A character-driven look at a pivotal period in American history, 1917-1920: the tumultuous home front during WWI and its aftermath, when violence broke out across the country thanks to the first Red Scare, labor strife, and immigration battles.
A story worth telling, and in American Midnight, the historian Adam Hochschild...recounts it with verve and insight ... This is, to be sure, history with a purpose, not a search for a 'usable history' that seeks a past that provides comfort and moral elevation for the present. The purpose here is prevention ... In examining this forgotten hiccough in the country’s history, we encounter several unforgettable figures who come to life on these pages ... This book is, above all, a chronicle of dissent in a democracy, setting forth in vivid languages the abuses and extremes that characterized the period during and shortly after the great crusade ... Much of what Hochschild examines in this volume will be news to his readers. It is, ultimately, news we all can use.
Masterly ... Something of a specialist in the annals of atrocity, Hochschild spares no detail in American Midnight ... Hochschild in American Midnight stages a morality tale. There is an extensive cast of villains ... Hochschild includes every twist and turn ... Hochschild’s sharp portraits and vignettes make for poignant reading, but at times skirt fuller historical understanding. We hear about newspapers and magazines being shut down, but little about what was being argued in them ... Hochschild attributes much of the failure of American socialists to expand their ranks to the racism and xenophobia that bedeviled the white working class. But there were also significant problems of organization in the American labor movement.
Hochschild compiles ample research and evidence to remind readers of a shameful chapter in U.S. history that has echoes in many conflicts since ... Hochschild realizes that the tragedy comes with a dash of absurdity, even comedy ... American Midnight is a potent reminder of what happens when open discourse is systemically punished.