May 01, 12
Read from March 19 to May 01, 2012
Unfinished Nation to be sure is an excellent survey of American history from our most tentative explorations of this new continent to the War on Terror and invasion of Iraq. Written as a textbook for US History honors and even entry level college courses it's full of impeccable research and clear narrative voice that makes the tread over familiar ground both enjoyable and informative. What sets Unfinished Nation apart from its counterparts is that it's mostly a social and political history, rather than the one great man and time-place histories that we are all so familiar with. As a result the narrative is told through movements and periods rather than a chronological trudge through history from one event to the next, which isn't for everyone. Also, dispersed throughout the chapters are some asides of important events like the civil rights movement, examining different historical perspectives and showing that history isn't something written stone, but is actively debated and altered when new data and ideas become more readily accepted. At the end of each chapter is a summary and an extensive reading list covering the topics mentioned in the chapter, sure to balloon an history buffs wishlist.
I originally picked this book up as a quick and easy way to familiarize myself with the early American history topics I hope to cover soon, but I found myself unable to stop reading into the events I thought I had little or no interest in and to learn more. The one negative I have is that the last chapters cover the last twenty years or so, which isn't as big a problem for the early 90's, but I think it's still too early to tell what the real impacts of the information age and what the 21st century has reaped so far. History too close to the actual event stinks of bias. Other than that I really enjoyed this somewhat extended survey of American history.