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U.S. History

( 19 reviews )

Multiple Authors, OpenStax

Pub Date: 2015

ISBN 13: 9781938168369

Publisher:
OpenStax

Language: English

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Reviewed by Beth Fowler, Senior Lecturer, Wayne State University on 12/2/18

Overall, this is one of the most comprehensive and engaging textbooks I have ever read! The vast majority of events, issues, and themes that I introduce in class and want my students to think about were covered, or at least introduced. The way the… read more

Reviewed by Beth Fowler, Senior Lecturer, Wayne State University on 12/2/18

Comprehensiveness
    rating: 4     see less

Overall, this is one of the most comprehensive and engaging textbooks I have ever read! The vast majority of events, issues, and themes that I introduce in class and want my students to think about were covered, or at least introduced. The way the book integrates histories of underrepresented groups, for instance–especially those of Native Americans, African Americans, and women–are, with few exceptions, intertwined with the rest of the historical record rather than presented as separate “niche” subjects. One major exception is that the experiences of enslaved peoples during the Middle Passage, in Northern areas, and even in the South prior to the Civil War, are largely overlooked. Slavery is consistently mentioned as a political issue, but students are not really introduced to people’s lived experiences until Chapter 12, which focus entirely on plantations in the Deep South leading up to the Civil War.
The book also does a great job of presenting the United States within a global framework. This begins right from the start, as the American colonies are examined within the context of European power struggles, and the creation of racialized chattel slavery is presented as the result of political and religious struggles among European nations, and with the Middle East and Africa. This excellent global context continues with Southern struggles during the Civil War linked to the English decision to purchase cotton from India rather than engage with a rebellious nation, and in the chapter on World War Two, which does a much better job than most texts of explaining the road to war in Germany and Italy.
Two places where the historical record seems oddly confined to the United States are the various sections on labor movements and on immigration in the late-19th and early-20th centuries. Although the book does a good job of examining the many branches of labor politics in the United States (including the Communist Party’s support of civil rights), I was surprised that it did not contextualize these struggles by discussing similar movements in Germany, Italy, and England. Indeed, clearer references to Karl Marx’s writings as a whole would be helpful, especially given the lack of knowledge so many students have about Communism and other forms of Leftist politics. Similarly, the sections on immigration do a great job of explaining what life was like for people once they came to the United States, and how their cultural traditions impacted the United States in early 20th-century America. But students so often assume that people made this journey for “a better life” or strictly for economic purposes that it would help to make clear the war and discriminatory policies in Ireland, Italy, Russia, and the Ottoman Empire that informed people’s decisions.
I really appreciated the last two chapters, which look at recent history, especially since it is often so difficult to teach. I often find that historical patterns are not yet obvious, but these chapters do a great job of identifying some of the connections back to major themes, particularly how September 11 set into motion many current challenges, and the entire section on “New Century, Old Disputes.” Section 31.2, which includes a look at the War on Drugs and the Road to Mass Incarceration, is also an exemplary way to get students to think about current problems, but could be expanded by including a look at Stop-and-Frisk programs and the rise in privatized prisons.

Accuracy
    rating: 4

Overall, the book’s historical accuracy is very high–I had few complaints with the content, even in areas, like the civil rights movement, that my own research focuses on. The connections that the book makes between several themes are particularly well done. An explanation of how corruption and neglect in Gilded Age-politics led to demands for reform during the Progressive Era, for instance, really helps students understand how change occurs, while the G.I. Bill is presented not only as a catalyst for a growing middle class in post-World War Two America, but as a means of systematically reinforcing racial segregation by working with racially-discriminatory banks, insurance offices, and school admissions departments. Although the HOLC and FHA should also be mentioned to let students know how the Federal government ensured racially-segregated housing patterns, these connections, along with a look at how Japanese Americans re-entered society after being forced into internment camps during the war, really help students see the limits of democracy during this period.
There are a few particular areas that do need clarification or revision, however. Woodrow Wilson receives a fairly traditional treatment as a “liberal” president whose “enlightenment” led him to support the suffrage movement and global democracy, while his entrenched racism and sexism is overlooked. A few characterizations of Henry Ford are also inaccurate, although I may be particularly sensitive to this, being from Detroit, and often teaching Urban Studies classes. Not all workers received five dollars a day–the process for approval was actually strenuous and intrusive–and black and white workers were almost never paid equal wages. Finally, Ford only implemented fair working hours because the AFL had fought for this for years, and he did not want workers to unionize.
Finally, 28.4, which looks at 1950s culture, was excellent–this is my particular area of research specialization, so I was thrilled to see an examination of teenage culture and consumerism, as well as explanations of how rock and roll music broached the color line during the civil rights movement. As much as I appreciate the subject’s inclusion, however, the section puts too much emphasis on white rockabilly performers and Alan Freed, when black R&B artists and independent radio stations were just as crucial in creating and popularizing this music.
Finally, the student and anti-war movements are covered quite thoroughly–I have never seen a textbook acknowledge ERAP and JOIN before!–and I particularly loved how the text parallels the connection between abolitionism and the suffrage movement with how the women’s movement was shaped heavily by the civil rights movement. The one thing missing from this section is an examination of COINTELPRO–students should be aware of the fact that the federal government was responding to this movement in harmful ways, and what many activists were up against when they fought for these causes.

Relevance/Longevity
    rating: 5

The book’s focus on consumer and popular culture is very engaging, and in keeping with social and cultural historical trends. The chapter on advertising, for instance, explains how “access to products became more important than access to the means of production,” which draws students in while simultaneously explaining a massive shift in how people related to the economy. One of my favourite sections in the entire book (as well as the accompanying primary source website link) is about Yuppie culture in the 1980s. It engages students who are currently intrigued by the fashion and culture of this time period, but is not so self-aware that it becomes dated. The summary indicating how Reaganomics hurt many vulnerable people while allowing yuppies to prosper puts this cool and fun examination into broader and more crucial historical perspective.
The only caveat here is that a few of the links connect to articles that, while timely now, could become dated in the future. But since this is an open text, instructors could link to new articles if they so choose.

Clarity
    rating: 5

One of the book’s best features is that many sections begin by reiterating prior information to provide context for what is to come. In section 28.5, for instance, the Double “V” campaign and the G.I> Bill’s reinforcement of redlining in urban areas are both re-stated as framing mechanisms for civil rights struggles in the 1950s. Students do not necessarily remember the information they read about in prior weeks, or are able to see how one thing leads to or causes another. I love how this structure not only reminds students of what they have previously read, but shows how history does not occur in a vacuum, and that flow exists from week to week, and year to year. This is how I try to structure my classes, asking students for context at the start and end of each session, so it is ideal that the book is set up this way.

Consistency
    rating: 5

As previously stated, many sections begin by reiterating what has been learned earlier. Most chapters are broken down into political, social, and cultural issues, with particular examinations of distinct identity groups. Most presidents are given a brief biography and discussion of their importance within particular historical periods. And the country’s global significance, while not evident in each chapter, is prominent enough that it may be deemed consistent throughout the text.

Modularity
    rating: 5

I actually used this review as an opportunity to break down reading assignments for next semester’s class, and was pleased to discover that this was fairly easy to do. With the exception of Vietnam (which is discussed throughout three chapters rather than in one), separate chapters line up quite well with particular classes, and where they do not, they are broken down by sections fairly easily. Within sections, the text is nicely broken up by images with captions and/or analytical questions, brief primary documents with follow-up questions, and links to outside materials. It was fairly easy to get through each section since paragraphs tended to focus on narrow subjects, and were almost always followed by alternative sources and questions to immediately reflect on the text.

Organization/Structure/Flow
    rating: 4

Overall, the book is very clear. Chapters are mostly divided in a way that mirrors my class syllabus, and the text maintains a clear historical thread of cause and effect throughout. There are a places, however, where the subject matter crops up in an odd place. An examination of life among enslaved people is confined mostly to the chapter preceding the outbreak of the Civil War, for instance. Even though slavery is discussed as a political issue throughout almost all of the preceding chapters, waiting until this point in the book to include a look at people’s lives may mislead students into thinking that slavery only existed on Southern plantations, or that people did not begin resisting until the eve of the Civil War.
The section on the Great Migration is also in a weird spot. The text introduces this topic in Chapter 19, which spans from 1870 to 1900, when migration patterns really did not begin to shift until World War One. It makes sense to identify push factors for migration at this point in time, but it would have made more sense to move the actual section to the chapter on World War One. Redlining is also mentioned in this section, which is again odd since this was not introduced until the 1930s.
I actually liked how the text divided sections on the Vietnam War among three different chapters–doing so may help students understand this war’s long history, as well as its many shifts under three different administrations. This is not how I teach my class, though–I usually devote a class or two to Vietnam alone. This is not unmanageable, since students will have been prepared for discussion by the time we get to the war, but I am not sure how much of it they will remember by this point.
Finally, section 31.2, which focuses on the growth of the New Right, should come earlier, and be expanded to include a deeper look at the culture wars, especially how abortion became a focal point. The brief mention included here does not quite do enough to explain Reagan’s political ascendancy.

Interface
    rating: 5

Another of the book’s best attributes are the many online links to primary sources, museum and government websites, artwork, and articles. I was planning on assigning a primary source reader to complement this book, but I think I will instead try to make use of these links. One of the major problems I have is getting students to complete assigned readings so that we can engage in discussion. Even if students do complete the readings, they often forget what they read about, or did not engage deeply enough to really analyze them. Having students examine the Federal Slave Narrative database, new immigrant oral histories from the Library of Congress, or exhibits at the National Cowboy Museum, however, may engage their interests, be completed more rapidly online, and also be useful for in-class activities.
The only issue with these links is that, after clicking on them, you cannot navigate back to where you were in the text. I started opening links in a separate tab instead, so this is not much of a problem, but I could see students getting frustrated if they do not think to do so.

Grammatical Errors
    rating: 5

No glaring errors.

Cultural Relevance
    rating: 4

This book does an excellent job of intertwining the stories of underrepresented groups throughout U.S. history. The first chapter is a great example–it goes into much greater detail about the lives and traditions of distinct American tribes than I have seen in any other textbook. The book also presents events that have been obscured because of their effect on people of colour, like the police shooting at Jackson State College, alongside similar events, like the shooting at Kent State, to underscore how the race of those involved affects how we remember them. Overall, cultural competency is not merely an attribute of this book–it seems to have been a defining feature right from its inception.
The one group that does not receive this treatment throughout most of the book is people who identify as LGBTQ. Sexual and/or gender identity is not even mentioned until the section on McCarthyism, and even then only for a brief moment. Subsequent sections on the Stonewall uprising, the Gay Rights Movement, AIDS and ACT UP, and the Defense of Marriage Act are far more detailed, but they seem to come out of nowhere for students if the actions and contributions of LGBTQ people are not mentioned in earlier chapters.

Comments

Overall, this was a comprehensive and entertaining book–I actually enjoyed reading most sections, and even learned new things about a subject I have been teaching for years. The outside links, images, and primary source excerpts make this an ideal book for teaching from all perspectives. Most importantly, the book presents the histories of women, African Americans, Native Americans, and other underrepresented groups as inextricable to the nation’s story as a whole, and examines culture and everyday life almost as closely as larger political and economic shift. I am very excited to assign this book to my students!

