U.s. History for Dummies

Edition: 4th
Format: Paperback
Pub. Date: 2019-03-19
Publisher(s): For Dummies
List Price: $24.99

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  • Find FREE chapter quizzes online
  • Discover important events that shaped the nation
  • Get to know the superstars of the past

Don't miss a moment of U.S. history

The United States is undergoing a period of intense political and social change. From the rise of the Tea Party to social media's effect on American life and politics, this new edition fills in the gaps of this nation's story. This book guides you through the events that shaped the nation, from pre-Columbian civilizations to the 21st century. It's all here—you'll find all the wars, leaders, and eras that explain and demonstrate how the past influences the future.


  • Get an overview of U.S. history
  • Learn about major movements
  • Discover how the U.S. came of age
  • Explore iconic cultural moments
  • Find out how the country faced adversity
  • Get to know historical U.S. documents

FREE 1-year access to chapter quizzes online!

Author Biography

Steve Wiegand is an award-winning political journalist and history writer. Over a 35-year career, he worked as a reporter and columnist at the San Diego Evening Tribune, San Francisco Chronicle, and Sacramento Bee. He is the author or coauthor of seven books dealing with various aspects of U.S. and world history.

Table of Contents

Introduction 1

About This Book 1

Conventions Used in This Book 2

What Not to Read 3

Foolish Assumptions 3

Beyond the Book 3

Icons Used in This Book 4

Where to Go from Here 4

Part 1: Getting Started With U.S History 5

Chapter 1: America: A Short Biography 7

They Came, They Saw, They Stayed 8

Putting America on the Map 9

Struggling with Greatness 13

A Cold War and a Brave New World 15

America in the 21st Century 18

Chapter 2: Native Americans and Explorers: 14,000 BC (?)–1607 21

Coming to America 21

Exploring Early Civilizations 22

Many Tribes, Not Many People 24

De-stereotyping the Native Americans 26

Visiting by the Vikings 27

Spicing Up Life — and Other Reasons for Exploring 28

Dropping Names of Others Who Dropped By 31

The Sword, the Cross, and the Measles 33

Arriving Late for the Party 35

Chapter 3: Pilgrims’ Progress: The English Colonies, 1607–1700 39

Seeing Potential in the New World 39

Settling in Jamestown 40

Instituting Slavery 42

Colonizing: Pilgrims and Puritans 43

Bringing Religious Freedom: Dissidents, Catholics, and Quakers 47

Dealings of the Dutch 49

Coping with Native American Troubles 50

Chapter 4: You Say You Want a Revolution: 1700–1775 53

Looking at America in 1700 53

Colonizing New France 54

Fighting the First True World Wars 55

Awakening to Greater Religious Freedom 57

The French and Indian War 58

Growing like a Weed 60

Heading Toward Divorce with Britain 62

Congressing for the First Time 67

Mr Revere, Your Horse Is Ready 68

Chapter 5: Yankee Doodlin’: 1775–1783 71

In This Corner, the Brits 71

In This Corner, the Yanks 72

Mr Washington Goes to War 74

Declaring Independence 75

Cozying Up to the French 77

Undergoing Life Changes: The Loyalists and the Slaves 78

Winning a War 79

Chapter 6: Blueprints and Birth Pains: 1783–1800 85

Making the Rules 85

Dishing Up Politics, American Style 89

Raising the Dough 91

Earning Respect 92

Finding Foreign Friction 95

Part 2: Growing Pains 97

Chapter 7: “Long Tom” and One Weird War: 1800–1815 99

Jefferson Gets a Job 99

Disorder in the Court 101

Growing by Leaps and Bounds 103

Fighting Pirates, and a “Dambargo” 107

“Little Jemmy” Takes the Helm 109

Why Not Invade Canada This Year? 111

Three Strikes and the Brits Are Out 113

Calling It Even 115

Chapter 8: Pulling Together to Keep from Falling Apart: 1815–1844 117

Embracing Nationalism Sort Of 118

The Slavery Cancer Grows 121

Mud-Wrestling to the White House 125

Nullify This 128

Inventing a Better Life 131

Staking Out New Land 133

Chapter 9: War, Gold, and a Gathering Storm: 1845–1860 139

Wrenching Land from Mexico 139

Rushing for Gold 142

Coming Over and Spreading Out 145

The Beginning of the End 148

Squaring Off for a Showdown: The Lincoln–Douglas Debate 152

Chapter 10: A Most Uncivil War: 1861–1865 155

Introducing Abraham Lincoln 155

North versus South: Comparing Advantages and Action Plans 159

Freeing the Slaves 161

Reviewing the Troops, the Generals, and the Major Battles 163

Two More Reasons Why the North Won 167

Losing a Leader 169

