A Social History 1877-1898, Book Review Example

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Book Review

American Populism covers extremely significant economic event that unraveled near the close of the 19th Century.  A main point that McMath is trying to make throughout the book is the importance of change for the common wealth of all. The emphasis of this book is on the importance of cultural, political, and social movement. Populism, regardless of the degree of necessity, typically goes along with a revolt. The writer also depicts the details of social groups and their resistance against such changes. McMath refers to the theory of populism as “resource mobilization” and recognizes that it can be more than only a rural revolt.

Robert C. McMath Jr. wrote the American Populism: A Social History 1877-1898 as historical genre to the reconstructive period in the United States. However, vivid or descriptive his writing was, it was extremely narrow minded as depicted in the overall reality of populism. Meaning to title a work as “American Populism” (McMath 129) a writer should include what that entails, not just small or opinionated incite.

This book, regardless of the narrow variety of populism, is historically significant in crisis the hit the American farming region. He clearly addressed the battles of the industrializations and their ability to take over every facet of development. McMath also explained the economic and social networks of the rural community, like the church, fraternal organizations, and trade unions and the ways that they fought back. This is very significant in history because it is a detailed account of the how an organizational structure utilized the dynamics to fight back.  It also gives account of additional both communal and political battles they had to face. “At state level the ‘war of maneuver’ in which populist operated between the line of two major parties could sustain viable movements for a time, but even there populist were at risk of being counted out by the party strong enough to the electoral process.” (McMath  209)

The timeframe for this book is the late 19th century.These events of the book began shortly after the Depression of 1873. The location addresses the declining agricultural regions of upstate New York as well as the Southern and Great Plains. It also depicts the hardship of the farmers on the Texas frontier.

The various viewpoints that the writer is trying to address can be seen as segregated to his own contributions. He takes a narrow variety of populism and uses that as the entirety of the problem that America faces with populism. In this book, the viewpoints are on agrarian farming movements. There should have been greater depth put in viewpoints of populism and less on rural revolt. The groups affected by populism include school, church, fraternal organizations, and trade unions. He writes how cooperative marketing and purchasing can be done by a single alliance. Movement organizers would recruit new members to pursue common interest of populist. The interaction, however, mostly failed when it came to unity.

The author, Robert C. McMath Jr., is the dean of University of Arkansas Honors College. He is also a Historian. He has written or co-authored seven books on American history. (Georgia Tech Office of Assessment)His viewpoints may be questioned by critics but never his credibility as a Historian. American Populism: A Social History 1877-1898 is a means to educate individuals of a very important time in history. It shows the importance of populism and the effects on everyone involved.

McMath researched the subject thoroughly. Knowing the battles of the times, and situations that demanded the populism shows throughout the entire book. He was able to paint a descriptive picture of the events that were taking place. For example, in 1888 the jute manufacturer raised its prices 60% on the eve of the cotton harvest. That could have a devastating effect for any farmer, and their outrage is visible. The sources were the economy, the limited resources, and society itself. The book was good; it painted a picture of a day and age where change was necessary. It did not change any personal viewpoints or opinions because it was a very narrow viewpoint of what populism consists of.

Reference

McMath, Robert C. Jr.  American Populism: A Social History 1877-1898.  New York, ​Hill and Wang. Print.  1992.

Bob McMath. Georgia Tech Office of Assessment.  Retrieved from:​http://www.assessment.gatech.edu/SACS/QEP/bios/mcmath.php.

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