 

Reviewed by Brian Leech, Associate Professor, Augustana College on 11/19/18

Periods: Overall, good work by the authors. The text does fairly well with the pre-European contact period, although I’d still prefer more attention to North American Indians. The text is not unusual in this respect. It also would sure be nice if… read more

Reviewed by Brian Leech, Associate Professor, Augustana College on 11/19/18

Comprehensiveness
    rating: 4     see less

Periods: Overall, good work by the authors. The text does fairly well with the pre-European contact period, although I’d still prefer more attention to North American Indians. The text is not unusual in this respect. It also would sure be nice if the authors paid a bit more attention to areas west and south of the growing United States before they join the U.S. proper. We get good tales of why and how they join the union, but not much about what happened there before. Chapter 20 does cover populism fairly well, although it neglects recent scholarship on how important populism was in the mountain West, not just on the prairie/plains. Chapter 21: good coverage on progressivism overall, even if conservation seems a bit underplayed by the authors. I quite liked the split in the period of the Great Depression—starting with Hoover’s administration in chapter 25, followed by FDR in chapter 26. Hoover and his administration get more fleshed out in this way than in typical textbook coverage of the Depression.
Themes: The key political events gain effective coverage. Although political history clearly serves as the organizing factor of this book, it does, at times, do well with social life—the urban life of chapter 19 being a good example. Race is dealt with properly as an important driver to many key events. Women’s lives also gain a decent place in the text, even if there are a few times when we get “women” sections (e.g., page 177, page 490). I’d rather have women more integrated into the narrative. The topics of work, workers, and socio-economic class show up when you’d expect them to. There are a few really effective moments when the textbook considers environmental history (the “selection of hats for the fashionable gentleman” on page 306 is a nice example), even if I’d personally prefer there to be even more attention to the theme. Unfortunately, by the time we get to chapter 29 (the 1960s), politics starts to dominate coverage more and more so that by chapter 31 (the 80s and 90s), it’s essentially all politics. I’d like more attention to other areas of American life–social, cultural, even environmental–in these later periods.

Accuracy
    rating: 5

As a historian, I reject the idea that anything, including a textbook, can be “unbiased” (don’t we all hold biases?), but, yes, this textbook does a nice job of trying to look at the topics accurately and it is essentially error-free. A good example is the violence in the wild west section of chapter 17, which provides a nicely balanced view coming out of recent scholarship.

Relevance/Longevity
    rating: 5

Yes, the textbook does a good job at tackling many topics with the use of the latest scholarship. I’d actually prefer if it was more up front about what kind of scholarship it’s using when, but that’s more of a pet peeve I have with all textbooks.

Clarity
    rating: 5

The text is well-written. Many sections are actually quite effective, even gripping, for a textbook. There are other times when it heads more into a bit drier textbook style, but it’s still always easy to read, quite accessible to the average reader.

Consistency
    rating: 5

The overall format of each book chapter is strong and includes well-written summaries of the key messages for each chapter at the end.

Modularity
    rating: 5

Yes, the textbook is easy to break up into sections so that they can be assigned at different points in the term. I’ve never thought it a good idea to have a book that doesn’t refer back to or build upon earlier materials in the book (wouldn’t that give the narrative more drive?), so I’m actually not sure “modularity” is a good aspect to a book.

Organization/Structure/Flow
    rating: 4

Overall, this textbook follows the format of many previous textbooks–it’s clear why each choice is made. There are a few periodizations that I found unusual—like westward expansion from 1800-1860 in chapter 11, then westward expansion, 1840-1900 in chapter 17. Given the overlap between the two periods, I’m not exactly sure why the authors decided on those breaks (certainly the issue of free soil versus slavery expansion is a good reason, although there’s much more in chapter 11 than those topics). I do very much appreciate the fact that the American West doesn’t just get confined to a single chapter, which happens in most other textbooks.

Interface
    rating: 5

Nice “click and explore” elements, like the link to “virtual Jamestown” or the erie canal map, for instance. I’d like to encourage future editions to do even more work at providing links to documents, maps, and other elements that would enliven the text. Why not make the online accessibility of an OER textbook a way to truly standout from other textbooks?

Grammatical Errors
    rating: 5

Great work!

Cultural Relevance
    rating: 5

The textbook does well with race throughout. Gender is also dealt with fairly well.

Comments

The short selections from primary sources are a nice touch. I’d actually like more of them as a way to break up the big chunks of narrative text.

 

Reviewed by Kathleen Pannozzi, Assistant Professor of Educational Studies, Rhode Island College on 6/20/18

This US History text is certainly comprehensive. In its 32 chapters all phases of the development of the American nation are addressed. In some cases there are multiple chapters on one era. The period of 1760-1790 is explored in chapters 5, 6… read more

Reviewed by Kathleen Pannozzi, Assistant Professor of Educational Studies, Rhode Island College on 6/20/18

Comprehensiveness
    rating: 5     see less

This US History text is certainly comprehensive. In its 32 chapters all phases of the development of the American nation are addressed. In some cases there are multiple chapters on one era. The period of 1760-1790 is explored in chapters 5, 6 and 7. Additionally the ante-bellum period is discussed in chapters 11, 12, 13 and 14. There are a variety of primary sources embedded in the text, as well as maps and other illustrations.

Accuracy
    rating: 4

By checking throughout the text, I found no glaring inaccuracies. The discussion of some issues, like the controversy over European’s horrific actions in the New World, reflect good scholarship. However, the section on the US and the European Holocaust is assigned to “Further Reading”. Also, a discussion of the Fred Korematsu case about Japanese Americans being interned during WW 2, does not get sufficient exposure. Is this inaccuracy? Perhaps this is more about comprehensiveness, but it needs to be addressed.

Relevance/Longevity
    rating: 5

With any history text, there is always the question of updating after a period of a few years. The nature of this text would be easily updated with an addenda that addressed recent events. The very nature of an OpenStax source like “US History” allows for reworking of the basic text either by an individual teacher, or if needed, by the original authors/editor.

Clarity
    rating: 5

This is an eminently readable text. After many years (over 40) of reading history texts and teaching from them at both the secondary and college levels, I found this book both accessible and clear. There are not overly long sentences or awkward descriptions that tend to numb the attention of the reader.

Consistency
    rating: 5

Despite the fact that multiple authors are listed as contributors to this text, there is a consistency throughout the text regarding its framework. The use of primary sources, which are embedded into the text and the questions at the end of each section are very helpful. The summary at the start and finish of chapters are also an excellent feature.

Modularity
    rating: 5

From my perspective this text lends itself to the kind of modularity that I need in my college freshman course. I am not teaching a survey, so it is essential that the book be easily divisible into not only chapters, but in some cases, sub-headings within chapters. In the introduction, this modularity is made clear!

“Because our books are openly licensed, you are free to use the entire book or pick and choose the sections that are most relevant to the needs of your course. Feel free to remix the content by assigning your students certain chapters and sections in your syllabus, in the order that you prefer. You can even provide a direct link in your syllabus to the sections in the web view of your book.
Instructors also have the option of creating a customized version of their OpenStax book. The custom version can be made available to students in low-cost print or digital form through their campus bookstore. Visit your book page on OpenStax.org for more information.

Organization/Structure/Flow
    rating: 5

This text is well organized. Moreover, considering its modularity, it allows any instructor to create their own structure. If an instructor wants to consider a theme like human rights – philosophy, development, legalization and abuses of those rights in the American story- they can do this with ease.
The inclusion of so many “extras”, like links to sources, puts students at a distinct advantage. The richness of this text far surpasses other US History texts I have used in the past.

Interface
    rating: 5

My review of this text indicates that there are no significant issues with navigating its various features such as maps, photos, and relevant primary sources. In fact, the links embedded in the online version make exploring primary sources both easy and convenient. The location of maps, charts, other images or features are appropriately located to increase access and understanding.

Grammatical Errors
    rating: 5

Reading through many sections with an eye to error is a common practice of mine after many (47) years of teaching. I am surprised by its grammatical accuracy, which is an important quality when reaching students and hoping to assist them in their own communication skills.

Cultural Relevance
    rating: 3

Generally speaking, I am pleasantly surprised by the culturally inclusive nature of this text. For example, there is a good explanation of the US internment of 120,000 Japanese and Japanese Americans starting in 1942. However, there is no solid description of the horrendous war against Philippine Independence which the US waged for close to 14 years (1900-1913). The only reference in the stories of WW 2 to the US refusal to assist Jews fleeing Europe in the 1930s and 1940s is in one source in “Further Reading”. For me, that is not sufficient.

Comments

Like many other general US History texts for college courses, this text is both sufficient and makes a good effort at representing a wide variety of important and controversial issues Its features make for an adaptable textbook for a particular focus within a course. However, I find certain holes concerning what I would call the darker side of US history, like my mention of the scarce coverage of the Philippine-American War and the rather hidden account of the failure of American government to help rescue those fleeing from Hitler.
Despite these “holes”, it is a text I would adopt for my freshman level US History course!

 

Reviewed by Arlene Reilly-Sandoval, Associate Professor, Colorado State University-Pueblo on 2/2/18

This text covers Pre-Colombian U.S. to the 21st Century. It is comprehensive in that it covers not just the major wars or conflicts, but also the industrialization, struggles of indigenous populations, and the development of a nation. This book… read more

Reviewed by Arlene Reilly-Sandoval, Associate Professor, Colorado State University-Pueblo on 2/2/18

Comprehensiveness
    rating: 5     see less

This text covers Pre-Colombian U.S. to the 21st Century. It is comprehensive in that it covers not just the major wars or conflicts, but also the industrialization, struggles of indigenous populations, and the development of a nation. This book has both a breadth and depth of information.

Accuracy
    rating: 4

This text appears accurate and unbiased. It does describe situations from different viewpoints, including racial, ethnic, and religious populations.

Relevance/Longevity
    rating: 4

This book definitely has longevity. It might need more chapters added throughout the years, or some edits based on new information about the past, but it appears to have made a strong effort to describe history from other viewpoints and not just the western European viewpoint.

Clarity
    rating: 5

This book is fairly easy to read and written in a way that most students will no problem understanding.

Consistency
    rating: 5

The book is consistent in describing different viewpoints and the historical record. It strives to be culturally competent while imparting important information about historical events.

Modularity
    rating: 5

This book contains 32 chapters, which can be reorganized and allows for a selection of specific chapters as needed. It appears to be very adaptable into modules.

Organization/Structure/Flow
    rating: 5

The book is primarily presented in chronological order, which makes the most sense for a history book. The authors do look at several aspects of history, from a social, economic, political, and culture viewpoint, which makes it very interesting. History is a topic that usually taken by students who are history majors or who must take a history general education course. This book contains information that would interest students from several different majors because of the breadth of information.

Interface
    rating: 5

No major navigation problems, even when clicking links for more information within the chapters. The images and links serve to pique interest rather than distract from the information provided.

Grammatical Errors
    rating: 5

The book is well-written and understandable. I did not notice glaring grammar or typographical errors.

Cultural Relevance
    rating: 4

One of the strengths of this book is that it attempts to address the viewpoint of different cultures, or at least describe non-European cultures and history. The links provided in the text direct the student to additional information.

Comments

I enjoyed reading this book! It reminded me of some historical facts I had forgotten and I was pleased to read about different indigenous populations in a historical context.

