Betty Wood, 2 May 1985
Given the enormous value which the historical profession currently attaches to the highly specialised monograph, it becomes all too easy to devalue, if not to denigrate, more general surveys of the past. Yet in Britain, and for slightly different reasons in the United States also, such texts can and do play an important, and entirely valid, role in the teaching of American history. Since the Second World War the history of the United States has established itself as a reputable and increasingly popular subject in British colleges and universities, and in the last few years this interest has filtered down to the schools. Those undergraduates and sixth-formers encountering American history as a serious academic discipline for the first time require an introductory text or texts which not only delineate the overall scope and shape of the subject but also make some attempt to dispel popular myths and misconceptions. These requirements are just as important in the United States, where many high-school and college survey courses in American history rely heavily upon one or two basic works.