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216 × 138 mm
256 pages
01 Aug 2006
Contemporary Worlds
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Altered States America since the Sixties Jeremy Black

As the home of nearly 300 million people spread over approximately 3.7 million square miles of earth, the United States poses a monumental challenge to all who try to grapple with its rich and immensely complex physical and social geography. Acclaimed historian Jeremy Black tackles this challenge through a literal and metaphorical road trip across America's physical and historical landscapes, analysing the ways that events in American history and culture since 1960 have remade the geography and demographics of America.

Black works from the premise that the United States is a continent pretending to be a country. He examines the cultural clashes - and the tense harmony - between the numerous regional cultures uneasily contained within the United States' wide bounds. Suburban sprawl, the triumph of consumerism, the war over health care, immigration and Christian evangelicalism all play a part in these pages, as well as the tug of war within us government politics, and the alternating rise and fall of individualism and conformity. Black also has some telling new reflections on America's role abroad from Nixon's Vietnam to Bush Junior's Iraq.

In Altered States Black deftly reveals less examined aspects of American culture as they are manifested in the diverse peoples and landscapes that stretch from coast to coast.

‘Black tackles the formidable task of making sense out of the recent American past and succeeds in creating a framework that provides rich insights and interesting connections. The themes of unity and diversity, individualism and conformity are as old as Tocqueville, but what Black does so well is to explore how far-reaching and complex these tensions remain in the American experience. The wealth of information is staggering. Black's Altered States now joins my shortlist of books that illuminate recent American history.’ – Donald A. Yerxa, Editor, Historically Speaking

‘Black's account of changing geographical and demographic factors in North America reminds readers of the deeper transformations affecting lived society [. . .] This is a valuable, thoughtful and wonderfully eccentric account of recent American history. It is filled with uncommon insights and food for thought. This book will attract a broad and interested reading audience.‘ – Jeremi Suri, Associate Professor in the Dept of History, University of Wisconsin

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Jeremy Black is Professor of History at the University of Exeter, UK. He is the author of many books including Maps and Politics (1997), Why Wars Happen (1998), War since 1945 (2004) and Britain since the Seventies (2004), all published by Reaktion Books.