The Landmark History of the American People Essay - Critical Essays

Daniel J. Boorstin


Daniel Boorstin is one of the most respected authorities on American history. His widely acclaimed writings, which span over half a century of work, set standards for accuracy, precision, and insight that are almost unparalleled in the discipline. At the same time, they have proven popular with general readers as well. In The Landmark History of the American People, he has given young adult readers in the United States a fair and balanced account of their nation’s development that will allow them to make informed and critical judgments of how and why their country developed in the fashion that it did and permit them the opportunity to decide what they would—and could—do to influence its future course. In a very real sense, this work is a practical as well as an academic history of the United States; it is a civics lesson for the present as much as a history lesson about the past.

Boorstin’s survey of U.S. history is scrupulously honest. While the content of the work naturally includes much that is favorable to the nation, such as its dramatic growth in prosperity following the Civil War, its emergence as an industrial power during the twentieth century, and its vital role in fighting the Axis Powers during World War II, Boorstin does not omit the less-than-perfect aspects of U.S. national life. These include the often indefensible treatment of American Indians, continuing economic inequality throughout much of the country’s history, and...

(The entire section is 422 words.)