Chapter 11: Putting the Country Back Together: 1865–1876 171

A Southern-Fried Mess: Life in the South after the Civil War 171

Piecing the Union Back Together 174

The Tailor-Made President: Andrew Johnson 177

Growing Corruption in Politics 180

Part 3: Coming of Age 185

Chapter 12: Growing Up: 1876–1898 187

Heading West in a Quest for Wealth 187

Ousting “Undesirables” 190

Cramming into Cities 194

Inventing Big Business 196

Electing a String of Forgettable Presidents 201

The Rise of Populism 202

“A Splendid Little War” 202

Chapter 13: Growing into the 20th Century: 1899–1918 205

Here Today, Guam Tomorrow: Colonizing Spain’s Lands 206

Making a Lot of Noise and Carrying a Big Stick: Roosevelt Takes Office 208

Progressing toward Political and Social Reform 210

Contracting Labor Pains 212

Transporting America 214

Suffering for Suffrage 215

Leaving the South: African Americans Migrate to Northern Cities 217

The War to End All Chapters 218

Chapter 14: Gin, Jazz, and Lucky Lindy: 1919–1929 221

Wilson Goes Out of His League for Peace 222

Restricting Immigration and Challenging the Natives 223

Darwin versus God 225

Warren, Cal, and Herbert: Republicans in the White House 226

Good Times (or Were They?) 228

Ain’t We Got Fun? 231

Drying Out America: Prohibition Begins 234

Changing Morals 235

An Age of Heroes 236

Chapter 15: Uncle Sam’s Depressed: 1930–1940 239

The Great Depression: Causes and Consequences 239

FDR: Making Alphabet Soup 243

Shoving Aside Racial Minorities 248

Keeping Women at Home — or Work 249

Developing Organized Labor 250

Critics, Crooks, and Crime Fighters 251

Chapter 16: The World at War: 1941–1945 255

Trying to Avoid War — Again 255

Gearing Up for War 259

Dealing with the War in Europe 264

Dealing with the War in the Pacific 268

Dropping the Bomb 270

Part 4: America in Adulthood 273

Chapter 17: TV, Elvis, and Reds under the Bed: 1946–1960 275

A Cold War and a Hot “Police Action” 275

Finding Commies under the Bed 280

Having It All 283

Moving, Slowly, to the Front of the Bus 288

Chapter 18: Camelot to Watergate: 1961–1974 291

Electing an Icon 291

Sending Troops to Vietnam 294

Increasing Pressure in ’Nam and Escalating Fears at Home 296

Continuing the Fight for Civil Rights 298

Entering a Generation in Revolt 302

Weirdness in the White House 304

Chapter 19: Hold the Malaise, or, Ayatollah So: 1975–1992 307

Wearing Nixon’s Shoes 307

Good Intentions, Bad Results 309

There’s a First Time for Everything 312

Warming Up after the Cold War 317

Chapter 20: No Sex, Please, I’m the President: 1993–1999 323

Bill, Newt, and Monica 323

Homegrown Terrorism 327

Making Ourselves Sick 330

A World of Change 332

Part 5: Facing the New Millennium 335

Chapter 21: Terror Comes Home; America Goes to War(s) 337

Whew! A Squeaker: Bush and Gore, 2000 337

A Nation Stunned 340

That Damn Saddam 344

Meanwhile, in the Rest of the World 347

Winds and Losses 348

Chapter 22: Recessions Can Be Really Depressing 351

Ouch! The Economy Stubs Its Toe 352

Brother, Can You Spare a Job? 355

“We’re from the Government; We’re Here to Help ” 357

Unspreading the Wealth 361

Chapter 23: Reforming Healthcare Is No Tea Party 365

The Great Presidential Race of 2008 365

Going to a Tea Party 368

Lurching Toward Healthcare 371

Reelecting Obama in 2012 375

Meanwhile, Back at the Budget 377

Chapter 24: America Disagrees with Itself 379

Trumped 379

With Friends Like These 383

Guns, Drugs, and #MeToo 387

Weathering the Weather 390

Chapter 25: This New America 393

The Techno Revolution 393

Surfing the “Silver Tsunami” 401

Stirring the Melting Pot 402

Redefining the American Family 405

Part 6: The Part of Tens 407

Chapter 26: Ten Innovations That Made It Easier to Be Lazy 409

The Escalator (1896) 409

Sliced Bread (1928) 410

Pizza Delivery (~1945) 410

Drive-Through Restaurants (1948) 411

TV Remote Controls (1950) 411

Pop-Top Cans (1963) 411

Microwave Ovens (1967) 412

Microwave Popcorn (1983) 412

Global Positioning System (1989) 413

Amazon (1995) 413

Chapter 27: Ten U.S Presidents Who Were, Well, Average 415

Bill Clinton 415

William McKinley 416

Grover Cleveland 416

John Quincy Adams 416

George H W Bush 417

William Howard Taft 417

Martin Van Buren 417

Rutherford B Hayes 418

Gerald Ford 418

Jimmy Carter 419

Part 7: The Appendixes 421

Appendix A: The Bill of Rights: Amendments 1–10 of the Constitution 423

Appendix B: The Declaration of Independence 425

Index 429

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