Hanging Together: Unity and Diversity in American Culture

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9780300088182: Hanging Together: Unity and Diversity in American Culture
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This book presents three decades of writings by one of America’s most distinguished historians. John Higham, renowned for his influential works on immigration, ethnicity, political symbolism, and the writing of history, here traces the changing contours of American culture since its beginnings, focusing on the ways that an extraordinarily mobile society has allowed divergent ethnic, class, and ideological groups to “hang together” as Americans.

The book includes classic essays by Higham and more recent writings, some of which have been substantially revised for this publication. Topics range widely from the evolution of American national symbols and the fate of our national character to new perspectives on the New Deal, on other major turning points, and on changes in race relations after major American wars. Yet they are unified by an underlying theme: that a heterogeneous society and an inclusive national culture need each other.

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About the Author:

John Higham, John Martin Vincent Professor Emeritus of History at The Johns Hopkins University, is a past president of the Organization of American Historians. His books include Send These to Me and Strangers in the Land. Carl J. Guarneri is professor of history at Saint Mary's College of California.

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Forget Lady Liberty and Uncle Sam: the first visual representation of America was a mostly naked woman, probably a cannibal, armed with a bow and arrow and surrounded by wild, dangerous animals. After the war of independence, historian Higham (Strangers in the Land) explains, this 18th-century European image quickly gave way to others. Now in his 80s, Higham, a professor emeritus at Johns Hopkins University and past president of the Organization of American Historians, casts a wide net in this collection of 14 previously published essays the role of mechanical invention in U.S. history, how ideas about whiteness shaped notions of citizenship in 1900, the relationship between penmanship and urbanization and focuses on the constant reinvention of the "American." He grapples with the conflict between a unitary notion of national identity and a more multicultural vision of the U.S., and faces some problems when he attempts the difficult task of finding a middle ground between the two. Not wanting to ignore multicultural critiques, Higham discusses them but never manages to reconcile them with his more historically orthodox belief in the existence and desirability of a national character and culture, though he makes many insightful and enlightening inquiries along the way. Throughout the collection, Higham exhibits a comprehensive knowledge and a sharp, analytic mind. Although intended for serious students of history, Higham's work is accessible to the amateur historian and a general readership with a background in U.S. intellectual history.

Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information, Inc.

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