THE AMERICANS by Oscar Handlin


Email this review


Oscar Handlin produced an excellent study of the influence of America on its immigrants more than ten years ago. This present volume is the complement; it describes the complex influences of migration on American society, government, and ideals. To tell his story properly, he felt, required ""a canvas large enough to contain the whole history of the nation, for the continuing process of settling a continent was the central experience of the American people"". From the coming of Columbus to the Cold War, he has told that story with remarkable vividness, candor, sympathy, and poetry all at once. His concern is less with what most persons regard as history than it is with the development of attitudes, goals, manners, and morals; his material is oftener than not the words from a popular song, or a quote from a best-selling novel, or the meaningful nonsense of Krazy Kat or Charlie Chaplin, because his focus is constantly upon ""the common experience"". He has written so ""anyone who wishes may read and understand,"" and therefore has left out the usual scholarly documentation and formal ""apparatus of proof"". While many of his conclusions are not original, and many others may be open to some serious questioning, certainly a more enormous task in the space of the volume--or a more successful outcome--can scarcely be imagined.

Publisher: Little, Brown