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Restless Giant

The United States from Watergate to Bush v. Gore

James T. Patterson

Publication Date - March 2007

ISBN: 9780195305227

464 pages
5-15/16 x 8-7/8 inches

Retail Price to Students: $24.95

A panoramic account of recent American history, from the last days of Watergate through the first year of the new century


In Restless Giant, acclaimed historical author James Patterson provides a crisp, concise assessment of the twenty-seven years between the resignation of Richard Nixon and the election of George W. Bush in a sweeping narrative that seamlessly weaves together social, cultural, political, economic, and international developments. We meet the era's many memorable figures and explore the "culture wars" between liberals and conservatives that appeared to split the country in two.

Patterson describes how America began facing bewildering developments in places such as Panama, Somalia, Bosnia, and Iraq, and discovered that it was far from easy to direct the outcome of global events, and at times even harder for political parties to reach a consensus over what attempts should be made. At the same time, domestic issues such as the persistence of racial tensions, high divorce rates, alarm over crime, and urban decay led many in the media to portray the era as one of decline. Patterson offers a more positive perspective, arguing that, despite our often unmet expectations, we were in many ways better off than we thought. By 2000, most Americans lived more comfortably than they had in the 1970s, and though bigotry and discrimination were far from extinct, a powerful rights consciousness insured that these were less pervasive in American life than at any time in the past.

With insightful analyses and engaging prose, Restless Giant captures this period of American history in a way that no other book has, illuminating the road that the United States traveled from the dismal days of the mid-1970s through the hotly contested election of 2000.

The Oxford History of the United States
The Oxford History of the United States is the most respected multi-volume history of our nation. The series includes three Pulitzer Prize winners, a New York Times bestseller, and winners of the Bancroft and Parkman Prizes. The Atlantic Monthly has praised it as "the most distinguished series in American historical scholarship," a series that "synthesizes a generation's worth of historical inquiry and knowledge into one literally state-of-the-art book." Conceived under the general editorship of C. Vann Woodward and Richard Hofstadter, and now under the editorship of David M. Kennedy, this renowned series blends social, political, economic, cultural, diplomatic, and military history into coherent and vividly written narrative.


  • A crisp, concise assessment of the twenty-seven years between the resignation of Richard Nixon and the election of George W. Bush
  • Illuminates the road that the United States traveled from the dismal days of the mid-1970s through the hotly contested election of 2000.

About the Author(s)

James T. Patterson is Ford Foundation Professor of History Emeritus at Brown University. One of the most highly respected historians of contemporary America, he is the author of Grand Expectations: The United States, 1945-1974, which won a Bancroft Prize, and Brown v Board of Education: A Civil Rights Milestone and Its Troubled Legacy.


"First-rate history by a first-rate historian....A splendid book that will come to be regarded as indispensable to everyone who cares about the history of this country."--Charles Peters, The New York Times Book Review

"This splendid and readable new book is the latest volume in that ambitious series, 'The Oxford History of the United States....Patterson has risen magnificently to the task of describing and analyzing this rich and confused period....Restless Giant is extraordinarily sharp in its repeated references to and use of American popular culture... He is excellent in his coverage of the rise of the ultra-conservative right."--Paul Kennedy, Washington Post Book World

"Patterson is at his best in recreating the spirit and feel of presidential elections and the legislative and diplomatic achievements--as well as the scandals--of our nation's chief executives....Patterson is a careful historian. Bending over backward to offer his readers a range of perspectives on the phenomena he explores, he appears to be a genuinely fair and balanced scholar....For its thorough and reliable recounting of the period's main developments, 'Restless Giant' is well worth reading."--Eric Arnesen, Chicago Tribune

"Dazzling and erudite, the book thrums with the buzz of ideas coming together....Detached, dispassionate, and drawn to detail, Patterson writes in taut, vivid language, and with illustrative examples on every page. He keeps his judgments terse and defensible."--David Greenberg, American Prospect

"Patterson is a fine historian....Continuing where he ended his prior contribution to the series (Grand Expectations: The United States, 1945-1974), Patterson again combines narrative and analysis in his assessment of an important era in U.S. history. The result is a good survey of the political, economic, foreign policy, social, and cultural trends and events during the presidencies of Ford, Carter, Reagan, Bush, and Clinton.... For all libraries."--Library Journal

"A worthy addition to the highly acclaimed Oxford History of the United States series. A crisp, engaging narrative for readers seeking an easy grasp of the key developments at home and abroad during the last quarter of the 20th century. Patterson's balanced analysis of contending interpretations of these developments will be most useful to readers as they think critically about this recent era in American history."--Parameters

"James Patterson's Restless Giant is a marvel of clarity, fair-mindedness, and narrative power. It is a pleasure to read one of America's best historians as he puts the recent past into such sharp perspective."--Alan Wolfe, author of Return to Greatness: How America Lost Its Sense of Purpose and What It Needs to Do to Recover It

"Jim Patterson has done it again! Restless Giantis a worthy successor to his prize-winning Grand Expectations. Patterson writes with flair, an admirable sense of balance, and complete command of his sources. He covers the full gamut of American life; politics, economics, international affairs, race, sex, and the culture wars all get their due. Anyone wishing to understand modern America would do well to begin with this book."--Michael J. Klarman, author of the Bancroft Prize-winning From Jim Crow to Civil Rights

"Restless Giant provides a comprehensive and authoritative account of American political, cultural, and social developments during the last quarter of the twentieth century. This is elegant history, both fluent and judicious."--John Morton Blum, author of A Life in History, The Progressive Presidents, and V is for Victory

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