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New Spirits: Americans in the Gilded Age, 1865-1905 provides a fascinating look at one of the most crucial chapters in U.S. history. Rejecting the stereotype of a "Gilded Age" dominated by "robber barons," author Rebecca Edwards invites us to look more closely at the period when the UnitedStates became a modern industrial nation and asserted its place as a leader on the world stage. Employing a concise, engaging narrative, Edwards recounts the contradictions of the era, including stories of tragedy and injustice alongside tales of humor, endurance, and triumph. She offers a balancedperspective that considers a number of different viewpoints, including those of native-born Anglos, Native Americans, African Americans, and an array of Asian, Mexican, and European immigrants. Beginning with Emancipation and ending with the first deployment of U.S. troops overseas, New Spiritstraces the roots of today's diverse and conflicted nation. Organized around major themes, the text consists of three parts. Opening with the legacies of the Civil War, Part I focuses on the era's political and economic transformations. Part II explores upheavals in family life, scientific thought,and religious faith. Part III follows the depression of the 1890s and its aftermath. The book reveals a world of hopeful immigrants and striving professionals; generations in conflict with one another; a new West and South; and religious, political, intellectual, and sexual experimentation. Offeringa fresh, sweeping narrative, New Spirits is ideal for readers seeking an introduction to this critical epoch, and for undergraduate and graduate courses on the Gilded Age, the Progressive Era, and 20th-century U.S. history.
Rebecca Edwards is Associate Professor of History at Vassar College