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The Penguin History of the USA

3.88 of 5 stars 3.88  ·  rating details  ·  330 ratings  ·  32 reviews
This new edition of Brogan's superb one-volume history - from early British colonisation to the Reagan years - captures an array of dynamic personalities and events. In a broad sweep of America's triumphant progress. Brogan explores the period leading to Independence from both the American and the British points of view, touching on permanent features of 'the American char ...more
Paperback, New edition, 752 pages
Published November 1st 2001 by Penguin Books (first published January 1st 1985)
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Community Reviews

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Paul Bryant
America has the world caught in two unbreakable embraces, one soft, exciting, where we all want to stay; and the other militarist, violent, careless of other peoples’ countries. The first is Disney, Hollywood and rock and roll, the second Iraq, Vietnam and Fox News. I may be English to the core, but more than half of everything I read is American; probably three quarters of what I listen to is American, and, I don’t know, 90% of all the movies I watch. And that’s okay, if it wasn’t I wouldn’t do ...more
There is something about the cousinly relationship, the pre- and post-revolutionary national development, the subtle shades of Anglo-Saxon linguistic nuance - heck, the whole I say, old boy, that's a rather marvelous thing you Yanks have got going there - that allows the British to be amongst the best interpreters and recorders of US history, and Hugh Brogan is no exception. There have been some first rate titles in the Pelican—Penguin History series, but this tome surely emerges at the very upp ...more
I am slowly reading this history of America, from its colonial era to 1989. It's actually an easy read because the author, Hugh Brogan, has a sense of humor. He's also British, and almost assumes that his audience isn't American, or thinks about American patriotism with some skepticism, so his perspective is refreshing. Recommended if you're looking for a comprehensive view of American history, or interested in getting an overview of certain moments in the past.
Jaime Wright
Very readable. Personable authorial comments. An interesting portrayal of the United States of America from the outside perspective of a British historian.
James Gillett
I'd describe this book as, well - breathtaking. For anyone with an interest in the USA I would recommend this without hesitation.

There is a lot of ground covered here, with a political emphasis throughout.

Author does a masterful job of telling the history of the USA - can't recommend enough.

Only drawback is that the work stops at the end of the 20th Century. I wonder if the author will ever extend his book up to the George W. Bush presidential era.

A well-written history book, always a pleasant surprise. Brogan is extensive, well-researched, passionate and humourous. A great overview of a book which has to, by its nature, miss out the bits of history that really interest me: the people, the culture, the art. I'm taking it as a baseline and suspect reading Howard Zinn's 'People's History of the United States' will give me a more rounded feel for the country's variety and passions. On the level of national politics, though, it's comprehensiv ...more
Unfortunately I don't own this book because it is such an interesting, different and well written book. It is about the history of the USA before there was even any State or settlement where the continent is now. From before the British went towards the West, together with Germans, Dutch and many more different nationalities and started to set up cities, through colonization, fighting the Indians, searching for independence .... . It tells about wars and provides you with what the thoughts are i ...more
Persephone Abbott
It’s been a long time since I read a concise history book on the United States of America. The last time being somewhere in the muddle of high school where amazingly the history teacher once said referring to the section on Vietnam War while jerking his head in a disgusted manner, “We don’t want to get into that mess,” and then refused to discuss the issue any further. Without a doubt I don’t feel that my old teacher would have had the nerve or knowledge to put forth a rendering of the (long) tu ...more
Following a six-month stay in the US, I had come to realise that I knew next to nothing about American history...I mean, what is the difference between "4th July" and "thanksgiving"? So, I bought this book which I hadn't realised was written by a Limey. I am of this persuasion myself, but the nationality of the author is of no interest to me, only a linear, brief history of the country with as little political bias as possible, starting at the first President, Benjamin Franklin, to present day.T ...more
Lily Loves Indie
A very concise and yet still strangely detailed history of one of the youngest super powers ever to exist. It is an effective and informative text that provides a complete history of the United States, although I must admit I was slightly let down by the lack of detail in later years, from Kennedy onwards. Brogan has a good degree of insight into the events and imparts this in a sometimes comical, but always fair way, never making assumptions unless he had solid foundations. All in all I found t ...more
This stimulating introduction to American history is well-written, provocative and enjoyable. For the most part, Brogan prefers to analyse large-scale themes rather than track key events and battles - as such, there is a luminous comparison of the status of women and slaves in the antebellum South, but no mention of any of the battles of Revolutionary War. The prose flows agreeably, and the book is relatively well-structured, with separate chapters ensuring that certain themes such as the Indian ...more
My best USA history book.
Actually I read already Paul Jhonson's QA history of American people and America the last best choice of John Bennet, but the first one is shamelessly right oriented, and the second... well it's just a lame book.
It took more than three year to finish this book; the style is not easy reading for a foregneir. Besides, it spend (perhaps) too much pages about the colonial period. But when you get used to the style ti explains everything in the best way. I have to download it
This was required reading for my American History class @ FIT-SUNY. It was Fall 2004 - when reading this the Republican Convention protests were fresh in my mind. I felt our founding fathers would be spinning in there graves if they were here now...

An interesting part is the chapter of the religious revival in the 1800's. There was a strong sexual undercurrent also - this helped shape into Mormonism and why they were into polygamy!!!
Ben Rutter
The guy is British, and he isn't a liberal, so the writing is witty and pleasantly unsanctimonious. Still, it's traditional military-political history, and it assumes a familiarity with kings and Pitts that keeps sending me to Wikipedia.
I read this book in conjunction with several other books I read when I took AP US History in high school. This book was a gift and one I read for fun, but it actually helped me with several essays on my AP US History test.
A good one-volume history that helped me to understand why the US is as it is today and gives context to political debates and arguments across the pond that otherwise seem incomprehensible from a European perspective.
I'm up to the Westward Expansion. So far, this is the best US History books I have read. A British author examines broad trends without getting lost in the details and biographical idiosyncracies.
Karen McMillan
It's amazing how much detail he's fit into this little book. Of course, it might have something to do with the tiny print, but it's a wonderful resource for those interested in American History.
very good general introduction to America's history and evolution. a great read for anyone who wants to better understand the mechanics in play in the US's political and social scene
Dec 17, 2007 Moming added it
the best history book about the the U.S. I've ever read. very good writing. covering both general history and interesting anecdotes. not a single dull paragraph.
I will obviously never finish this book but its a great resource and presents the information in a very engaging way. When I want to read history, I will read this.
Tim Dyson
Superb starting point for anyone interested in pre 20th Century America (although does continue to the end of the Cold War).
This is a good read if you are interested in the History of America, it starts from the pilgrim fathers up to the moderen day.
A well-written, concise and absorbing one-volume history. Overall, it's a good introduction to US history.
The textbook for my American History course in college. I plan to re-read some day.
Can't recommend a better concise account of the history of the United States.
May 16, 2009 Alexis added it
The Penguin History of the USA: New edition by Hugh Brogan (2001)
Daniel Horne
The best one-volume history of the USA I've encountered.
Excellent one-volume history. Not for Americans.
Jul 30, 2012 Deborah is currently reading it
Great intro to American history.
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