, but with a focus on the USA?

The extent of my ignorance of US history was made clear to me when reading about Bush's attack ads on Dukakis, and the (apparently) famous tank photo. It's all fascinating, and I want to read more on the big turning points in modern history. Can anyone recommend a good book? Bonus points if it's available on Kindle.
posted by liquidindian to Education (7 answers total) 9 users marked this as a favorite
People's History of the United States?
posted by a.steele at 2:15 PM on September 29, 2010

Sorry, if you're in the UK, this might be a better link.
posted by a.steele at 2:22 PM on September 29, 2010

Best answer: The Oxford University Press has put out a series of books on US history from pretty much soup to nuts. I haven't read all of 'em, but the two that I have read (Battle Cry of Freedom and What Hath God Wrought) have been nothing short of amazing, and I understand they're widely respected, as well, so you may want to look into the a volum on 1945-1974, and the one on 1974 - Bush v. Gore.

All available on Kindle for good measure.
posted by joyceanmachine at 2:25 PM on September 29, 2010

Argh! Forgive the hideous number of typos. Am trying to do too many things at once.
posted by joyceanmachine at 2:47 PM on September 29, 2010

Zinn's a polemicist. Not saying you shouldn't read him, just saying that as your first introduction, he's carrying a lot of tendentious freight along with. Or if you are going to go that way, read the relevant chapters of, say, a Paul Johnson's A History of the American People (available on kindle) as a counterweight. Goes down smooth, at any rate.

Mind you, seems from the reviews that Marr's pretty opinionated as well, so maybe that is what you're looking for. It's tough, American history telling is getting more and more polemical these days. Or so it seems.

Strange country, America.
posted by IndigoJones at 4:47 PM on September 29, 2010

Response by poster: joyceanmachine - Those look perfect. Thank you.

As for Zinn, that's definitely something for the future. I need to build up some preconceptions first, though, before he can challenge them...
posted by liquidindian at 1:42 AM on September 30, 2010

"Battle Cry of Freedom" is the Civil War Book To Read If You Only Read One Civil War Book. And I would trust their other books based on that alone.

I agree that Zinn has *cough* a definite viewpoint...but I can't really think of an alternative.

Stephen Ambrose has his own flaws, but he's very readable -- and he's written about the railroads, Lewis & Clark, and other big attractions in American history.
posted by wenestvedt at 7:09 AM on September 30, 2010

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