These Yale colleagues have excellently converted a college textbook into a concise, readable history, reminding me of narrative historians Ray Billington and Doc Sonnichsen. Their take is a fair, if mildly revisionist, look at the good and bad of our past.
Conservative readers may be annoyed by the authors’ less-than-neutral handlings of the IWW Wobblies, the safety-valve idea of Easterners escaping west from depressions and today’s illegal Mexican immigration issue. Following the multiple Wests, our advancing frontiers from the Appalachians to the Pacific, the authors note how long it took the West to grow out of a colony of the economically-powerful East. This is solid history, but not of the leaden academic brand. The complicated story of “us” moves along at a good clip. —Richard H. Dillon