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The Unfinished Journey

America Since World War II

Ninth Edition

Author William H. Chafe

Publication Date - 23 December 2021

ISBN: 9780190919771

704 pages
6 1/8 x 9 1/4 inches

In Stock

This popular and classic text chronicles America's roller-coaster journey through the decades since World War II


Brilliantly written by a prize-winning historian, The Unfinished Journey, Ninth Edition, considers both the paradoxes and the possibilities of postwar America. William H. Chafe portrays the significant cultural and political themes that have colored our country's past and present, including issues of race, class, gender, foreign policy, and economic and social reform. The new edition offers a greatly enhanced visual program, with over 40 new photos and 20 new maps, graphs, and tables.

New to this Edition

  • Extraneous detail was removed from several chapters, in particular chapters 1, 5, and 19
  • A new Chapter 20, entitled "The Trump Years," examines the presidential elections of 2016 and 2020, assesses Trump's tumultuous time in office, and looks at the great crises the nation faced at the end of his term
  • The book's illustration program has been significantly enhanced, with over 40 new photos and over 20 new maps, figures, and tables. The addition of these visual elements greatly enhances the design and accessibility of The Unfinished Journey
  • A timeline gives the reader a brief overview of key developments in American history from World War II to 2021
  • A test-item file and Power Point slides of all the photos and maps in the Ninth Edition are available to adopters

About the Author(s)

William H. Chafe is Alice Mary Baldwin Professor of History Emeritus at Duke University. He is a former president of the Organization of American Historians and his books have been recognized with the Robert F. Kennedy Book Award (1981), the Sidney Hillman Book Award (1994), and the Lillian Smith Book Award (2003).


"It is the best, one-volume survey of U.S. history since 1945 available on the market today. Written by a top scholar, The Unfinished Journey provides a comprehensive account of modern American history that manages to be analytical as well. Chafe's overarching narrative--that Americans' ongoing struggle to achieve a more perfect union has hinged on a series of turning points--helps students make sense of the often bewildering array of events, currents, and counter-currents that have beset the US since 1945."--M. Todd Bennett, East Carolina University

"The Unfinished Journey is a well-written narrative that brings individual characters to life, from presidents and generals to less well known figures. The book provides a balanced perspective on various hot-button historical issues and events, and should provide basis for far-ranging class discussions. The book is particularly strong in its historical analysis. Moments in the past that may appear bewildering to contemporary students are explained and parsed thoughtfully, allowing students to connect past and present effectively."--William S. Bush, Texas A&M University-San Antonio

"The Unfinished Journey is a book that immediately engages students at all levels to consider the complexities and paradoxes of modern America. There is no other book that incorporates social, political, economic, and cultural history as well as Chafe's. It is far more than a mere textbook. It contains a thesis about the state of modern America that many other books lack, or don't have the insight or courage to state."--Tracy Campbell, University of Kentucky

Table of Contents


    1. The War Years
    Making the War Real on the Home Front
    Mobilizing the Economy
    Black Americans
    Other Minorities
    Politics at Home

    2. Origins of the Cold War
    The Historical Context
    The War Years
    Negotiating Peace
    Finding a Path of Mutual Accommodation
    Cold War Issues

    3. Truman and the Cold War
    The Challenge of the Presidency
    Nuclear Weapons and American Lives
    The Soviet Agenda
    Declaration of the Cold War
    "Two Camps"
    Causes and Interpretations

    4. "The Other Half of the Walnut"
    Social Reform and Activism in the Postwar Years
    The Politics of 1945
    The Experience of Women
    The Black Experience
    The Experience of Labor
    The Politics of Anticommunism
    The Election of 1948
    "The Other Half of the Walnut"

    5. The Paradox of Change
    American Society in the Postwar Years
    Economic Growth
    Suburbia and Consumerism
    Family Life and Sex Roles
    TV and Popular Culture
    Politics of the Fifties
    The Critique of Conformity

    6. The Civil Rights Movement
    "The Gods Bring Threads to Webs Begun"
    The Court Fight
    The Response to Brown
    White Southern Resistance
    The Montgomery Movement
    The Sit-in Movement
    The Movement Spreads

    7. John F. Kennedy
    The Reality and the Myth
    The Kennedy Career
    The Kennedy Frame of Reference
    The Kennedy Record
    Kennedy's Foreign Policy
    The Year of Promise

    8. LBJ
    The Trial of Consensus
    The Early Years
    Domination, Control, and Consensus
    A New President Takes Hold
    Transcending Regional Conflict
    The Great Society and the War on Poverty
    Community Action Programs

    9. Vietnam-The Early Years
    The Cold War and Korea
    "Aggression Doesn't Pay"
    The History of American Involvement in Vietnam 1950-61
    American Policy in Vietnam
    The Kennedy Years

    10. "Lyndon's War"
    The Johnson Approach to Foreign Policy
    The Road to Disaster
    "Into the Big Muddy"
    The Dissenters
    The Quagmire Gets Deeper

    11. Coming Apart at Home
    From Civil Rights to Black Power-A Paradigm
    The Student Movement
    The Emergence of Women's Liberation
    The Counter-response
    The White House Response

    12. 1968
    January and February
    The Struggle of Robert F. Kennedy
    Lyndon Johnson
    Martin Luther King, Jr., RFK, and Eugene McCarthy
    The Year Comes to a Climax-The Conventions and Election

    13. "Bringing Us Together"
    The Nixon Presidency: Rhetoric and Reality
    Nixon's Southern Strategy
    Foreign Policy
    White House Control over Foreign Affairs
    "Us" Against "Them"
    The Demise of the Left
    An Appeal to "Middle Americans"
    The Downfall of the Imperial President

    14. An Era of Political Malaise
    Political Bewilderment
    A "Trusteeship"
    The Reagan Revolution
    The "New Right"

    15. A Divided Culture, a Divided Society
    The Positive Legacy of the 1960s
    The Other Side of the Coin
    American Attitudes Toward Welfare
    A New Economy

    16. The Reagan Years
    The Reagan Credo
    The Domestic and Foreign Policy Agendas
    Prosperity Returns
    The 1984 Election
    Falling Apart
    Long-Term Consequences
    Reaching New Heights

    17. The 1990s
    A Referendum on the Post-World War II Years
    The Reagan Legacy-George Bush
    The 1992 Presidential Election
    The First Clinton Administration
    Topsy-Turvy: The 1994 Elections
    Clinton/Dole-A Decision or a Stand-off?
    The Second Clinton Presidency
    The Basic Issues

    18. 2000 and Beyond
    The 2000 Election
    The 2000 Post-Election Debacle
    The First Bush Administration
    September 11, 2001
    The Bush Response
    The Aftermath
    The 2004 Election
    The Second Term

    19. Barack Obama
    A Utopian Vision Confronts Political Reality
    The Election
    The First Two Years
    The Second Two Years
    A Nuanced Approach to Foreign Policy
    Who Would Win?
    Obama's Victory

    20. The Trump Years
    The 2016 Election
    "Making America Great Again"
    The Trump Administration and North Korea
    A Nation in Crisis
    The 2020 Election
    Breaking Old Rules

    Bibliographical Essay

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