"Beautifully written and wonderfully absorbing, The Reckless Decade is the most accessible survey history of America's turbulent 1890s ever composed."-Douglas Brinkley
Just as we do today, Americans of the 1890s faced changes in economics, politics, society, and technology that led to wrenching and sometimes violent tensions between rich and poor, capital and labor, white and black, East and West. In The Reckless Decade, H. W. Brands demonstrates how we can learn about the contradictions that lie at the heart of America today by looking at them through the lens of the 1890s.
The decade of the 1890s is quite compelling; it represents the high flowering of an older, quaint America together with social, political, and intellectual trends that would move the nation rapidly into the modernity familiar to us today. Brands (history, Texas A&M) has produced a workmanlike survey of the period, concentrating on traditional economic and political topics. The familiar emphases include labor strife, slum life, the robber barons, and the Spanish-American War. Readability (and research value) would have been enhanced by greater concern for intellectual and social issues. Emergent communication and transportation technologies, the purity and temperance movements, and the changes in popular entertainment are valid scholarly topics that would have added interest. Brands's book will be useful as a term-paper source but will probably not attract many general readers.-Fritz Buckallew, Univ. of Central Oklahoma Lib., Edmond