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Oxford History of the United States

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Title: Oxford History of the United States  
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Subject: Battle Cry of Freedom (book), Daniel Walker Howe,, American studies in the United Kingdom, Oxford University Press
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Oxford History of the United States

The Oxford History of the United States (1982–2016)[1] is an ongoing multi-volume narrative history of the United States published by Oxford University Press.

Series overview

Cover of the 2nd edition of The Glorious Cause

Woodward editorship

The series originated in the 1950s with a plan laid out by historians C. Vann Woodward and Richard Hofstadter for a multi-volume history of the United States, one that would provide a summary of the political, social, and cultural history of the nation for a general audience.[2] The project proved to be more challenging than initially envisioned, however. New fields of historical study emerged in the 1960s, and personal issues intervened for some of the authors.[3] Among the historians connected with the series at one time or another were Willie Lee Rose, Morton Keller, John Lewis Gaddis, Stanley Elkins and Eric McKitrick. Though some of these historians completed books as a result of their respective assignments, none of them was published as part of the series.[4]

The first volume published in the series, Robert Middlekauff's The Glorious Cause: The American Revolution, 1763–1789, finally was released in 1982 (ISBN 0-19-502921-6). Included on the rear dust jacket flap to the original hardcover edition was a projected outline for the series at that point:

  • Volume 1: Colonial America by T. H. Breen
  • Volume 2: The Glorious Cause by Robert Middlekauff
  • Volume 3: Early National America, 1789–1815 by Gordon S. Wood
  • Volume 4: Jacksonian America, 1815–1846 by Charles Grier Sellers
  • Volume 5: The Civil War by James M. McPherson
  • Volume 6: Reconstruction and Industrial America by George M. Fredrickson
  • Volume 7: Early 20th Century America, 1900–1930 by William H. Harbaugh
  • Volume 8: The New Deal, 1930–1945 by David M. Kennedy
  • Volume 9: Postwar America, 1945–1968 by William E. Leuchtenburg
  • Volume 10: The American Economy by Stuart Bruchey
  • Volume 11: American Diplomacy by Norman A. Graebner

McPherson's volume on the Civil War and its causes was subsequently published in 1988 as Battle Cry of Freedom: The Civil War Era. Two more volumes followed under Woodward's editorship. Volume 10, Grand Expectations: The United States, 1945–1974 by James T. Patterson, was published in 1997, while Volume 9, David Kennedy's Freedom From Fear: The American People in Depression and War, 1929–1945, was published in 1999. Sellers's contribution was published separately from the series in 1991 as The Market Revolution: Jacksonian America, 1815–1846 (ISBN 0-19-503889-4), supposedly for its excessive focus on the economics of the era, and the volume reassigned to another historian.

Kennedy editorship

After Woodward's death in 1999, David Kennedy assumed the editorship of the series. Since the start of his tenure, in addition to the revised and expanded edition of Middlekauff's book, four more volumes have appeared: Volume 11, Restless Giant: The United States from Watergate to Bush v. Gore by James T. Patterson, which was published in 2005 (ISBN 0-19-512216-X), Volume 5, [5]

Herring's 2008 book From Colony to Superpower will be republished in November 2017 in a new two-volume paperback edition: Years of Peril and Ambition: US Foreign Relations, 1776–1921 (ISBN 9780190212469),[6] featuring a new introduction covering this period, and The American Century and Beyond: US Foreign Relations, 1893-2014 (ISBN 9780190212476),[7] also with a new introduction on the period, as well as a new chapter bringing the original book's timeline up to 2014.

A volume written by H. W. Brands covering Gilded Age America — Leviathan: America Comes of Age, 1865–1900 — was also to be published as part of the series, but was withdrawn in 2006[4] and published outside the Oxford History series in October 2010 as American Colossus: The Triumph of Capitalism, 1865-1900.


Volume Author Title Release date Pages ISBN Awards
1 Peter Mancall American Origins 2017 TBA TBA
2 Fred Anderson and Andrew Cayton Imperial America, 1674–1763 2016 TBA TBA
3 Robert Middlekauff The Glorious Cause: The American Revolution, 1763–1789 1982; 2005 (2nd ed.) 760 Nominated for 1983 Pulitzer Prize for History
4 Gordon S. Wood Empire of Liberty: A History of the Early Republic, 1789–1815 2009 800 Nominated for 2010 Pulitzer Prize for History
5 Daniel Walker Howe What Hath God Wrought: The Transformation of America, 1815–1848 2007 928 Won the 2008 Pulitzer Prize for History
6 James M. McPherson Battle Cry of Freedom: The Civil War Era 1988 904 Won the 1989 Pulitzer Prize for History
7 Richard White The Long Crisis 2016 TBA TBA
8 Bruce Schulman Reawakened Nation: The Birth of Modern America, 1896–1929 unknown TBA
9 David M. Kennedy Freedom From Fear: The American People in Depression and War, 1929–1945 1999 990 Won the 2000 Pulitzer Prize for History
10 James T. Patterson Grand Expectations: The United States, 1945–1974 1996 880 Won the 1997 Bancroft Prize
11 James T. Patterson Restless Giant: The United States from Watergate to Bush v. Gore 2005 448
12 George Herring From Colony to Superpower: U.S. Foreign Relations Since 1776 2008; 2017 (2nd ed.) 1056 Nominated for the 2008 National Book Critics Circle Award


For the most part, the publication of each volume has been greeted with laudatory reviews. Three of the volumes (McPherson's Battle Cry of Freedom, Kennedy's Freedom from Fear, and Howe's What Hath God Wrought) were awarded the Pulitzer Prize for History upon their publication.[8][9] Middlekauff's Glorious Cause and Wood's Empire of Liberty were finalists for the prize in 1982 and 2010, respectively.[10] Patterson's Grand Expectations also received the 1997 Bancroft Prize in American history,[11] and Kennedy's Freedom from Fear also received the 2000 Francis Parkman Prize.

When originally published in hardcover, McPherson's Battle Cry of Freedom spent 16 weeks on The New York Times Best Seller list, and an additional 3 months for the subsequent paperback edition.[12]

However, in October 2006 issue of the Atlantic Monthly, the magazine's book editor, Benjamin Schwarz, condemned some of the titles in the Oxford History of the United States as "bloated and intellectually flabby." He argued that volumes 9 through 11 in the series compared unfavorably to the entries in the New Oxford History of England, maintaining that the volumes "lack the intellectual refinement, analytic sharpness, and stylistic verve" of their English counterparts.[13] Schwarz wrote his review when only five volumes in the series were available, and he specifically exempted two (McPherson's Battle Cry of Freedom and Middlekauff's Glorious Cause) from his criticisms.

Earlier work

In 1927, Oxford University Press published a two-volume history of the United States by Samuel Eliot Morison, entitled The Oxford History of the United States, 1783–1917.[14]


  1. ^
  2. ^
  3. ^
  4. ^ a b
  5. ^
  6. ^
  7. ^
  8. ^ Pulitzer Citation for "What Hath God Wrought"
  9. ^ Pulitzer Citation for "Freedom From Fear"
  10. ^ List of Pulitzer winners and nominees
  11. ^ List of Bancroft Prize winners
  12. ^
  13. ^
  14. ^

External links

  • Oxford University Press: Oxford History of the United States
  • C-SPAN's BookTV panel with series historians David Kennedy, James McPherson, Robert Middlekauff, James T. Patterson, and moderator John Avlon (September 20, 2005)
  • The Glorious Cause: The American Revolution, 1763– Book Review — Oxford History of the United States #03: , The Atlantic Monthly, 1 March 2005
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