As coordinator of the national period of the program of the History of the New World, Professor Griffin had a difficult and unenviable task. In order to cope with the problems of vast amounts of material, certain neglected aspects and regions, and the rapidity of social and economic changes, he and his associates were obliged to abandon the approach used for the colonial period and to divide the national era into periods. This type of division cannot always fit all countries at all times, for the rate of change has been uneven. It does provide a framework for comprehending general trends.
The first period considered was roughly from 1763 to 1826, the time of movements for independence. The second goes to 1870, and concerns the trials of independent nationhood and political consolidation. The third continues to 1918, with emphasis on rapid economic growth and increasing production, and on political and intellectual ferment. This reviewer would prefer 1930 to 1918 as ending this era ; 1930 was a time of extremely significant change, while 1918 hints at European rather than hemispheric influences. It must be conceded, however, that all of the dates used to separate the periods are approximate. The final period comes down to mid-century.
In order to compensate for the lack of continuity in the treatment of regions inherent in this approach, the author added a section called “Regional Comparisons of Aspects of American Life” to the outline at the end of each of the major periodic divisions.
In the conclusion of the Coordinator’s Preface, Professor Griffin says: “The direction ... of American history of our own time is toward a greater autodetermination than has been the case in the past. Though the contacts of America with Europe and Asia are far closer now than they were a century ago, the self-conscious and aloof America of the nineteenth century (whether Latin or Anglo-Saxon) was much more European than is the America of today.. . . Extracontinental traditions and attractions and repulsions, operating variously on different parts of the two western continents, still divide their peoples politically, economically, and culturally. They have a common history, hut it is only part of their history.”
The volume will be of interest to students wishing to view the forest as well as the trees. The Coordinator’s Preface will have an even wider interest among those who contemplate the problems of hemispheric history.