Winner of the 1997 Bancroft Prize in History^L Named an Outstanding Academic Book of 1996 by Choice
James T. Patterson is Ford Foundation Professor of History at Brown University.
Patterson (history, Brown Univ.) successfully puts into context the events of a tumultuous 30-year period in U.S. history. Among the tools he uses to do this are an extensive bibliography and ample footnotes and statistics. His focus is on political events and his emphasis is evenly divided between foreign and domestic issues. The main recurring themes are civil rights (and what Patterson calls "rights consciousness") and the containment of communism. It was a period of prosperity that made this rights revolution possible, even though prosperity failed to enable the United States to impose its values throughout the world. More than a summarizer of headline stories, Patterson is judgmental about all characters and issues but is generally evenhanded in his assessments. His work explains the history of the times of the baby boomer generation and could become the definitive work on the era. Recommended for all collections.‘Gary Williams, Southeastern Ohio Regional Lib., Caldwell
James Patterson has provided a tour d'horizon which unusually is also a Tour de force ... Grand Expectations is an exceptional achievement. There can be little doubt that the volume will become the standard single text on the period. THES A sweeping, meticulous synthesis of 30 years, from unique prosperity and influence to uncertainty and social fragmentation. New York Times Book Review a superb study of the United States from the Truman presidency, when Americans held unbounded expectations about themselves and their country to the cynicism and division when Nixon resigned ... stimulating and highly enjoyable Pascal Donohoe, The Irish Times
In a continuously challenging, stirring history of postwar America, Brown University history professor Patterson charts Americans' ever-widening postwar expectations about the capacity of the U.S. to create abundance and opportunity. Spurred by the civil rights movement's egalitarianism and idealism, many groups‘including labor unions, feminists, Native and Hispanic Americans, farm organizations, the poor and the elderly‘engaged in a ``rights evolution'' that peaked in the mid-1980s amid political backlash, economic stagnation and barriers of class and prejudice. A corollary theme is the souring of the widespread belief that the U.S. had the economic and military means to control the behavior of other nations. Bursting with shrewd analyses and fresh assessments of people and events (McCarthyism, the Beats, the growth of suburbia, Vietnam, etc.), Patterson's primarily political but also cultural and social history gores both liberal and conservative sacred cows. He blames John F. Kennedy's personal approach to foreign affairs for escalating tension with the Soviet Union. And he describes Nixon as ``a very humorless, tightly controlled man'' who set the FBI to destroy the Black Panthers and who ``put in 12- to 16-hour days, in part because he was unable to delegate authority.'' (Feb.)