Summary and book reviews of America 1900 by Judy Crichton

America 1900

The Turning Point

By Judy Crichton

America 1900
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  • Hardcover: Oct 1998,
    288 pages.
    Paperback: May 2000,
    339 pages.

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Book Summary

In January 1, 1900, as Americans tried to divine the future of the twentieth century, what no one could foresee was that the issues they were dealing with were much the same as those that would face their grandchildren and great-grandchildren in the year 2000. Change had come so fast that there was an almost magical belief in the powers of science and technology. The country had never been more prosperous but the disparity between rich and poor had never been greater. Slavery was dead but racism was growing.

The narrative begins New Year's Day in Washington, D.C., as President McKinley shrugs off warnings that his life may be in danger. Never far from the seat of power is Theodore Roosevelt, "the coming American of the twentieth century." Throughout the year, as Crichton details one event after the other--the greatest mine disaster in American history; the banning of a salacious play; an historic election campaign; the Galveston flood; the Harvard-Yale football game; a great labor victory; the emergence of the first billion-dollar corporation--the forces of the future are moving into place.

From Chapter One:
New Year's Day

On January 1, in Washington, D.C., a fresh fall of snow about an inch deep was brightening the city. Skaters were out on the Potomac and in Rock Creek Park, horse-drawn sleighs moved through the woods in splendid isolation. At the Capitol, where the old gaslight posts had finally been removed, cinders were being scattered on the icy steps. With Congress in recess and the federal bureaus closed, the city was even quieter than usual. But midmorning the Sabbath-like stillness was broken by the warning gongs of trolleys as crowds crammed on streetcars heading for the White House.

The diplomatic corps was out in full regalia; there were more women wearing tiaras in the morning than even the oldest reporter could recall. Elegant carriages, their wheels creaking on the hard-packed snow, with coachmen and footmen on the box, jockeyed for position on Pennsylvania Avenue. At the edge of the city, in a curiously shaped modern studio, Frances Benjamin ...

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Reviews

Media Reviews
Library Journal

....offers readers a cross section of life in the United States in 1900, with due attention to the experiences of women and African Americans and intriguing snapshots of people who would gain fame in the 20th century. The result is a pleasant if not incisive overview of the nation as it stood on the verge of a new century. Readers who want an introduction to the year might well find this effort worthwhile.

Publishers Weekly

Crichton's text and numerous images capture the mood of the era and smartly introduce general readers to a key epoch of the American experience.

Kirkus Reviews

Crichton keeps us focused on 1900 throughout, eschewing the temptation to continually draw lessons for the future, yet it is impossible to avoid thinking about whether that year's trauma and triumph, corruption and character, would be preferable to our own. Somehow a president's sexual dalliances seem comparatively superficial. Then again, we are not yet to the year 2000. An extremely enjoyable account.

Reader Reviews
Joe

A Great Book- demonstrates how far we have come as a nation in a century- but more striking is how short we've come.

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