 

Reviewed by Jonathan Rees, Professor of History, Colorado State University – Pueblo on 2/2/18

It’s comprehensive, but the depth of coverage is uneven. There is far more detail on the pre-1945 period than the post-1945 period. In the earlier period, the same years are (rightfully) covered in multiple chapters. In the post-1945 periods,… read more

Reviewed by Jonathan Rees, Professor of History, Colorado State University – Pueblo on 2/2/18

Comprehensiveness
    rating: 3     see less

It’s comprehensive, but the depth of coverage is uneven. There is far more detail on the pre-1945 period than the post-1945 period. In the earlier period, the same years are (rightfully) covered in multiple chapters. In the post-1945 periods, whole decades only get half a chapter. With respect to kinds of history, it’s very good in giving race and gender sufficient attention.

Accuracy
    rating: 4

Generally good. I have some problems with the chronologies in some cases, like running the Progressive Era up to 1920,

Relevance/Longevity
    rating: 4

It reflects the last twenty or so years of scholarship very well in its inclusiveness. Personally, I don’t feel the need to cover presidential elections in this depth, but I understand the decision.

Clarity
    rating: 4

I think it is written well. I worry about students trying to read long blocks of uninterrupted text on their computers, though.

Consistency
    rating: 3

It’s not. I mentioned the post-1945 split. Another problem is the tendency to start the early chapters in different years, particularly subjects like the West that begin well before 1877. I know some second half survey classes begin in 1877 and some in 1865, but I’ve never heard anyone starting in 1870. In a large department where the starting dates need to be clearly defined, this would be a problem.

Modularity
    rating: 5

I never thought about modularity as a thing before, but yes I do think they’ve done a good job with that. I’d be more likely to extract and mix sections of this text than assign the whole text itself because some parts of this text are just lovely. The 1920s chapter, for instance. The maps are also really, really well-done.

Organization/Structure/Flow
    rating: 2

Here I have serious problems. I mentioned dating problems in the early chapters and the speed with which post-1945 decades are dispensed. I’d add a few chapter divisions. Breaking up Populists and Progressives is just never done elsewhere. Limiting the Depression decade to 1932 is also unheard of elsewhere. I really hate the fact that the 1980s and 1990s are crammed into one chapter too. And then, most of the material there is political.

Interface
    rating: 4

Perhaps the print is a bit small in .pdf, but then again I didn’t bother to try to fix it. I might gather more pictures for the later chapters (despite copyright issues) just to break up the text more for students.

Grammatical Errors
    rating: 5

I didn’t notice any issues.

Cultural Relevance
    rating: 4

It’s mostly very good. A very nice balance of race, class, gender and more traditional historical issues. This changes though after the 1960s as the more modern organizational ideas are what get passed over in the latter chapters.

Comments

As you may have noticed by now, I concentrated exclusively on the post-1877 chapters because that’s the period I teach. It should be an absolute no-brainer to break this up into two separate .pdf files because every single university I’ve ever encountered breaks US history up into two courses broken somewhere in the later half of the nineteenth century. Even if a student wanted to take both halves, there’s no assurances that they’d get the same teacher assigning the same open textbook. Save the students the trouble of downloading half a huge file they won’t need!!!

 

Reviewed by Morten Bach, Associate Lecturer, Ohio University – Zanesville on 2/2/18

The text certainly aspires to be comprehensive with thirty-two chapters moving from the pre-Columbian context to Barack Obama’s second term. For the most part, it compares favorably to the commercial text I’ve been using in my U.S. history survey… read more

Reviewed by Morten Bach, Associate Lecturer, Ohio University – Zanesville on 2/2/18

Comprehensiveness
    rating: 4     see less

The text certainly aspires to be comprehensive with thirty-two chapters moving from the pre-Columbian context to Barack Obama’s second term. For the most part, it compares favorably to the commercial text I’ve been using in my U.S. history survey in recent years. For the 20th century – the area with which I am most familiar – the text seems well-balanced and without glaring omissions. The most important exception to that rule is the chapter on World War II. The section on pre-war neutrality ignores much of the debate over intervention. The discussion of the Pacific War mentions the naval component of that conflict, but barely. It mentions kamikaze (attacks) without explaining what they were. It discusses the atomic bomb missions in detail (down to secondary targets), but merely alludes to the massive conventional bombing campaign. Similarly, there is no mention of the air war against Germany at all. Beyond WWII, elements of the Cold War such as propaganda get short shrift as does the issue of Berlin past the blockade in the late 1940s. The latter seems like a detail but becomes a potential source of confusion when the Berlin Wall shows up (obviously symbolic, but unexplained) at the end of the 1980s.

Accuracy
    rating: 4

In the parts of the text that pertained most directly to my area of expertise, I found the text to be generally reliable and accurate on matters of fact. I did find a couple of exceptions: In the section on “The American Dream,” massive retaliation is conflated and confused with Mutual Assured Destruction which, in turn, is wrongly attributed to Eisenhower. In the following chapter, President Kennedy’s health problems are incorrectly attributed to his wartime service. The latter point is trivial, the former easily fixed.

Relevance/Longevity
    rating: 5

Given its broadly chronological organization and the absence of a particularly strident or controversial perspective, this text should be relatively easy to update. The final chapter is exactly the kind of insta-history that will likely need constant attention.

Clarity
    rating: 5

The text is quite good on this point. The writing is clear and accessible throughout. The text is free from excessive jargon and usually provides a clear definition of unfamiliar terms. For the most part, titles of chapter sections have sensible and self-explanatory titles.

Consistency
    rating: 4

In general, the text is consistently organized in thematic chapters within a general chronology. There is a notable (and odd) exception with the 1960s where the “presidential synthesis” seems to sneak in with John F. Kennedy and Lyndon Johnson. There’s a lot of Hoover in the Depression, too. The reason for those emphases isn’t clear.

Modularity
    rating: 5

The text appears relatively easily divided into reading assignments that could be used in isolation. Frequent subheadings and brief sections should facilitate the process.

Organization/Structure/Flow
    rating: 5

The organization is fairly conventional for a survey text of this kind. Nothing seems obviously out of place within the general organization of the text.

Interface
    rating: 5

I only looked at the e-book, using a desktop PC and a tablet. I had no problems navigating the text or using the various links. Images and other graphics appeared as expected.

Grammatical Errors
    rating: 5

Here, too, the text seemed most problem-free. There were no obvious grammatical problems. Typos, too, seem rare. I noticed only a couple: George Percy is misidentified as “Henry” in the section on early Jamestown and West Berlin’s Tempelhof Airport is misspelled as “Templehof” in a picture caption of the section dealing with the Berlin Blockade.

Cultural Relevance
    rating: 5

I did not find the text insensitive or offensive. Like most other recent texts with which I am familiar, it strives to present a variety of perspectives.

Comments

Overall, I was pleasantly surprised by this text. In the right kind of setting, I think it could be a very useful alternative to existing commercial texts. It’s obviously meant for an introductory-level student in search of an overview, not for advanced students focusing on some particular subject or era.

On that note, though, I would like to add that the principles behind the selection of “further readings” is anything but clear to me. In the section “World War, Cold War and Prosperity,” there is one volume on the Ruhr Crisis of the 1920s, two popular works on Ronald Reagan, a memoir by a Russian ambassador, six books on World War II, one volume tangentially related to prosperity, a memoir of the Montgomery Bus Boycott and a book on Richard Nixon’s campaign against Helen Gahagan Douglas. If there’s some sort of selection criterion at work here, I am not sure what it is.

 

Reviewed by Leah Hagedorn, Professor of History, Tidewater Community College on 8/16/17

This promising textbook would benefit from greater comprehensiveness and greater depth. The book is easily searchable. In considering the text for community college use, at least twenty percent of community college students have disabilities and… read more

Reviewed by Leah Hagedorn, Professor of History, Tidewater Community College on 8/16/17

Comprehensiveness
    rating: 2     see less

This promising textbook would benefit from greater comprehensiveness and greater depth. The book is easily searchable. In considering the text for community college use, at least twenty percent of community college students have disabilities and it would have been wonderful if the authors had incorporated more disability history into the text. Too, the book needs more intellectual history, with fuller coverage of republicanism, for example. More attention to the history of the development of technologies would broaden the appeal of this text to twenty-first century students.

Accuracy
    rating: 4

I hope that in subsequent revisions the authors will do more with American isolationism.

Relevance/Longevity
    rating: 5

This text appears easily updateable.

Clarity
    rating: 4

This text is clearly written, although some word choices (for example, “tripwire”) will be unfamiliar to twenty-first century students.

Consistency
    rating: 5

The text is internally consistent.

Modularity
    rating: 5

The modularity will be helpful to those who need small reading units.

Organization/Structure/Flow
    rating: 4

The text is clearly organized.

Interface
    rating: 1

The interface needs improvement for accessibility; the free versions need variable line spacing and enlargeable fonts (features that the free PDF didn’t offer).

Grammatical Errors
    rating: 5

The book is clearly written.

Cultural Relevance
    rating: 2

The text needs greater coverage of people with disabilities as historical actors and more attention to the experiences of members of immigrant groups.

Comments

This work, particularly if revised, has the potential to replace many U.S. survey texts. It needs more people; the text seems to offer a bird’s eye view of U.S. history. It would be wonderful to have more accounts of individuals whose experiences embody historical movements and moments. The linked resources are well-chosen but marginalize digital divide students.

 

Reviewed by Matthew Whitlock, Adjunct Instructor, Tidewater Community College on 8/16/17

The textbook is very comprehensive, covering pre-contact to the 21st Century in 32 chapters. The authors provide thorough details in 1052 pages. Providing some additional primary sources into some of the chapters would be great. read more

Reviewed by Matthew Whitlock, Adjunct Instructor, Tidewater Community College on 8/16/17

Comprehensiveness
    rating: 5     see less

The textbook is very comprehensive, covering pre-contact to the 21st Century in 32 chapters. The authors provide thorough details in 1052 pages. Providing some additional primary sources into some of the chapters would be great.

Accuracy
    rating: 5

The textbook is accurate and unbiased. It is well-balanced and relatively error-free.

Relevance/Longevity
    rating: 4

Focusing primarily on the last two chapters, the textbook is written in a way that updates might not be easily implemented. I worry that with the constant changes in technology and terminology, the author(s) might have to re-write the final chapters.

Clarity
    rating: 5

The text is clear and presented at a high-school and college level. The key terms in each chapter help with the terminology that some might find challenging. The problem still exists with new terminology that rarely appears in the text.

Consistency
    rating: 5

The text is very consistent. I believe that students will be able to quickly adapt to the textbook’s setup.

Modularity
    rating: 5

The text is easily divisible and I like the available navigate bar.

Organization/Structure/Flow
    rating: 5

The text is structured well and has a great flow chronologically.

Interface
    rating: 5

I found no problems with the interface of the text. The hyperlinks used in the text are a great addition.

Grammatical Errors
    rating: 5

I could not find grammatical errors in the text.

Cultural Relevance
    rating: 5

I believe the text is respectful and inclusive. Again, I worry about the terminology.

Comments

This is an excellent OER text for the introductory U.S. History classes at the college or university level and for an upper-level high school U.S. History class. A few more primary sources would not hurt the text.

 

Reviewed by Tom Nejely, Instructor, Klamath Community College on 6/21/17

I am reviewing this text from the viewpoint of a community college survey course, whose students may or may not be at college level writing. This population has certain needs and behaviors that influence the way I’m going to review the text…. read more

Reviewed by Tom Nejely, Instructor, Klamath Community College on 6/21/17

Comprehensiveness
    rating: 4     see less

I am reviewing this text from the viewpoint of a community college survey course, whose students may or may not be at college level writing. This population has certain needs and behaviors that influence the way I’m going to review the text. Student requests for an OER text have become overwhelming just in the last year and a half. However, they have made it clear that a good text must have certain things:
1. ease of navigation. If they have to scroll, they won’t use it.
2. It must be “used.” That means assignments, quizzes, or tests must cause them to open the text and refer to certain parts while taking or preparing for the assignment/quiz/test.
3. Students will generally not use the text on their own motivation to come prepared for class.
4. It needs to be interesting. Students would rather spend 3 hours Google searching rather than just 15 minutes reading a boring text.

