Restless Giant: The United States From Watergate to Bush v. Gore

    Many people offered helpful comments on earlier drafts of this book and in so doing enabled me to bring forth the final version. Among these are former and current graduate students at Brown University, where I taught United States history from 1972 until 2002. They include Richard Canedo, Robert Fleegler, and Daniel Williams. John Snyder, a long-ago undergraduate research assistant, had an important role in shaping my prologue. I also thank present and former history faculty colleagues at Brown who criticized various draft chapters: Philip Benedict, Howard Chudacoff, Carl Kaestle, Luther Spoehr, John Thomas, and Gordon Wood. Cherrie Guerzon of the history department offered expert assistance in editing and distributing a series of drafts. Other scholars whose advice improved substantial parts of drafts include William Berman, John Morton Blum, Gareth Davies, Michael Heale, Morton Keller, David Patterson, Tom Roberts, Daniel Rodgers, John Skrentny, Alan Wolfe, and Joshua Zeitz.
    Tony Badger, Brian Balogh, Gareth Davies, Townsend Ludington, John Thompson, and Stephen Tuck invited me to present overviews of my book to informed audiences. My children, Stephen Patterson and Marnie Cochran, encouraged me to rethink some of my ideas. Susan Ferber of Oxford University Press commented constructively on some of my chapters. Others at the press who provided vital help in the production process include Joellyn Ausanka, India Cooper (who copyedited the manuscript), and Furaha Norton.
    I am especially grateful to the following, all of whom carefully evaluated one or another draft of the entire manuscript: Steven Gillon, Michael Klarman, and Bruce Schulman. Andrew Huebner commented thoughtfully and at length on an entire early draft. Trevor O’Driscoll, a former Brown student, joined me in going over every line of a near-final draft. His perceptive eye caught many errors of fact and interpretation. The extensive comments of David Kennedy, general editor of the Oxford History of the United States series, and of Peter Ginna, my editor at Oxford University Press, were invaluable.
    My wife, Cynthia, was a constant source of encouragement and advice. Without her intelligent and patient help I would have needed far more time to write this book.
    Providence, R.I.
May 2005

    James Patterson

Editor’s Introduction

    Grand Expectations: The United States, 1945–1974, James Patterson’s earlier volume in The Oxford History of the United States, opened with a masterful evocation of the exuberant American mood in the post–World War II years—a time aptly characterized by the novelist Philip Roth as “the greatest moment of collective inebriation in American history . . . the clock of history reset and a whole people’s aims limited no longer by the past” ( American Pastoral , 40–41). Grand Expectations went on to chronicle the remorseless tempering of that extravagant mood in the cauldron of postwar history, as events like the hardening Cold War, the escalating nuclear arms race, the scourge of McCarthyism, the bloody American humiliation in Vietnam, the struggles to secure full citizenship for African Americans and women, the abortive war on poverty, and the assassinations of John and Robert Kennedy, Malcolm X, and Martin Luther King Jr. provided painful reminders that reality would not easily yield to the aspirations of history’s most hopeful dreamers, even at the height of their national power and self-confidence. Grand Expectations concluded with the trauma of the Watergate scandal, which Patterson used to write a mordant epitaph for the inflated expectations of the post–World War II generation.
    Restless Giant begins where Grand Expectations left off, in the sour atmosphere of disenchantment left in the wake of President Richard Nixon’s disgrace and resignation. But if Grand Expectations told a story about chastised innocence, about a people reluctantly forced to disenthrall themselves from easy assumptions

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