Nell Irvin Painter


Short Study Guide for Standing at Armageddon: The United States, 1877-1919

5 October 1999

Good Afternoon, Professor Zeidel,

Thanks for your gracious comments about STANDING AT ARMAGEDDON. I'm delighted that readers are finding the book interesting and useful. What follows isn't exactly an outline, but I hope it'll give your teachers a clearer sense of what I wanted to do in the book. ARMAGEDDON aims to show readers:

1. What happened. Having read a million American history books in which the writer engages other historians without letting readers know the events and figures being discussed, I wanted to lay out a narrative political history that clearly explained important events and people in the national political life of the period.

2. Where the money came from and where it went. I thought it important for readers to understand the economic issues that lay at the bottom of crucial political controversies, especially taxation--including tariffs and income taxes--currency, and the federal reserve system.

3. Ordinary people's part in national political history. Because most Americans at the time were (and still are) working people, their situation and their influence on the political economy of the time lie at the center of ARMAGEDDON.

4. The integration of international issues with domestic policy, which is how Americans experienced them. Therefore the chapters on foreign wars explain how they played out in domestic politics, and when Woodrow Wilson goes to Paris and Versailles, ARMAGEDDON remains focused on American domestic issues--such as inflation and strikes.

5. A definition of "Americans" that doesn't exclude people whose citizenship was compromised, e.g., white women and people of color.

All in all, I didn't want ARMAGEDDON to come off as a provincial American history with blinders on.

Best Wishes,
Nell Painter

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