About this text’s comprehensiveness: It is a very traditional text modeled on many editions that I have sitting on my shelves. Its focus is very clearly on Europe and the “lower 48.” Therefore, America’s role in the 19th century westernizing of Japan, conquest of the Hawaiian islands, or any mention of the international grab for imperial dominance around the Pacific is/are missing. If an instructor wishes to expand the horizons of the class, this text will not be sufficient. On the other hand, that’s an opportunity to have students reach further abroad for sources instead of just one textbook.

Is the text comprehensive enough to be useful? Yes, with some caveats that include a limited number of primary sources, a tight focus on the lower 48 and a lack of a global viewpoint. That doesn’t mean its a poor book, it’s just on the instructor to know what supplementation they’ll need.

The “click and Explore” function in each section is worth mentioning. If an instructor sets this up right, these can be very useful class or group projects. I liked exploring them, but not enough for them to be self-motivating.

Accuracy
    rating: 5

I didn’t find the same degree of inaccuracy that other reviewers refer to. I find it – appropriate to the student population I deal with – reasonably accurate, error-free, and unbiased.

Relevance/Longevity
    rating: 4

For this comment I read with interest the last sections of the text which are the most modern. The author(s) present the war on terror matter-of-factly, and do not mention the concerns of privacy and surveillance that have arisen. Since this is an ever-increasing issue, and the current generation of students is entirely focused on their electronic devises, this lack means that the end of the text will become rapidly insufficient.

Clarity
    rating: 3

Baby boomer historians have fallen into an unfortunate trap: they write in a language that the next generation doesn’t speak. There is an abundance of language that renders many textbooks inaccessible to students, and this text is no different.

Consistency
    rating: 5

Very consistent. Once students and faculty have become accustomed to what the text has to offer, they are good to go.

Modularity
    rating: 5

The text does in fact divide easily and the navigate bar on the left makes things work very well.

Organization/Structure/Flow
    rating: 4

Clear enough; I didn’t notice it. The absence of annoyances means it will work adequately for a class.

Interface
    rating: 5

The interface works well once the reader understands the need for an initial click to enable the sidebar navigation tool.

Grammatical Errors
    rating: 5

I didn’t find any editing problems that would interfere with student learning.

Cultural Relevance
    rating: 4

For this comment I looked specifically at the South before the Civil War and the Civil Rights movements of the 60s sections. These narratives were stock-in-trade so far as I could tell avoiding most insensitivities or offensiveness. the civil rights section focused almost exclusively on the African-American experience. Some mention of the Mexican-American movement was made, but the Amerindian experience is completely missing.

Comments

This is basically a traditional text that will need instructor creativity and thoughtfulness to make it into an effective learning experience for students. It does not at all pretend to be global in its perspective. I found the chapter end review questions to be disappointing and any instructor should not rely on these to help students learn. Its navigation is easy to use, once a reader understand the need for the initial button click that enables the left side bar.

 

Reviewed by Thomas Woodhouse, Instructor, Riverland Community College on 6/21/17

This textbook is comprehensive. It covers events from pre-1492 through the last years of President Obama’s administration. It looks at social, economic, cultural, political, racial, gender and military history, and it often goes beyond those… read more

Reviewed by Thomas Woodhouse, Instructor, Riverland Community College on 6/21/17

Comprehensiveness
    rating: 5     see less

This textbook is comprehensive. It covers events from pre-1492 through the last years of President Obama’s administration. It looks at social, economic, cultural, political, racial, gender and military history, and it often goes beyond those few categories.

It covers topics in more depth than most other history texts. For example, the book spends much more time on the background history leading up until the European conquest of the New World than is common in other textbooks.

It has a good index and glossary as well as a good review section at the end of each chapter.

Accuracy
    rating: 5

I found no factual inaccuracies in the text.
As for interpretation of events, the authors are very thorough in looking at events from many different perspectives. For example, though the authors interpret the Mexican-American War as a war of aggression by the United States, they, nevertheless, include a good discussion of why the United States went to war and even include a discussion of the American claims of the Rio Grande River as the border with Mexico. I have read few other survey texts that include that later information.
As with any text, one can quibble with interpretations and with the choices of which information to include and which to exclude. For example, in discussing the reasons for the Japanese surrender in the Second World War, they discussed the dropping of the atomic bomb but did not mention the impact of the Soviet declaration of war on Japan in the final days before the surrender.
With interpretation of events, the book overs very little to criticize and much to praise.

Relevance/Longevity
    rating: 5

The book is fresh but is not faddish. It will have a long shelf-life and can easily be updated should the need arise.

Clarity
    rating: 5

The authors write in a clear style that should be accessible to the average college student.

Consistency
    rating: 4

The book is consistent in its use of terminology.

Modularity
    rating: 5

The authors have a sound division of chapters which will make the book easy to break up into smaller teaching units.

Organization/Structure/Flow
    rating: 5

The book is well organized and has a nice flow. The authors usually stick to a chronological approach, but they sometimes step away from that organization and look a a single subject over a longer period of time than is covered in any one chapter.

Interface
    rating: 5

The authors have many hyperlinks built into their book that will take the reader to much more information than is included in the actual text itself.

Grammatical Errors
    rating: 5

The text is well written. William Strunk Jr. would be pleased with the books elements of style.

Cultural Relevance
    rating: 5

The text is very inclusive.

Comments

This text is a gem. I will use it in all my survey U.S. history classes.

 

Reviewed by John Haymond, Adjunct Instructor of History, Riverland Community College on 6/21/17

I was most interested in the portions of this text that dealt with events from mid-19th century to the First World War, but I still read through sections bracketing that date range. In its aim to cover the entire sweep of American history from… read more

Reviewed by John Haymond, Adjunct Instructor of History, Riverland Community College on 6/21/17

Comprehensiveness
    rating: 4     see less

I was most interested in the portions of this text that dealt with events from mid-19th century to the First World War, but I still read through sections bracketing that date range. In its aim to cover the entire sweep of American history from before European contact to the 21st century, this text is ambitious. So broad a scope, however, pretty much guarantees one of two outcomes — either the book will be so long and ponderous in its attempt to cover all the worthwhile history that it would be simply too bloated to use; or, it will have to settle for incomplete discussions of major events while completely skipping over relatively minor ones. In the case of this text, the second outcome is clearly the result. It touches on the highlights of U.S. history without ever really engaging in the sort of deep contextual discussion that truly engages with the history it is discussing. That being said, however, this text still serves as an accessible, clearly written introduction to the big picture questions of American history. It will not serve as a detailed examination of particular eras of that history nearly so well.

Accuracy
    rating: 3

Speaking specifically of this text’s treatment of American westward expansion, the period of frontier conflict with Native Americans, and the latter half of the 19th century, I found it to be highly problematic. In simplest terms, this text’s discussion of European American — Native American conflict is one-dimensional, overly assumptive, prone to bias, and shallow. A student with no other knowledge of American frontier history would likely come away from this book thinking that the conflicts between Indians and whites were always precipitated by white settlers and “militias,” a term the text seems particularly fond of using. Quote: “Although the threat of Indian attacks was quite slim and nowhere proportionate to the number of U.S. Army actions directed against them, the occasional attack—often one of retaliation—was enough to fuel the popular fear of the ‘savage’ Indians. The clashes, when they happened, were indeed brutal, although most of the brutality occurred at the hands of the settlers.” Several problems with this sort of writing immediately strike me. First, it is not accurate. A straightforward tally of simple numbers — the incident rate of Indian depredations vs. army actions — would lead to a markedly different conclusion (the annual returns of the army departments of the western territories 1866-1890 make this very clear, as do reliable secondary sources such as Robert Utley, Edward Coffman, Peter Cozzens, etc.). Second, it castigates the U.S. Army without ever acknowledging the fact that the army itself was on record as frequently stating that settler fears of Indian threat were exaggerated and overblown. Third, it makes declarative conclusions on controversial history without ever presenting any source evidence in support of those conclusions. It is, frankly, a far too one-dimensional depiction of a very complex period of American history. In rejecting the European-American biases of older histories of U.S. expansion, it errs on the other side of the coin by resorting to inaccurate over-generalizations. There is a notable lack of balance in this text’s handling of this particular history, an assessment which is also supported by the books listed in the “Further Reading” section pertaining to this chapter — the cited texts are mostly of a particular slant. There are some excellent compendiums of primary source materials which would offer students a chance to gain both historical context and personal insight into the events discussed so summarily in this text, some of which would actually support the textbook’s conclusions but provide ample historical evidence in the process.

Relevance/Longevity
    rating: 4

As history, the material is written in language that will probably not be outdated anytime soon. The perspectives are, for the most part, worded in such a way that they will not fall out of scholarly fashion in the next few years. Organized as the text is, any changes or additions to the material would probably be very easy to implement.

Clarity
    rating: 3

The narrative here is extremely accessible, not needlessly academic in tone, language, or style, and easy to follow. I would say that this makes it a very good text for first or second year college history students. At the same time, there were sections where I felt the writing was almost too simplistic. Not a problem of dumbing-down, by any means, but neither was there much depth or challenge in it. Ideally, a history text should be accessible enough to allow students to engage with its material, but also written so as to challenge their preconceptions (if they have any), stimulate their analytical thinking, and encourage further exploration. This text, I feel, fails on the first point, is not sufficiently robust to meet the second point, but does have the potential to achieve the third point.

Consistency
    rating: 5

I found the writing, organization, and presentation of the text to be very consistent throughout the book.

Modularity
    rating: 5

Very easy to navigate, with sections and sub-sections all clearly delineated and easily found. Starting with the table of contents, the organization of the text made it very simple to move through the entire book without disorientation.

Organization/Structure/Flow
    rating: 4

As is true of most history books, this text is laid out in chronological order, with the events of one chapter leading to those in the next. While this is a time-proven method that is undeniably user-friendly and good for students who may not yet be ready for more complicated scholarly writing, it does leave me feeling that it is a little too simplistic for detailed examinations of the subject or for analytical discussion.

Interface
    rating: 5

I did not find any navigation problems at all. All images were clear.

Grammatical Errors
    rating: 5

There were no grammatical errors of any kind that I noticed. The writing style itself was perhaps far too passive-voiced, but that’s an entirely different matter.

Cultural Relevance
    rating: 3

If there is a fault with this text in this particular area of assessment, it is that it is so determined to be culturally sensitive and inoffensive to the traditionally maligned / marginalized / mistreated groups (Native American peoples, in particular) that it swings too far to the other extreme and has a tendency to make broad, sweeping generalizations about white American society that are themselves far too broad to ever be completely accurate. Castigating an entire race or ethnicity without citing specifics is always problematic, no matter which race or ethnic group is being painted with the broad brush. That being said, I think the text does a good job of trying to include elements of the stories of almost all quarters of American society in the eras it discusses. The problem is that its approach is too one-dimensional and overly broad to allow for real discussion of these different perspectives.

Comments

I think this text would be particularly useful for an introductory course in American history that is geared toward first or second year students. It is not deep enough, nor intellectually robust enough, to serve as a text for more advanced studies of American history.

