The Reckless Decade: America in the 1890s

Reviews with Integrated Context

Books You May Like

The Reckless Decade: America in the 1890s

Author: H.W. Brands
Publisher: University of Chicago Press
Copyright: 1995
Pages: 390

Enter a word or phrase in the box below

A period every bit as turbulent as our own age, the 1890s saw vast changes in the economy, politics, and society of the United States, while giving birth to a technological revolution that would profoundly alter the lives of all Americans. Those who knew how to exploit this new world - Carnegie, Morgan, Rockefeller - prospered handsomely; those who did not became icons of how the other half lives. The chilling violence of the Homestead steelworkers' strike and other labor conflicts underscored the tension that such disparity produced. The economic elite ensured that the currency of capital would remain gold and not free silver, yet technology transformed everyday life as alternating current began to light the nation.

That new frontier came just when the Western one on which America prided itself closed. No longer could America expand internally; imperialism was the way of the future. But even as the United States became a colonial power, Jim Crow laws ensured that only whites could reap the harvest of empire. In The Reckless Decade, Brands captures the essence - whimsical, tragic, and intrinsically contradictory - of the 1890s, when for the first time America turned its face outward to the world and geared up for the "American Century." Evocative and fascinating, this remarkable book looks back over that amazing time and, in the telling, teaches us much about ourselves and our own reckless decade.

Click for the original review.

Background Information

Andrew Carnegie immigrated from Scotland and grew enormously rich in the steel business, which he sold to JP Morgan to devote himself to philanthropy. J.P. Morgan was a banker equally at home in the refinement of London financial circles and the rough and tumble of American industry. John D. Rockefeller went from humble beginnings to become the richest man in America by consolidating his hold on the production and refining of petroleum through Standard Oil. Jim Crow laws were designed to deny their civil rights in the South, either directly or by indirect consequences.