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People, Places, and Power: The Story of American Democracy

Of the People

A History of the United States, with Sources

Fifth Edition

Michael McGerr, Camilla Townsend, Karen M. Dunak, Mark Summers, and Jan Ellen Lewis

Volume 1: To 1877 | 768 pp.

eBook: 978-0-19-758598-6, $34.95

loose-leaf: 978-0-19-758596-2, $50.99

paper: 978-0-19-758595-5, $67.95

Volume 2: Since 1865 | 816 pp.

eBook: 978-0-19-758618-1, $34.95

loose-leaf: 978-0-19-758616-7, $50.99

paper: 978-0-19-758615-0, $67.95

About the Book

Of the People: A History of the United States does more than tell the history of America—of its people and places, of its dealings and ideals. It unfolds the story of American democracy, carefully marking how this country’s evolution has been anything but certain, from its complex beginnings to its modern challenges.

The authors see American history as a story “of the people,” of their struggles to shape their lives and their land. Their narrative focuses on the social and political lives of people—some famous, some ordinary—revealing the compelling story of America’s democracy from an individual perspective, from across the landscapes of diverse communities, and ultimately from within the larger context of the world.

The theme of democracy concentrates attention on the most fundamental concerns of history: people and power. These concerns have been especially relevant as the authors completed revising the book for this new edition. The tumultuous presidential campaign of 2020, one of the most divisive in American history, took place in the midst of a deadly pandemic and culminated in the extraordinary storming of the federal Capitol building in Washington, D.C. in January 2021. Recent history is always a challenge and always subject to revision, but the authors have wanted to show how contemporary struggles over democracy are rooted in the past. Their balanced, inclusive approach makes it more possible for teachers and students to deal with the most controversial events.

About the Authors

Michael McGerr is Paul V. McNutt Professor of History at Indiana University-Bloomington.


Camilla Townsend
is Distinguished Professor of History at Rutgers University.

Karen M. Dunak
is Associate Professor of History at Muskingum University.


Mark Summers is Thomas D. Clark Professor of History at the University of Kentucky.


Jan Ellen Lewis was Professor of History and Dean of the Faculty of Arts and Sciences at Rutgers University-Newark.

New to This Edition

Oxford Insight Courseware: The Oxford Insight Courseware delivers high quality content from Oxford University Press within powerful, data-driven courseware designed to optimize student success. The Courseware can be integrated into most learning management systems. Click here for more details.

All versions of the text now include end-of-chapter primary source documents, both textual and visual, designed to reinforce students’ understanding of the material by drawing connections among topics

An intensified focus on the environment, diversity, and immigration throughout, covering such events as the devastation of Tenochtitlan in the face of smallpox in the sixteenth century, the influenza pandemic of 1918, and the Tulsa Race Massacre of 1921

Significantly revised “Who, What, Where” glossary terms, ensuring that the most essential and fundamental ideas, people, and places are consistently highlighted and that the terms are now boldfaced in the text

New “Common Thread” focus questions in many chapters, and new maps in Chapters 25 and 27

New American Portrait, American Landscape, America in the World, and Struggles for Democracy features

Table of Contents

Volume 1: To 1877


1. Worlds in Motion, 1450–1550
2. Colonial Outposts, 1550–1650
3. The English Come to Stay, 1600–1660
4. Continental Empires, 1660–1720
5. The Eighteenth-Century World, 1700–1775
6. Conflict in the Empire, 1713–1774
7. Creating a New Nation, 1775–1788
8. Contested Republic, 1789–1800
9. A Republic in Transition, 1800–1819
10. Jacksonian Democracy, 1820–1840
11. Reform and Conflict, 1820–1848
12. Manifest Destiny, 1836–1848
13. The Politics of Slavery, 1848–1860
14. A War for Union and Emancipation, 1861–1865
15. Reconstructing a Nation, 1865–1877

Volume 2: Since 1865


15. Reconstructing a Nation, 1865–1877

16. The Triumph of Industrial Capitalism, 1850–1890
17. The Culture and Politics of Industrial America, 1870–1892
18. Industry and Empire, 1890–1900
19. A United Body of Action, 1900–1916
20. A Global Power, 1914–1919
21. The Modern Nation, 1919–1928
22. A Great Depression and a New Deal, 1929–1940
23. The Second World War, 1941–1945
24. The Cold War, 1945–1954
25. The Consumer Society, 1945–1961
26. “The Table of Democracy,” 1960–1968
27. Living with Less, 1968–1980
28. The Triumph of Conservatism, 1980–1991
29. The Globalized, Information Society 1989–2008
30. “The American Dream,” 2008–2021

Digital Resources

All new print and electronic versions of Of the People come with access to a full suite of engaging digital learning tools that work with the text to bring content to life and build critical thinking skills.

Digital Access to Of the People includes:


•    New! Oxford Insight Courseware: The Oxford Insight courseware delivers high quality content from Oxford University Press within powerful, data-driven courseware designed to optimize student success. Developed with a foundation in learning science, Oxford Insight courseware enables instructors to deliver a personalized, adaptive, and engaging learning experience, including videos and quizzing. This adaptivity, paired with real-time actionable data about student performance, helps instructors ensure that each student is best supported along a unique learning path. The courseware reinforces students understanding of the course material and provide them with adequate practice opportunities in four key ways: Formative Activities, Personal Practice, Summative Assessments, and Closer Read.

•    Digital resources on Oxford Learning Link include:


- Flashcards
- US History Videos
- Closer Read Activities
- Closer Look Activities
- Note-Taking Guide Hand-In Assignment

Additional Instructor Resources


Save time in course prep with valuable tools available for download on Oxford Learning Link, your central hub for a wealth of engaging digital learning tools and resources to help you get the most of your Oxford University Press course material:


•    Instructor Resource Manual
•    PowerPoint slides
•    Test-Item file
•    Computerized Test Bank
•    Quizzes
•    Videos
•    Primary Sources

Oxford Learning Link Direct


Oxford Learning Link Direct brings all of the high-quality digital teaching and learning tools for Of the People right to your local learning management system. Instructors and their LMS admins simply download the Oxford Learning Link Direct Cartridge from Oxford Learning Link, and with the turn of a digital key, incorporate engaging content from OUP directly into their LMS for assigning and grading.

Praise for Of the People

Of the People includes strong scholarship, written in a style that is unhurried and balanced. The features in each chapter that delve more deeply into particular aspects of that era allow the students to dig-in a little more, and there are good visuals to support the text in terms of maps, figures, and tables. Of the People is a really solid text and covers a lot of information without being too unwieldy.”

– Jennifer Lawrence, Tarrant County College

The writing style is smooth, consistent, and flows well. The 'Struggles for Democracy' features are really well executed—they often open up some wonderful insights that are extensively developed in a way that is often not possible in textbooks.”

–Michael Holm, Boston University

The text effectively weaves diverse voices to convey the complicated and contentious sweep of U.S. history, and its strengths include a thorough treatment of national politics, an innovative use of place and memory, and a highly readable, engaging style.”

–Ian Hartman, University of Alaska, Anchorage

Of the People is affordable and easy to use for many types of learners. The writing is clear and accessible.”

–Ana Fodor, Danville Community College

Copyright © Oxford University Press 2021

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