 

Reviewed by Kurt Kortenhof, History Instructor, Saint Paul College on 4/12/17

The US History text is organized into 32 chapters that adequately present an outline of American history from pre-contact to 2014. The book is also easily adaptable to the two US History survey structure most colleges and universities follow…. read more

Reviewed by Kurt Kortenhof, History Instructor, Saint Paul College on 4/12/17

Comprehensiveness
    rating: 5     see less

The US History text is organized into 32 chapters that adequately present an outline of American history from pre-contact to 2014. The book is also easily adaptable to the two US History survey structure most colleges and universities follow. While no two instructors will agree on the level of detail aspects of US history should receive, this text does to a nice job of presenting a useful narrative supported by ancillaries that include: brief chapter timelines, sidebars (Americana, Defining America, and My Story), images, maps, web links, section-level objectives (that correspond to lower level of Bloom’s Taxonomy), bold-faced key terms, section summaries, and objective and essay review questions.

The appendices include: The Declaration of Independence, The US Constitution, Presidents of the US, a political and topographical map, a population chart, and a list of suggested readings. In all, the appendices offer significantly less than many traditional US History textbooks provide.

The text also includes a glossary with hyper-links to the terms’ mention in the text. The glossary is, however, significantly less robust than many other textbooks provide.

Accuracy
    rating: 5

The text reflects a middle-of-the-road contemporary interpretation of US history. I did not see any glaring factual errors in the text (nor would I expect to). I think that people can argue about the balance and emphasis of any text, but I thought overall this book is balanced. Having said that, in places I did question the emphasis of certain aspects of the interpretation. For example, in discussing the home front during World War I, a lot of space is devoted to discussing those who opposed the draft and the ramification of doing so, while little was mentioned of the overwhelming support of the war illustrated by a general compliance to the selective service act (and other factors).

Relevance/Longevity
    rating: 5

This book is current as of 2014. Like any history text that runs up to contemporary times, the last chapter of the book will need to be continually updated.

Clarity
    rating: 4

I thought the writing in the text is one of the strong points. Although the writing is broken up by ancillaries, headings, and subheadings an engaging narrative still drives the book. The book is easy to follow and has a nice flow to it.

The text is written at what appears to me to be a higher reading level than the book I am currently using (Faragher, OUT OF MANY – Brief edition). Because I teach in an open-enrollment community college environment, this might present challenges for me and others teaching in a similar environment.

Consistency
    rating: 5

I did not note any changes in writing styles of significant variations in chapter length (although like all textbooks, some chapters are a bit longer than others). I also thought that the ancillaries brought a consistency to the text from chapter to chapter.

Modularity
    rating: 4

I do think that the authors do a nice job providing context where needed to allow students to pick up in 1877 and make sense of the content. Further, many of the chapters or sections can stand on their own if an instructor wanted to assign parts and pieces of the text.

I did notice that this books appears dense in places and there are multiple examples of pages of text not broken up by images or interactives. In this sense, my current text does a nice better job of providing a presentation that is not intimidating for students.

Organization/Structure/Flow
    rating: 4

For the most part the text is logically organized and well suited to work for institutions that split the US survey in 1877. The first 16 chapters run from pre-contact to Reconstruction, while the remaining 16 chapters run from 1877 to 2014. If your course is split in 1865, as it currently is at my institution, the chapter organization presents a problem with 15 chapters in the first half of the survey and 17 in the second half. If we adopt this book, we will likely adjust our survey courses so they splint in 1877.

At the chapter level, the content is organized into the 32 chapters in a logical fashion for the most part. There are, however, some curiosities. The most puzzling to me is the treatment of Manifest Destiny. While the text does discuss 1840s expansion in chapter 11: “A Nation on the Move: Westward Expansion, 1800-1850,” nowhere in that chapter is the term Manifest Destiny introduced even though it was coined in connection with a debate to annex Texas in 1845 (which is addressed). Later in chapter 17: “Go West Young Man! Westward Expansion, 1840-1900,” the term Manifest Destiny is introduced and rightly – although briefly – associated with the acquisition of Texas. The issue is that this mention comes in a chapter that falls in the second half of the course and not associated in the section of the course that covers the 1840s (a period more commonly associated with the concept of Manifest Destiny in US history). Further, students using the index to search for “Manifest Destiny” are taken to Chapter 17, and not chapter 14.

Additional aspects of the organization that I question include: separating out the Revolutionary War into a separate chapter from the larger Revolution, and dividing the treatment of the Great Depression into a chapter focusing on the Hoover administration and one focusing on Roosevelt’s New Deal.

The organization within chapters is driven by well-designed sections and subsections and will, in my opinion, serve students well. I did think it is odd, however, that the chapters have introductions that sit before and outside of the chapter sections, but no conclusions.

Interface
    rating: 2

By far the most disappointing aspect of this text is the interface. Students can view the text online, as a PDF, or download an iBook for a minor charge. I reviewed the interface in all three versions of the text and feel that the iBook version offers the best user experience, but one that still falls below basic expectations. Here are a couple of frustrations:
• Key Terms: while the iBook offers pop-up definitions to bold-face key terms, the PDF and online version do not. To find the pull-out definition in these other formats, students must scroll to the end of the chapter.
• Images and Maps: More disappointing are the images, cartoons, and maps. In most cases the images are too small to see important details. In the online and PDF versions of the text, they cannot be expanded. In the iBook version students can click to expand the images by 50% – but it only stretches the image and makes it less legible. While the authors have selected useful political cartoons, the images are reproduced in such a way that make it impossible to students to read the text to fully understand the messages. Two of many examples of this short coming are: figure 11.19 (page 328) and figure 12.18 (page 363). An example of a map that cannot be read at all, see figure 23.16 (page 682).
• Look and Feel: The look and feel of this text is bland and will not compare well to other fee-based print or online textbooks. Further, it may feel dated and clunky to our students who are often times use to slick, interactive interfaces in other aspects of their lives.
• Interactives: Beyond the chapter review questions (of which only ½ have answers), and the option to be launched into content-related web sites, there is no interactivity in this text.

On the positive side, students are able to highlight section of text in both the PDF and iBook version of the text. Additionally, the iBook version offers its standard functionality that allows readers to create note cards.

Grammatical Errors
    rating: 5

I did not notice any grammatical issues.

Cultural Relevance
    rating: 5

This text does a nice job of reflecting a relatively current and inclusive interpretation of US history. In all places where I expected to see inclusive discussions, I found them.

Comments

I think that the cost saving students will realize with this book are significant and clearly the most compelling reason to adopt this text. Doing so, however, brings some draw backs and perhaps challenges for our students.

 

Reviewed by Gerd Horten, Professor of History, Concordia University–Portland, Oregon on 2/16/17

The coverage of this textbook is very comprehensive. The 32 chapters are very similar to many other textbooks which are commercially available, and they are well suited for two-semester and three-term surveys of US history. Especially in the… read more

Reviewed by Gerd Horten, Professor of History, Concordia University–Portland, Oregon on 2/16/17

Comprehensiveness
    rating: 5     see less

The coverage of this textbook is very comprehensive. The 32 chapters are very similar to many other textbooks which are commercially available, and they are well suited for two-semester and three-term surveys of US history. Especially in the opening chapters, the textbook also provides a helpful global perspective on the developments and factors influencing the conquest and the settlement of the Americas as well as the American Indian cultures and societies already in existence. The wide-angle lens of this narrative does a fine job in terms of contextualizing especially early American history, but the textbook very ably and comprehensively covers later historical eras as well.

Accuracy
    rating: 5

The textbook provides an accurate and rather well-balanced portrayal of US history. This attempt to objectively reflect American history comes through in a few ways. For one, the portrayal of post-World War II and especially also post-1960s movements is presented in a fair and even-handed manner. In addition, the many opportunities to dig deeper in sections such as “Click and Explore” or “Americana” highlight various angles and perspectives on important historical events and developments.

Relevance/Longevity
    rating: 4

The authors of the textbook make a concerted effort to connect historical events and developments from the past with current-day concerns and controversies. Thus, a section on “environmental changes” is seamlessly inserted in early colonial history (Chapter 3) and the controversies surrounding slavery are connected to developments in colonial consumer society (Chapter 4). The document selections also do a valiant job in terms of connecting past and present in similar ways. More such synthesis segments might further enhance the overall strength of this textbook.

Clarity
    rating: 5

The writing is very accessible and clear. There are few overly long sentences, and the use of language and terminology seems well within the range of most undergraduate students. Every chapter in addition concludes with a section of key terms which will help to identify and explain some of the most important concepts and the most challenging terminology. A section of review questions at the end of each chapter allows students to instantly check their understanding of the most important material covered in the respective chapters.

Consistency
    rating: 4

As in most textbooks, some chapters are clearly stronger and more in-depth than others, which is often dependent on the areas of specialties of the authors. This textbook is no exception to this general rule. For example, issues of gender and race are covered more comprehensive in the chapters surrounding the American Revolution (Chapters 5 & 6) than in the chapters leading up to the Civil War. Also, while many chapters are thematically centered, some topics in modern US history, such as the Vietnam War, is interspersed over several chapters (Chapters 28-30). While certainly defensible in its approach, this might provide somewhat of a challenge for many lower-level undergraduate students. But in general, the chapters are dealt with in a very even-handed and consistent manner.

Modularity
    rating: 5

The division of the chapters and sub-headings is very clear and appropriately handled. In addition, as mentioned earlier, the number of chapters and sub-divisions will align very well and smoothly with most survey courses. Chapters 1-16 cover the first half of the survey up through the Civil War and Reconstruction Era. The second 16 chapters move all the way up to the election and presidency of Barack Obama (up until 2014). I think the book is also rather effective in concisely covering postwar US history in seven clearly written chapters. If one were to follow this textbook outline, chances of reaching the 21st century would greatly increase, which is something most instructors (including yours truly) struggle to accomplish.

Organization/Structure/Flow
    rating: 5

The textbook is very clearly and effectively organized, and central topics are clearly identified in the headings as well as the sub-headings of each chapter. I think that the textbook also clearly identifies specific watersheds, such as the years 1774/75 in terms of the lead-up to the American Revolution (Chapters 5 & 6). In addition, especially the antebellum chapters are thematically divided in a clear manner. which seems appropriate especially for such topics as the beginning of the Industrial Revolution and the reform movements of the early 19th century (Chapters 9-13).

Interface
    rating: 5

The interface works very smoothly and effectively. The hyperlinks in particular allow for quick detours and explorations, which lend themselves either for in-class discussions, homework assignments or starting points for small research projects. I think this online version and the ease of clicking and connecting to bonafide websites and historical information might further encourage students to distinguish more clearly between useful and less useful internet sources.

Grammatical Errors
    rating: 5

The textbook is very well written. I have to admit that I did not read every word of it, but I did not detect grammatical errors in the sections which I read or surveyed.

Cultural Relevance
    rating: 4

The textbook makes a very valiant effort to be culturally relevant. There are no offensive or culturally insensitive segments which I noticed. It does use the term “American Indian” rather than “Native American”, which might deter some instructors from using it, but the authors also provide a very well-reasoned rationale for the choice. In addition, similar to most textbooks, women, American Indians and other racial minorities are highlighted in specific chapters, but this coverage is not carried through for all chapters in an even manner (which is admittedly very difficult to accomplish). I think the textbook deserves relatively high marks in terms of cultural relevance.

