America the good, America the brave, America the free: reviewing the Oxford History of the United States
Source TitleJournal of American Studies
PublisherCambridge University Press
University of Melbourne Author/sBurnard, Trevor
AffiliationSchool of Historical and Philosophical Studies, Faculty of Arts
Document TypeJournal Article
CitationsBurnard, T. (2011). America the good, America the brave, America the free: reviewing the Oxford History of the United States. Journal of American Studies, 45(3), 407-441.
Access StatusOpen Access
© 2011 Cambridge University Press. Online edition of the journal is available at http://journals.cambridge.org/AMS
With the publication of Gordon S. Wood’s Empire of Liberty, the Oxford History of the United States, first envisioned nearly fifty years ago, has finally reached the two-thirds mark. Seven of its eleven chronological volumes and one thematic volume are now published. This essay reviews these eight works. It would be best to wait until all twelve volumes are published but, given the glacial progress of the series, who can wait that long ? The first volume, Middlekauff’s narrative of the American Revolution, was published in my final year as an undergraduate. The series will not be finished until I reach my late fifties. Individual works, all intended to adhere to the plan initially laid down by the series’s first editor, C. Vann Woodward, that these be narrative histories readily accessible to the educated general public, have met with great acclaim, winning three Pulitzer Prizes, a Bancroft and a Parkman. Each volume, except Patterson’s second volume on contemporary American history, is hernia-inducingly heavy, containing between 736 and 1,035 pages. The total number of pages so far produced is 6,570, of which 5,215 are text. If we assume that each of the next four volumes comes in at over eight hundred pages, then the series will amount to ten thousand pages of narrative on the prehistory and history of the United States.
KeywordsAmerican politics; history; politics; economics; American studies
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