cover image Grand Expectations: The United States, 1945-1974

Grand Expectations: The United States, 1945-1974

James T. Patterson, Author Oxford University Press, USA $40 (880p) ISBN 978-0-19-507680-6

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.)