Comments

This is a very strong textbook overall and certainly can compete with those that are commercially available. The ease and frequency of the “Click & Explore” and the “Americana” sections as well as the documents inserted between sub-headings provide ample opportunities for additional study and exploration. I also think that the condensed post-World War II chapters provide a helpful road map for instructors who attempt to reach more recent decades of American history in their survey classes–and maybe even venture into the 21st century of US history by the end of the final course.

 

Reviewed by David Jamison, Visiting Assistant Professor, Miami University — Middletown on 8/22/16

At 1052 pages, "U.S. History" is nothing if not comprehensive. Maybe comprehensive to a fault. Although it fulfills its duty as a history textbook by including fairly detailed recountings of events (with some exceptions to come), the editors are… read more

Reviewed by David Jamison, Visiting Assistant Professor, Miami University — Middletown on 8/22/16

Comprehensiveness
    rating: 4     see less

At 1052 pages, “U.S. History” is nothing if not comprehensive. Maybe comprehensive to a fault. Although it fulfills its duty as a history textbook by including fairly detailed recountings of events (with some exceptions to come), the editors are guilty of including large chunks of information in the precolonial and colonial eras that are tangential at best to the story of U.S. History. One example is the entirety of Chapter 2. It’s called “Early Globalization in the Atlantic World,” but it’s not. The entire chapter is largely background information on contemporary European political and cultural history in order to give us context for when we later read about what was happening in the Americas.

Accuracy
    rating: 3

There were some glaring inaccuracies, mostly concentrating in the section on “West Africa and the Role of Slavery.” The text mentions that “West Africa . . . was linked to the rise and diffusion of Islam.” This statement is wildly vague and inaccurate. How can a region be “linked” to a religion that doesn’t reach it until the 8th Century? Are the editors not aware of the rise of the pre-Islamic Nok civilizations and their terra cotta figures and ironworking? The state of Ghana likewise exploited the gold-for-salt trade using Berber and Tuareg intermediaries before Islam had made it to West Africa. And what of the powerful non-Muslim states of West Central Africa, Kongo and Angola? Do they not merit a mention?

A few sentences down, the text claims “Until about 600 CE, most Africans were hunter-gatherers.” This sentence was actually flabbergasting. The Agricultural Revolution hit West Africa at least as early as the second millennium B.C.E., and the Bantu peoples began their spread from Cameroon to over the entirety of southern Africa — bringing agriculture and iron-working technology — soon after, eventually replacing the hunter-gatherer culture of southern Khoisan speakers. There were large groups of people who were hunter-gatherers in 600 CE to be sure, as there large groups of pastoralists, but this sentence seriously decontextualizes the actual on-the-ground reality.

There are more. In the very same paragraph, to say that “Sub-Saharan Africans had little experience in maritime matters. Most of the population lived away from the coast, which is connected to the interior by five main rivers” robs the teacher of the chance to teach students about the Liberian-area Kru people, who ferried African American colonists back and forth from the coasts because their ships couldn’t face the rocky shore. And this would be a direct tie-in to American history. Of course there were hundreds of groups who lived near the ocean, but there was never economic or population-pressure motivation to explore transoceanic exploration. Suffice it to say, the research on this section left quite a bit to be desired and is in need of a general rewrite. I would say that this is one of the book’s more immediate concerns. The following section on African slavery, however, is excellent, particularly the connection between the construction of race with slavery. Although a section on parallel social institutions among Amerindian groups and on serfdom in Europe in this chapter would give the chapter more overall thematic balance.

Much as the text gives too much primacy to the role of Islam in the construction of political and cultural cohesion in West Africa, it gives too little credit to Muslim culture in the contribution it made to European culture, particularly the Renaissance, in its treatment of the events in sections 2.1 and later in the flowering of the Enlightenment in section 4.4. It ignores how the Moors brought algebra and Greek and Roman philosophy back to Europe, which led to the Enlightenment. This is inaccurate in that it gives students a warped view of the role Islamic culture has played in American culture.

The text calls the Dutch Republic “Holland” on page 50. Holland was but one province in the Netherlands, although people of the time called the Dutch Republic “Holland” in the same way some people think Manhattan is “New York City.”

I was very impressed that the book gave the definition of the word “slave” on page 15. That is a rarely mentioned but important history.

Relevance/Longevity
    rating: 4

The text is largely up-to-date, using the most accurate terminology for its historical referents. It uses the word “tribe” rather carelessly,(p. 16) though, without going into the history of that term, given that it was used by European anthropologists to (often inaccurately) classify and compartmentalize the ethnic groups they encountered in Africa and the Americas. A more useful term for classification would be “ethnic group.”

Clarity
    rating: 5

The wording of the text is clear, and achieves a not-unreasonable level of grammatical and syntactical complexity for college students.

Consistency
    rating: 5

The framework and terminology are consistent.

Modularity
    rating: 4

The modularity is fine, but the section titles are more confusing than helpful. It would be preferable to have section titles that use terms students will be familiar with. Rather than titling chapters “Religious Upheavals in the Developing Atlantic World,” title it “Protestant Reformation and Catholicism.” Instead of “The United States Goes Back to War,” use “The War of 1812.” That way when students are looking for a topic they want to find in the Table of Contents, they’ll be able to navigate it faster.

Organization/Structure/Flow
    rating: 2

The organization of the first four chapters is inexhaustingly Eurocentric. Pages 34 – 39 and 42 – 46 are completely out of place in a U.S. history book, for instance. All of the information on those pages can be explained with quick in-text references in the sections that really have to do with America rather than long paragraphs in their own section. Chapter 4 on the British Empire is completely unnecessary. This is definitely a way the text can cut down on its word count. The chapter just seems like an excuse to tell European history. All that needs to be said in a U.S. history book about that period is covered in Chapter 3, which, by the way, is excellent, particularly the attention given to St. Augustine, Santa Fe, and Bacon’s Rebellion. The text sings when focusing on regional histories. The section on New France is extraneous, however.

The breaking up of the 1960s Countercultural Movement into two eras seems to rob the moment of its full contextual impact. The political issues from, say, p. 866 “Kennedy the Cold Warrior” directly led to the social upheavals covered right up to page 903, the beginning of Nixon’s story. That period represented a significant break with previous notions of American identity and should have its own chapter with a distinctive thematic focus.

There were great delights. I loved the inclusion of a section on transcendentalism and was pleasantly surprised to see a section on the flowering of antebellum Utopian communities.

Interface
    rating: 3

On the online version, there should be page numbers. The only way to refer a student to a particular sentence is by section number, and those are too long. If going over a passage in class, it will take too long for everybody to find it.

In the pdf version, the table contents have hyperlinks that take you right to the section, but there’s no way to go back to the Table of Contents from the different section. This will cause a delay, particularly if a student goes to the wrong section, they can’t go right back up to the Table of Contents. There should be a way back.

Grammatical Errors
    rating: 4

The text contains this sentence on page 20: “In 1054, the eastern branch of Christianity, led by the Patriarch of Constantinople (a title that because roughly equivalent to the western Church’s pope), established its center in Constantinople and adopted the Greek language for its services.” I think the word “was” was supposed to go there instead of the word “because.”

Cultural Relevance
    rating: 3

Rather than devoting so much of Chapter 2 to European history, there were relevant things happening in the Americas that the editor could have chosen to include. What about the legendary battles between maroon/Carib confederations against both the French and the British on Saint Vincent and Dominica? What about Spanish and Portuguese encounters with Arawaks and Caribs in the Lesser Antilles and the construction of racial characteristics amongst these ethnic groups? These are events that had actual cultural impact in Americas, as those populations directly comprised the American cultural mosaic.

In Chapter 1, black and brown leaders are consistently left out of the narrative. In the one sentence discussing the inheritors of the gold-for-salt trade, the Songhay, where is the mention of Askia Muhammad Toure, who founded it, or Sunni Ali Ber, who led its hostile takeover? What of Amerindian heroes like Tupac Yupanqui, Pachacuti, or Montezuma? Do they not merit a mention? And, not unimportantly, why is it that only European leaders get honorifics? The text makes the effort the mention that Richard was named the “the Lionheart,” Charles Martel “the Hammer,” and Henry “the Navigator.” More information on Songhay or the Kongo would have allowed for mention of Askiya the Great or Affonso the Great. Black and brown leaders have cool nicknames, too. This is exactly why we see so many studies of black and brown children in America who don’t feel they have role models. We force feed them navigators and hammers with whom they have trouble identifying.

Eurocentrism is about seeing the world from one perspective, and ignoring the possibility that your reader does not share it. Opening up a section with a sentence like “The year 622 brought a new challenge to Christendom” (page 29) immediately puts “Christendom” in the role of protagonist and Islam in the role of antagonist. As if it were Islam’s mission to destroy Christianity. The text does not explore at all Muhammad’s attempts to bring his vision to both Jewish and Christian leaders in Mecca, that he wanted to unify the faiths. The text is largely graphic in its depictions of horrors on both sides of the Crusades, but it continues an ugly narrative in American society that Islam is a force to be conquered by Christians.

Comments

Please address the issues on African and Amerindian history and I will be happy to re-review!

 

Reviewed by Matthew Lindaman, Professor, Winona State University on 8/22/16

Very comprehensive in scope and coverage. If possible, I would like to see a few more primary sources. However, perhaps they could be located in an appendix as the flow is strong "as is." read more

Reviewed by Matthew Lindaman, Professor, Winona State University on 8/22/16

Comprehensiveness
    rating: 5     see less

Very comprehensive in scope and coverage. If possible, I would like to see a few more primary sources. However, perhaps they could be located in an appendix as the flow is strong “as is.”

Accuracy
    rating: 5

The content is accurate. There are no errors found in the text. The text is unbiased. Organizationally, it does not favor an overtly political, diplomatic, social, or cultural approach, which in turn might lend to bias. Instead, it is a nice blending of approaches.

Relevance/Longevity
    rating: 5

It is a history book and therefore will stand a longer test of time. Any relevant changes should be easy to make. I will comment on the images elsewhere. Fur purposes of evaluating longevity however, I will note that the historical images are sharp or crisp in appearance. By largely staying away from photos, these will stand the test of time. A few contemporary photos were used in the early chapters, but they are not many in number and should not look dated. In any case, they could be easily replaced. Thus, as far as images were concerned, I found the selections strong and ones that look sharp in a contemporary setting. Second, I thought the authors did a masterful job of including hooks to current or contemporary cultural references that were embedded in the materials of the past. This inclusion piqued my curiosity as a reader and will provide an number of great avenues of discovery and discussion for student readers.

Clarity
    rating: 4

The clarity was solid throughout. IT was not overly filled with jargon. Paragraph structures were the appropriate length, While on the subject of clarity, I want to underscore my appreciation for the clarity associated with the labeling of the images. They were not only neat in appearance, but also including the appropriate materials (in a succinct manner) to allow student to practice historical sourcing as a skill.

Consistency
    rating: 4

There were no issues in this area. I have more to say under the theme of modularity which I see as a great strength of the book.

Modularity
    rating: 5

If I could, I would give this a five plus rating!! I found this to be a very pleasing aspect of the open source platform. Without worry of page number or length impacting printing prices, the authors were able to assemble a great number of chapters, or at least a greater number of sub-themes within the chapters. Three examples stand out: the Crusades, greater coverage of Africa, and deeper coverage of the European Reformation; all of these allowed greater depth to the historical story, with the option of covering them on the assigned readings, or not, without missing the flow. Likewise, within the chapters, the modularity was a strength, allowing a fluent reading experience between themes. It appears the book is driven by theme or key vocabulary concepts as opposed the “the great individual” in history approach. As stated under the bias theme, this means it does not come across favoring any one approach to hisoty.

