American History: Connecting with the Past 15th Edition

American History: Connecting with the Past 15th Edition

Author: Alan Brinkley

Publisher: McGraw-Hill


Publish Date: October 8, 2014

ISBN-10: 0073513296

Pages: 1008

File Type: PDF

Language: English

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Book Preface

WHY do so many people take an interest in history? It is, I think, because we know that we are the products of the past—that everything we know, everythingwe see, and everything we imagine is rooted in our history. It  is not surprising that there have been historians throughout almost all of recorded time. It is only natural that we are interested in what the past was like. Whether we study academic history or not, we all are connected to the past.

Americans have always had a love of their own history. It is a daunting task to attempt to convey the long and remarkable story of America in a single book, but that is what this volume attempts to do. The subtitle of this book, “Connecting with the Past,” describes this edition’s focus on encouraging readers to be aware of the ways in which our everyday experiences are rooted in our history.

Like any history, this book is a product of its time. It refl ects the views of the past that historians continue to develop. A comparable book published decades from now will likely seem as different from this one as this book appears different from histories written a generation or more ago. The writing of history changes constantly—not, of course, because the past changes, but because of shifts in the way historians, and the publics they serve, ask and answer questions about the past.

There have always been critics of changes in historical understanding. Many people argue that history is a collection of facts and should not be subject to “interpretation” or “revision.” But historians insist that history is not and cannot be simply a collection of facts. They are only the beginning of historical understanding. It is up to the writers and readers of history to try to interpret the evidence before them; and in doing so, they will inevitably bring to the task their own questions, concerns, and experiences.

Our history examines the experience of the many different peoples and ideas that have shaped American society. But it also requires us to understand that the United States is a nation whose people share many things: a common political system, a connection to an integrated national (and now international) economy, and a familiarity with a shared and enormously powerful mass culture. To understand the American past, it is necessary to understand both the forces that divide Americans and the forces that draw them together.

It is not only the writing of history that changes with time— the tools and technologies through which information is delivered change as well. Created as an integral part of the content of this fi fteenth edition are an array of valuable learning resources that will aid instructors in teaching and students in learning about American history. These resources include:

• Smartbook®—an online version of this book that adapts to each student’s reading experience by offering self-quizzing and highlighting material that the student is struggling with.

• Connect History®—homework and quizzing exercises including map understanding, primary source analysis, image exploration, key terms, and review and writing questions.

• Insight®—a fi rst-of-its-kind analytics tool for Connect assignments that provides instructors with vital information about how students are performing and which assignments are the most effective.

• Interactive maps—more than thirty maps in the ebook and Connect can be manipulated by students to encourage better geographical understanding.

• Critical Missions®—an activity that immerses students in pivotal moments in history. As students study primary sources and maps, they advise a key historical fi gure on an issue of vital importance—for example, should President Truman drop the atomic bomb on Japan?

• A Primary Source Primer—a video exercise with multiple-choice questions teaches students the importance of primary sources and how to analyze them. This online “Introduction to Primary Sources” is designed for use at the beginning of the course, to save valuable class time. In addition to content and scholarship updates throughout, we have added 4 new “Consider the Source” boxed features that explore the topics of family time; wartime oratory; black history; and race, gender, and military service. Our concluding chapter, “The Age of Globalization,” now brings American History up-to-date through the summer of 2014 and includes coverage of the 2008 fi nancial crisis, the rise of the Tea Party, the 2012 election, the Affordable Care Act, and the ongoing federal gridlock.

I am grateful to many people for their help on this book— especially the people at McGraw-Hill who have supported and sustained it so well for many years. I am grateful to Laura Wilk, Rhona Robbin, Art Pomponio, April Cole, Stacy Ruel, Emily Kline, and Carrie Burger. I am grateful, too, to Deborah Bull for her help with photographs. I also appreciate the many suggestions I have received from students over the last several years, as well as the reviews provided by a group of talented scholars and teachers.

Alan Brinkley
Columbia University
New York, NY

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