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by Richard Hofstadter

Pub Date: Oct. 18th, 1968
ISBN: 0394705912
Publisher: Knopf

The "progressive historians" of America--for the purposes of this book, are Frederick Jackson Turner, Charles A. Beard, and V. L. Parrington. Quintessentially, they believed in "progress" as the elan vital of history in general and of America in particular. Turner's logical, if somewhat novel, thesis, for example, was that the key to an understanding of American history is analysis of the nation's progress from the Atlantic to the Pacific seaboard, particularly in its social, economic, cultural and political implications. It is this aspect of Turner's thought that Professor Hofstadter analyzes here in three essays. Beard is studied principally as he appears in his work on the Constitution--with a fascinating digression on "The Devil Theory of Franklin D. Roosevelt." Parrington, of course, is viewed as a historian of American literature seen against its social background. For depth, subtlety, style, and definitiveness, this book is on a par with Hofstadter's The American Political Tradition and Anti-Intellectualism in American Life. His scholarship and literary style are in evidence on every page. The book is, however, historiography rather than history in the usual sense, a limiting audience factor.