American Midnight: The Great War, a Violent Peace, and Democracy's Forgotten Crisis (Hardcover)

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Description


From legendary historian Adam Hochschild, a groundbreaking reassessment of the overlooked but startlingly resonant period between World War I and the Roaring Twenties, when the foundations of American democracy were threated by war, pandemic, and violence fueled by battles over race, immigration, and the rights of labor

"A riveting, resonant account of the fragility of freedom.”—Kirkus, STARRED review

The nation was on the brink. Mobs burned Black churches to the ground. Courts threw thousands of people into prison for opinions they voiced—in one notable case, only in private. Self-appointed vigilantes executed tens of thousands of citizens’ arrests. Some seventy-five newspapers and magazines were banned from the mail and forced to close. When the government stepped in, it was often to fan the flames.  

This was America during and after the Great War: a brief but appalling era blighted by lynchings, censorship, and the sadistic, sometimes fatal abuse of conscientious objectors in military prisons—a time whose toxic currents of racism, nativism, red-baiting, and contempt for the rule of law then flowed directly through the intervening decades to poison our own. It was a tumultuous period defined by a diverse and colorful cast of characters, some of whom fueled the injustice while others fought against it: from the sphinxlike Woodrow Wilson, to the fiery antiwar advocates Kate Richards O’Hare and Emma Goldman, to labor champion Eugene Debs, to a little-known but ambitious bureaucrat named J. Edgar Hoover, and to an outspoken leftwing agitator—who was in fact Hoover’s star undercover agent. It is a time that we have mostly forgotten about, until now. 

In American Midnight, award-winning historian Adam Hochschild brings alive the horrifying yet inspiring four years following the U.S. entry into the First World War, spotlighting forgotten repression while celebrating an unforgettable set of Americans who strove to fix their fractured country—and showing how their struggles still guide us today.  

About the Author


ADAM HOCHSCHILD is the author of ten books. King Leopold’s Ghost was a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award, as was To End All Wars. His Bury the Chains was a finalist for the National Book Award and won the Los Angeles Times Book Prize and PEN USA Literary Award. He lives in Berkeley, California.

Praise For…


“A sweeping look at the years between World War I and the Roaring Twenties, when conscientious objectors to the war were maltreated and conflicts over race and labor were at a high pitch. Hochschild draws direct lines between events of that time and the unrest of today.”
New York Times

“In the years between our entry into WWI and the start of the so-called Roaring 20s, Americans argued about freedom, plurality, and equal rights; it was a time of political violence, racist mobs, and book-banning. Hochschild narrates a time as unsettled, frightening, and (perhaps) transformative as our own.” — Boston Globe

“At the end of the Great War, Europe was in tatters, its economies ruined and a generation of men lost. The postwar crumbling of European governments spooked American capitalism and its proponents. And as Hochschild skillfully demonstrates, the Wilson government made a sharp turn toward authoritarianism. During a brutal crackdown on opposition, dissent became a criminal offense and Reconstruction was dealt a death blow. American democracy almost didn’t survive its own war at home.” — Los Angeles Times

“Brilliant historian Adam Hochschild … takes on the echoing years — a century ago — when pandemic and fire-stoking politicians buckled society." — Chicago Tribune

“Exceptionally well written, impeccably organized, and filled with colorful, fully developed historical characters. … A riveting, resonant account of the fragility of freedom in one of many shameful periods in U.S. history.”  — Kirkus Reviews (starred review)

“Meticulously researched, fluidly written, and frequently enraging, this is a timely reminder of the ‘vigilant respect for civil rights and Constitutional safeguards’ needed to protect democracy and forestall authoritarianism.” — Publishers Weekly (starred review)

 “Award-winning historian Adam Hochschild (King Leopold's GhostTo End All Wars and Bury the Chains) provides a timely, fast-paced, revelatory new account of a pivotal but neglected period in American history: World War I and its stormy aftermath, when bloodshed and repression on the home front nearly doomed American democracy. The period's toxic currents of racism, nativism, red-baiting, and contempt for the rule of law feel ominously familiar today.” — Shelf Awareness

Product Details
ISBN: 9780358455462
ISBN-10: 0358455464
Publisher: Mariner Books
Publication Date: October 4th, 2022
Pages: 432
Language: English