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American Crucible: Race and Nation in the Twentieth Century
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American Crucible: Race and Nation in the Twentieth Century

3.68  ·  Rating Details ·  116 Ratings  ·  9 Reviews
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 nationali ...more
Paperback, 472 pages
Published August 25th 2002 by Princeton University Press (first published April 1st 2001)
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Sep 21, 2015 Jim rated it really liked it
Virtually every issue we deal with as a country is, at its base, influenced by our view of national identity, and the nature of citizenship. Many authors have looked at this topic from a number of different perspectives. Gary Gilroy in Black Atlantic gave us a transnational view of black identity which transcended the borders of the nation-state. Benedict Anderson in Imagined Communities: Reflections on the Origin and Spread of Nationalism talks about imagined communities bound together by limit ...more
Joseph Stieb
May 16, 2015 Joseph Stieb rated it really liked it
Although I don't quite agree with every aspect of Gerstle's tidy argument, this is an impressive and thought-provoking history of the intertwined and competing notions of race and identity in 20th century US history. Gerstle argues that there are two traditions of American nationalism that compete and to some extent intermingle: civic nationalism and racial nationalism. Civic nationalism is the idea that the American nation has a longstanding liberal creed (individual rights, economic competitio ...more
Nov 07, 2011 Heather rated it really liked it
Shelves: history
Two conflicting notions of nationalism have shaped American identity during the twentieth century: a civic nationalism founded on equality and the preservation of rights and a racial nationalism in which the population is held together by common blood. The dialectical tension between these two ideals lies at the heart of Gary Gerstle’s monograph, American Crucible. Much like E. J. Hobsbawm’s analysis of the development of democratic and ethnic nationalism in the European context (Nations and Nat ...more
Mar 14, 2013 Jela rated it really liked it
Gary Gerstle, professor of History at the University of Maryland and author of many works in the area of American Studies, such as Liberty, Equality and Power has written a comprehensive history of the evolution and the dichotomy of American nationalism in his book American Crucible: Race and Nation in the Twentieth Century. Gerstle argues that two distinct and opposing forms of American nationalism, the “civic” and the “racial” contribute to the shaping of American history and that each of the ...more
A good general overview of race, ethnicity and immigration during the 20th Century.
Aug 15, 2008 Ashley rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: students, historians
Recommended to Ashley by: professor
This book is very interesting though I found it a little sprawling-- it is really two books in one (in my mind anyway). I liked the analysis of how racial politics has changed the way Americans consider civic nationalism and what being civic minded actually means in the US.

I didn't know too much about Roosevelt's vision for America before I started and "American Crucible" made me realize just how critical he was for setting up some of the major debates in 20th Century politics.

Highly recommended
Mar 24, 2009 Jack rated it liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
An interesting, but ultimately disappointing history of the myth of the melting pot in America. One learns that the crucible of the title had room for only some Americans, mainly whites of a certain kind and that people of color or other ethnic origin had a wholly different experience in 20thC America. The history from the 60's to the present is glossed quickly and to me was wrong in many instances.
Jul 25, 2011 Karen rated it really liked it
Great text for studying race and immigration relations in the US. Starts with Teddy Roosevelt and progresses through the modern era.
Aug 07, 2013 Amreet rated it it was amazing
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