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Why the American Century?

Reinterpreting our country’s rise to world power, Olivier Zunz shows how American elites appropriated the twentieth century. Policymakers, corporate managers, engineers, scientists, and social scientists promoted a social contract of abundance and a controversial theory of pluralism. Their efforts created a model of middle class behavior for America and for the rest of the world.

"It should certainly be the task of historians to explain the nation’s triumphs as effectively as they have explained its failures, and Zunz in this intelligent, learned and ambitious book suggests a valuable new model for doing so."—Alan Brinkley, Times Literary Supplement

"Zunz is evenhanded in his judgments. . . . His thesis is both imaginative and well grounded in the appropriate sources."—David M. Oshinsky, New York Times Book Review

"Zunz is an innovative and perceptive social critic. He crosses disciplinary boundaries with ease and felicity, and is particularly adept at illustrating large themes with unusual but telling details."—Kent Blaser, American Studies

"An eye-opening introduction to the shaping of modern America."—Foreign Affairs

270 pages | 6 x 9 | © 1999

Culture Studies

History: American History

Political Science: American Government and Politics

Table of Contents

Preface: "The New Colossus"
Pt. 1: Making the Century American
Ch. 1: Producers, Brokers, and Users of Knowledge
Ch. 2: Defining Tools of Social Intelligence
Ch. 3: Inventing the Average American
Pt. 2: The Social Contract of the Market
Ch. 4: Turning out Consumers
Ch. 5: Deradicalizing Class
Pt. 3: Embattled Identities
Ch. 6: From Voluntarism to Pluralism
Ch. 7: Enlarging the Polity
Pt. 4: Exporting American Principles
Ch. 8: Individualism and Modernization
Ch. 9: The Power of Uncertainty

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