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The Reckless Decade - Essay Example

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W. Brands discusses economic, political, technological and social changes which resulted in tensions between the poor and the rich, labour and capital, the East and West and whites and blacks in the 1890s America. Brands begins…
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The Reckless Decade
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The Reckless Decade The book, ‘The Reckless Decade,’ ed by H. W. Brands discusses economic, political, technological and social changes which resulted in tensions between the poor and the rich, labour and capital, the East and West and whites and blacks in the 1890s America. Brands begins with Fredrick Jackson Turner in chapter one, giving an account of the closing of the frontier with a move towards adopting imperialism (2). He goes on to give an account of legal, economic and political history of great men and their followers, whom they exploited. Efficiency, availability of resources and ruthlessness saw the rise of John Pierpont Morgan, Andrew Carnegie and John D. Rockefeller. While they amassed wealth for themselves, those at the bottom of the economic heap earned poorly, an account in chapter three given by a journalist, Jacob Riis, which Jane Addams also contributed to. The lords of Chicago and Tammany bosses of New York City corruptibly laid the foundation for a big city government. In the fourth chapter, Brands focuses on the labour movement, giving a description of Eugene Debs’ career, the strike of Pullman and the bizarre incidence involving Coxey’s Army (129). Populism arose due to agricultural depression and immense division on the standard of gold, factors that also promoted the unsuccessful, though democratic presidency bid for William Jennings Bryan. The 1896 Supreme Court ruling of Plessy vs. Ferguson promoted the erosion of black civil rights through acceptance of separate, though equal, measure. The imperialistic country thus found a reason to get involved in Hawaii, the Philippines, Venezuela and Cuba. Thus, Brands, through this book, gives a vivid narrative of momentous challenges that faced America towards an uncertain future. The author perceives the existence of parallels between the then America and the current one which still faces social, economic, political and technological challenges.
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Brands, H. W. The Reckless Decade: America in the 1890s. New York, NY: St. Martin’s P., 1995. Read More
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