cover image The Reckless Decade: America in the 1890s

The Reckless Decade: America in the 1890s

H. W. Brands. HarperCollins Publishers, $25.95 (750pp) ISBN 978-0-312-13594-2

The decade of the 1890s is quite compelling; it represents the high flowering of an older, quaint America together with social, political, and intellectual trends that would move the nation rapidly into the modernity familiar to us today. Brands (history, Texas A&M) has produced a workmanlike survey of the period, concentrating on traditional economic and political topics. The familiar emphases include labor strife, slum life, the robber barons, and the Spanish-American War. Readability (and research value) would have been enhanced by greater concern for intellectual and social issues. Emergent communication and transportation technologies, the purity and temperance movements, and the changes in popular entertainment are valid scholarly topics that would have added interest. Brands's book will be useful as a term-paper source but will probably not attract many general readers.-Fritz Buckallew, Univ. of Central Oklahoma Lib., Edmond