The excellent first volume (of two) of the American Social History Project's grass-roots history of our nation, organized under the direction of the late Herbert G. Gutman. This artfully designed work covers the period from the founding of the colonies through the end of Reconstruction in a novel way. Instead of recounting only how the great men of American history thought and acted, the powerfully written text skillfully integrates the thoughts and actions of the nation's ""ordinary people""--workers, slaves, immigrants--and tells of how they, too, contributed to the making of American history. Hence the chapters on industrialization and slavery focus as much on the home and work lives of workers and slaves and their attempts to fashion decent lives as they do on the more well-known political, social, technological, and economic developments associated with these topics. The use of first-person accounts adds color to the text, and the vivid accounts of soldiers, nurses, and those on the ""homefront"" contained in the chapters on the American Revolution and the Civil War give a sense of what it meant to live during those tumultuous moments. A welcome and unique addition to the American history bookshelf.