Organization/Structure/Flow
    rating: 5

All topics were logical. The flow was sound, I appreciated the opening hook and the lead prompts or questions under the sub-chapter sections.

Interface
    rating: 5

I was very impressed with the interface of the text. Approaching this review, I was skeptical, or though one of the main things I like about texts, the infusion of images, might be lost in an open source platform. This was not the case. I came away very impressed with the interface. The paragraphs were embedded with images, or use of primary sources. This kept the flow of the chapters lively and provides many opportunity to go into a deeper discussion of the images or primary sources in relation to the context of the material covered.

Grammatical Errors
    rating: 5

I did not find any issues with the grammar.

Cultural Relevance
    rating: 4

This was generally good. With the vast use of images, the authors may consider using a bit more cultural diversity over the last half of the text.

Comments

Entering with an open mind, though somewhat skeptical of open source as a platform, I came away very impressed. The modularity and interface of the text were definite strengths. The material is solid, but definitely enhanced with the use of images, embedded primary sources, and links to additional open source materials. This will allow the students opportunity to gain coverage of materials, while also providing the opportunity for the flipped classroom in that great discussions can take place surrounding the images and primary documents, including the opportunity to practice historical thinking skills of sourcing and contextualization. Along these lines, I want to applaud the authors for the use of lead images to introduce each chapter. This was something I thought would e lost on an open source platform. Instead, as I was reviewing, I could not wait to get to the next chapter to see what the authors included as the image-hook-historical context opening. Well done, creative, and I would love to use in the classroom!

 

Reviewed by Joe Austin, Associate Professor, University of Wisconsin, Milwaukee on 8/22/16

NOTE: My comments apply ONLY to the post-1865 chapters (16-32). I’d judge this book’s comprehensiveness to be about average or a little better. The chapters prior cover the material prior to the 1960s (chapter 29) are more comprehensive than those… read more

Reviewed by Joe Austin, Associate Professor, University of Wisconsin, Milwaukee on 8/22/16

Comprehensiveness
    rating: 4     see less

NOTE: My comments apply ONLY to the post-1865 chapters (16-32). I’d judge this book’s comprehensiveness to be about average or a little better. The chapters prior cover the material prior to the 1960s (chapter 29) are more comprehensive than those that follow. The chapters before 1930 (16-25) are the most comprehensive.

Accuracy
    rating: 4

I found no errors in the material. In my view, the book could have used a more critical viewpoint; it’s “bias” as primarily a kind of uncritical blandness. Otherwise, I saw no consistent viewpoint across the chapters. The viewpoints across some of the chapter sections seemed to vary quite a bit.

Relevance/Longevity
    rating: 2

I thought the book was about 10-15 years behind the times in terms of terminology. For instance, there was no serious discussions of “whiteness” or “settler colonialism” or even the intellectual history of race that would have helped to conceptualize and unify some of the material. The material is fairly modular (perhaps to a fault — it seems fragmented in places), so it shouldn’t be too difficult to add these sorts of conceptual tools with minimal editing.

Clarity
    rating: 3

Jargon-less to a fault: lacks the kinds of conceptual tools that might challenge students to engage more deeply and critically with the material (see above). Very accessible language, but also very bland overall (this varied quite a bit). This book is unlikely to inspire anyone to become more interested in history, but it is also unlikely that many students will misunderstand the textbook’s intended meanings.

Consistency
    rating: 4

With rather little terminology or framework, one could call this textbook consistent. The “side bars” did not add significant thematic consistency. In general, the textbook navigated a middle road, the most consistent focus on political, military, economic/business, and diplomatic subfields across chapters.

Modularity
    rating: 4

In my opinion, this was a weakness in this textbook. I understand that modularity is important for this textbook format, but it works against narrative and critical/analytical consistency, and in this case, also results in an inconsistency in the authorial voice. Yes, it would be relatively easy to add new sections without major disturbances in the existing flow of the text. Is that a good thing in a narrative presentation? Doesn’t this suggest that any new sections had little significant impact or importance?

Organization/Structure/Flow
    rating: 3

The chapters prior to WW1 (chapters 16-22) are organized thematically across broad, overlapping periods, while those that follow (23-32) are arranged in a stricter chronological order. The post-1945 chapters (chapters 28-32) tend to cover longer periods of time (15-20 years). The organization seems to have an implicit argument that the last 100 years (and certainly the last ~50 years) are less well understood or important than the last half of the 19th and early 20th centuries. That said, this one does not seem too far out of the standard range among US history textbooks.

Interface
    rating: 4

These seemed to be about standard quality. These “side bars” generally were well written and worthwhile, but more seemed like “spice” rather than “nourishment.”

Grammatical Errors
    rating: 3

The only major grammar problem in the text is the use of the passive voice, which is noteworthy in some sections. Given my emphasis on causation and action in student writing, this is a problem for me. Some sections would seem to encourage a kind of vague, “zeitgeist” thinking that seems more appropriate to entertainment venues (e.g., the History Channel) as opposed to an academic textbook. I noticed the repeated use of the word “spirit” (e.g., “the progressive spirit”).

Cultural Relevance
    rating: 2

I found nothing that was identifiably offensive, but there was a notable turn away from critically examining the reproduction of long-term inequalities. Thus, racism was primarily caused by “racists” rather than everyday embedded racial ideals, presumptions, bad science, or unrecognized “special privileges.” There is no critique of modernity nor a serious challenge to “Western Civilization.” Likewise, there was no critical examination of the inequalities generated by capitalism, aside from a few bad actors. Even when examining the Gilded Age, the textbook repeated the long-outdated “debate” about the virtues of the Robber Barons. No conservative K-12 school board would be offended by this textbook.

Comments

As you may have detected if you have read this far, I am not a fan of US textbooks. That said, I am a big fan of Eric Foner’s textbook, particularly in its least-expensive form. No, by no means is it perfect, but my students consistently rate it highly, and it avoids most of the flaws of the genre.

In my experience, standard US history textbooks do little to challenge the patriotic, “glorious past” propaganda that is pushed on our K-12 students. Historical thinking and critique tend to be episodic and anecdotal — although inequalities seem to “reappear” in textbook narratives, there is rarely any sense that inequality is systematic or structural. US history textbooks are more likely to damage any enthusiasm students display in understanding US history than to nurture it.

This general description of US history textbooks fits this particular textbook quite well. It seems to be “standard” in every way, with its primary distinction being its blandness. As I mentioned before, this textbook is very unlikely to win new converts to historical thinking, though it will likely satisfy the History Channel enthusiasts.

The supposed virtue of open source textbooks at this historical moment seems to be price, and I have strong sympathies with attempts to reduce the outrageous costs that students in the US must pay for higher education. However, this textbook does little to challenge unexamined, “commonsense” assumptions about the US past that could as easily be acquired (and affirmed) from television programming or Hollywood. We have to do better than this. Otherwise, the ~$50 price for Foner’s textbook is a far better choice.

 

Reviewed by Charles Young, Associate Professor, Umpqua Community College on 8/22/16

The textbook is quite comprehensive in covering key ares and ideas. For example, I was quite impressed with the well written and broad details concerning "John Winthrop and the Puritans" in Chapter 3 and with "The New Nixon," "The Domestic… read more

Reviewed by Charles Young, Associate Professor, Umpqua Community College on 8/22/16

Comprehensiveness
    rating: 5     see less

The textbook is quite comprehensive in covering key ares and ideas. For example, I was quite impressed with the well written and broad details concerning “John Winthrop and the Puritans” in Chapter 3 and with “The New Nixon,” “The Domestic Nixon,” and “Nixon the Diplomat” in Chapter 30. When I first began reading the textbook I felt there was was too much interruption and space given to the illustrations, maps, charts, and first person narratives (as engaging and colorful as they are) at the expense of narrative flow and needed textual content but by the second chapter I realized how well written and to the point the test is. I did feel that the extent given to the My Lai massacre during the Vietnam War was excessive (I served during this period). With that aside, because of this excellent focus the content does give sufficient depth to the issues and events in relatively short textual spaces.

Accuracy
    rating: 5

I am also impressed with the accuracy of the information given. Only in a few areas do I feel the content on certain subjects to be too simplistic or indeed somewhat inaccurate. To be specific, in Chapter 1, “The Maya,” the fall of the Classic Maya by 900 C.E. is far more complex than simply to say, “Because of poor soil and a drought that lasted nearly two centuries their civilization declined . . . and they abandoned their large population centers.” A major increase in endemic, continuous warfare, raids by non-Mayan peoples, an urban population too large to be sustained by their agriculture, and the loss of faith in their rulers and the ceremonies centered in these urban ceremonial centers were also key factors in the decline. I also feel the reasons given for using the atomic bombs in WWII, especially why a second bomb was dropped to be missing key factors and far too abbreviated. Otherwise, however, i give this textbook high marks for accuracy and depth.

Relevance/Longevity
    rating: 5

The content is quite up to date and relevant. The treatment of the rise of the conservative movement politically is outstanding in both its relevancy to today and in its depth of detail. In particular I praise in Chapter 31 the sections on “Creating a Conservative Policy” and “Conservative Christians and Family Values.” I did not see where the textbook would be out of date anytime soon. The last chapter is excellent in bring us up to the last few years of history.

Clarity
    rating: 5

This textbook is exceptionally well written and to the point. As I shared earlier, at first I thought that the text was too often broken up by the maps, pictures, and first person sections but soon came to realize that the authors do zero in well on the key information needing to be shared in a wonderfully engaging writing styles. For example, the labor systems used in early New Spain is so well written, as is the material on Anne Hutchinson and the early Puritans.

Consistency
    rating: 5

The text is consistent in spite of the multiple authors (which is surprising) Whoever had some editorial input did an outstanding job blending the no doubt different writing styles into a coherent, engaging, and always to the point brevity. I am particularly impressed with the Civil War narrative in its consistency, and all through the book the repeated framework works well.

Modularity
    rating: 5

The division of the chapters into sections, readings, maps, illustrations, first person accounts, review questions, glossaries, critical thinking questions, on line sources all worked very well. Yes, such modularity does lend itself to easy reorganization to better fit individualized teaching methods, highlighting key sections, and an overall variety that I believe would be very engaging to students.

Organization/Structure/Flow
    rating: 5

At first I felt the many different section breaks, especially the extensive maps and pictures/illustrations, caused too much interruption of the narrative reading flow. By the second chapter, however, I became aware of how well written the text was and how well chosen, perfectly paired, and visually attractive were the illustrations and maps (the color alone added to the engagement). By the the third chapter I was even more impressed with the organization and flow and that view remained throughout the rest of the textbook reading. Your choices of illustrations, maps, charts, and pictures are outstanding. The “Colombian Exchange” map and text are examples of impressive and appropriate pairing and reinforcement.

Interface
    rating: 5

navigation of the interface is straightforward and easy. I did not notice distortion or any issue here that would confuse the reader.

Grammatical Errors
    rating: 5

I did not notice problems with grammar. In fact, I am very impressed with the level of writing, particularly its ability to explain rather complex ideas in an engaging, to the point way.

Cultural Relevance
    rating: 5

I believe this textbook is culturally sensitive and relevant. It certainly includes many first person accounts of discrimination and intolerance (an example being the attention to our past slavery and to the rounding up of Japanese- Americans at the beginning of WWII) in our history so as to remind us of how far we have come and to be ever more sensitive to equal treatment of peoples.

