Forging America: a Continental History

“Forging America” speaks to both the complexities of historical experience and the meanings of the past for our present-day lives. Warning against the assumption of preordained outcomes, Pulitzer-Prize-winning historian Steve Hahn focuses the reader’s attention on those moments when historical change occurs. He weaves a history that is continental and transnational, a history of the many peoples whose experiences and aspirations –oftentimes involving struggle and conflict– went into the forging of a nation. Episode 543.

Buzzkill Bookshelf

Steven Hahn, Forging America: A Continental History of the United States

Encourages the reader to recognize that history is a continuous process of discovery, and that history is a way of learning and thinking.

Use multiple and shifting perspectives to narrate the history of the United States and to focus the readers’ attention on those moments when historical change occurs.

Reorients the narrative trajectory so that the Pacific world is as much a part of United States history as the Atlantic world has been.

Breaks with convention by striving, whenever possible, to map continuity and change from the perspectives of the people who lived through them. Instead of relying exclusively on standard projections that show the United States with an east-west and north-south orientation, many of the maps in the “Mapping America” feature in each chapter show events from a south-north or west-east perspective.

Uses images to convey the substance and meaning of differing perspectives, and to show how people envisioned the world around them. Every chapter includes a “Perspectives” feature that pairs two contrasting images.

Emphasizes the contingency of history–that those who lived at times when important historical events took place did not themselves know what the outcome would be. Every chapter ends with a “What If?” section: an alternative outcome accompanied by original source materials for students to consider, discuss, and debate.

Integrated directly in the e-book at no extra charge, the audio book for Forging America provides another mode for engaging with the text. Each chapter is narrated by a professional actor. Music and sound effects enhance the listening experience. Go to to listen to a sample.

The e-book includes nearly 100 primary sources, embedded at the end of each chapter, and edited specifically to accompany Forging America. 

Posted in