Comments

I am very impressed with this textbook, especially in its engaging use of appropriate and colorful maps and illustrations, its well chosen use of photographs, and, most of all, its well written narrative that I believe will greatly involve the reader in the story telling aspect of what good history is all about. I would highly recommend this book to others!

 

Reviewed by Caryn Neumann, Lecturer, Miami University of Ohio on 8/22/16

This book is an acceptable replacement for any U.S. History textbook by a major publisher. To save costs, the publisher used open source material for images. The book is not as polished-looking as a "normal" textbook. However, the quality of the… read more

Reviewed by Caryn Neumann, Lecturer, Miami University of Ohio on 8/22/16

Comprehensiveness
    rating: 5     see less

This book is an acceptable replacement for any U.S. History textbook by a major publisher. To save costs, the publisher used open source material for images. The book is not as polished-looking as a “normal” textbook. However, the quality of the text is high. Full disclosure: I was one of many reviewers who looked at chapters for any possible errors or weaknesses. The quality control procedures of OpenStax matched that of traditional publishers.

I have listed this book on my syllabus as suitable for my students in U.S. History.

Accuracy
    rating: 5

The textbook has been proofread by many eyes and I can find no errors.

Relevance/Longevity
    rating: 5

The vast majority of historians regard anything that has happened in the past 20 years as current events. It is not possible to have historical distance on a topic until a generation, at least, has passed. Therefore, I do not regard this question of longevity as relevant to this book.

Clarity
    rating: 5

It is quite readable.

Consistency
    rating: 5

The book has no readability problems at all. It is consistent and easy to digest.

Modularity
    rating: 5

The table of contents matches the pattern of most history courses. Historians typically move chronologically. The chapters are broken into easily digestible parts. I read each chapter in one sitting without any difficulty.

Organization/Structure/Flow
    rating: 5

The chapters match the flow of the vast majority of history courses.

Interface
    rating: 4

The book is fairly straightforward and basic.

Grammatical Errors
    rating: 5

I would have a fit if the book contained grammar errors. It has none that I saw.

Cultural Relevance
    rating: 5

It is quite inclusive and respectful.

Comments

No.

 

Reviewed by Robert Maloy, Senior Lecturer, University of Massachusetts Amherst on 1/8/16

The book is impressively comprehensive. Its 1052 pages include 32 chapters, beginning with the “Americas, Europe, and Africa Before 1492” and ending with the “Challenges of the 21st Century.” The first eight chapters explore colonial America,… read more

Reviewed by Robert Maloy, Senior Lecturer, University of Massachusetts Amherst on 1/8/16

Comprehensiveness
    rating: 5     see less

The book is impressively comprehensive. Its 1052 pages include 32 chapters, beginning with the “Americas, Europe, and Africa Before 1492” and ending with the “Challenges of the 21st Century.” The first eight chapters explore colonial America, the War for Independence and the formation of a new republic. Chapters 9 through 16 focus on early industrialization, the contrasting economies of the North and South including the divisive impact of slavery, territorial expansion, political reform, and the Civil War and Reconstruction. Chapters 17 through 22 deal with post-Civil War industrialization, westward expansion, Progressivism, and American imperialism. Chapters 23 through 30 continue the narrative through the 20th century with material on World War I, the 1920s, the Depression and the New Deal, World War II, the Cold War, the changing American society and economy from the 1950s to the 1980s, including the struggle for African American civil rights. The final two chapters focus on contemporary history from 1980 to the present.

Accuracy
    rating: 5

The book reflects the latest scholarship, blending political, social and economic history very effectively. The authors discuss seminal events, dramatic moments, and hidden histories from every time period in the past. Readers learn about different time periods from the perspectives not only of leaders and elites, but individuals and groups who are often neglected or omitted by more traditional texts. Throughout, the lives and stories of famous and ordinary people are used to reveal the pressures and patterns of life during different time periods.

Relevance/Longevity
    rating: 4

Given its treatment of seminal events, dramatic moments, and hidden histories, the book is highly relevant to the lives of students and teachers today. Teachers and students can use the book to generate a present-to-past-to-future teaching methodology where contemporary issues are discussed and then explored historically, all to generate opportunities to envision better futures for all people. Teachers and students can also use the book in a more traditional format, moving chronologically from the past to the present.

Clarity
    rating: 4

The book is well written, in an engaging and informative style that should appeal to students and teachers alike. Importantly, the use of interactive web links, primary source excerpts, and photographs and other visual material support the book’s approach without distracting readers from main ideas.

Consistency
    rating: 4

The book has a consistent approach throughout, balancing the larger historical context of key developments and important people with explorations of less-known, but still important events along with the stories of lesser-known historical figures.

Modularity
    rating: 5

The inclusion of 32 separate chapters creates a book that will be read and understood effectively by both students and teachers. Students can read a chapter and follow the historical narrative without becoming overwhelmed in factual detail. Teachers can assign chapters or sections of chapters to complement what they are discussing in class. The size of the book is therefore an advantage because some sections can be explored in more depth using primary sources and other materials while other sections can be read mainly for historical background.

Organization/Structure/Flow
    rating: 5

The book has logical organization and an engaging narrative flow. It is easy to navigate and to read. The chapters present the major periods of United States history chronologically. Every chapter title includes dates so readers can follow the flow of events. For example, Chapter 8 dealing with events leading to the War for Independence is entitled “Imperial Reforms and Colonial Protests, 1763-1774.” Similarly, the chapter on the New Deal era is entitled “Franklin Roosevelt and the New Deal, 1932-1941.” Maps, pictures, charts, timelines, primary source readings, and web links are placed in the center of the page, calling the reader’s attention to the information. Figures and Tables are numbered by chapter and linked so readers can move seamlessly to the visual material. The Table of Contents is interactive so clicking on a chapter title immediately brings readers to that chapter in the text.

Interface
    rating: 4

Every chapter in the PDF and Read Online version of the book has a live web link feature called Click and Explore. This feature takes readers to a website where they can explore a topic in more depth by viewing primary source material, viewing video on the site or accessing other resources. For example, a figure of showing Alexander Graham Bell’s patent of the telephone is followed by a Click and Explore link to “Everyday Mysteries,” a Library of Congress site that lets readers explore competing claims for Bell, Elisha Gray or Antonio Meucci as the phone’s inventor. Most Click and Explore links take readers to sites maintained by government agencies, museums, historical organizations, libraries, and news network sites (“Tocqueville C-Span: Retracing the Steps of Alexis de Tocqueville’s 1831 Journey” is one such example). Occasionally, the link goes to dot.com site where readers will find pages that include advertisements for commercial products and services.

Grammatical Errors
    rating: 4

While the vocabulary is mainly geared for college students, with scaffolding by teachers, the book can certainly be used in high school classes as well.

Cultural Relevance
    rating: 5

Cultural Relevance: The book incorporates the diverse histories and herstories of different races, ethnicities and backgrounds throughout. Three features—“Defining ‘American’ “, “My Story” and “Americana”—present a wide-ranging multicultural view of the past.
“Defining ‘American’ “ uses short selections from documents, speeches, photographs and other writing to uncover hidden histories and untold stories of what it means to an American, including a selection from Sarah H. Bradford’s 1869 book Scenes from the Life of Harriet Tubman; Chief Justice John Marshall’s 1832 ruling on the principle of Native American tribal sovereignty in Worcester v. Georgia; the photography of Jacob Riis documenting urban slums and tenements during the Glided Age; the story of African American soldiers during the Spanish American War; and a letter from Mary Childs Nearney, a secretary of the NAACP, requesting racist scenes be cut from the film, Birth of a Nation.
“My Story” uses diaries, interviews, letters and other sources to set a context for important events and dramatic moments in American history, including Solomon Northup remembrance of the New Orleans Slave Market; a selection from Andrew Carnegie’s The Gospel of Wealth, a first person account of World War I trench warfare, a selection from a colonial Virginia planter, and a woman’s account of the devastation of farm lands during the 1930s Dust Bowl.
“Americana” explores artifacts from pop culture to highlight the values and philosophies of different time periods, including Walt Whitman’s 1855 poem, “Song of Myself;” Joseph Glidden’s 1873 invention of barbed wire that changed land use patterns in the American West; lyrics from the Depression-era song, “Brother, Can You Spare a Dime?”, and pro-World War I propaganda posters in English and Yiddish.

Comments

There is a list of key terms, a short summary of key content, a set of multiple choice Review Questions, and several critical thinking questions at the end of each of the book’s 32 chapters. An Answer Key at the back of the book provides succinct explanations for the correct answers to the Review Questions making that a very useful feature for classroom instruction. Questions can be given in paper format or entered into a student responses system where students can discuss the questions and analyze the answer choices.

 

Table of Contents

  • The Americas, Europe, and Africa Before 1492
  • Early Globalization: The Atlantic World, 1492–1650
  • Creating New Social Orders: Colonial Societies, 1500–1700
  • Rule Britannia! The English Empire, 1660–1763
  • Imperial Reforms and Colonial Protests, 1763-1774
  • America’s War for Independence, 1775-1783
  • Creating Republican Governments, 1776–1790
  • Growing Pains: The New Republic, 1790–1820
  • The Industrial, Market, and Transportation Revolutions, 1800–1850
  • Jacksonian Democracy, 1820–1840
  • A Nation on the Move: Westward Expansion, 1800–1860
  • Cotton is King: The Antebellum South, 1800–1860
  • Antebellum Idealism and Reform Impulses, 1820–1860
  • Troubled Times: the Tumultuous 1850s
  • The Civil War, 1860–1865
  • The Era of Reconstruction, 1865–1877
  • Go West Young Man! Westward Expansion, 1840-1900
  • Industrialization and the Rise of Big Business, 1870-1900
  • The Growing Pains of Urbanization, 1870-1900
  • Politics in the Gilded Age, 1870-1900
  • Leading the Way: The Progressive Movement, 1890-1920
  • Age of Empire: American Foreign Policy, 1890-1914
  • Americans and the Great War, 1914-1919
  • The Jazz Age: Redefining the Nation, 1919-1929
  • Brother, Can You Spare a Dime? The Great Depression, 1929-1932
  • Franklin Roosevelt and the New Deal, 1932-1941
  • Fighting the Good Fight in World War II, 1941-1945
  • Post-War Prosperity and Cold War Fears, 1945-1960
  • Contesting Futures: America in the 1960s
  • Political Storms at Home and Abroad, 1968-1980
  • From Cold War to Culture Wars, 1980-2000
  • The Challenges of the Twenty-First Century

About the Book

U.S. Historycovers the breadth of the chronological history of the United States and also provides the necessary depth to ensure the course is manageable for instructors and students alike. U.S. History is designed to meet the scope and sequence requirements of most courses. The authors introduce key forces and major developments that together form the American experience, with particular attention paid to considering issues of race, class, and gender. The text provides a balanced approach to U.S. history, considering the people, events, and ideas that have shaped the United States from both the top down (politics, economics, diplomacy) and bottom up (eyewitness accounts, lived experience).

OpenStax College has compiled many resources for faculty and students, from faculty-only content to interactive homework and study guides.

About the Contributors

Author

Senior Contributors

P. Scott Corbett, PhD – Ventura College

Volker Janssen, PhD – California State University-Fullerton

John M. Lund, PhD – Keene State College

Todd Pfannestiel, PhD – Clarion University

Paul Vickery, PhD – Oral Roberts University

Sylvie Waskiewicz, PhD – Lead Editor



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