Book Review

Hughes on Mizruchi’s The Rise of Multicultural America

Review of Susan L. Mizruchi’s The Rise of Multicultural America: Economy and Print Culture, 1865-1915 (University of North Carolina Press, 2008). ISBN: 978-0-8078-3250-9, $65 (cloth); ISBN: 978-0-8078-5912-4, $ 24.95 (paper). 368 pp., 61/8 x 91/4, 21 illus., notes, index.

Guest Review by Richard L. Hughes
Illinois State University

Historians often argue that the fifty years between 1865 and 1915 contained the most dramatic period of change in American history. By the First World War, individuals born in antebellum America found themselves living in a modern nation that often bore little resemblance to the nation they grew up in. The rise of industrialization, corporate economic growth, and urbanization, coupled with dramatic changes in race and ethnicity due to emancipation and unprecedented immigration, forged what Susan L. Mizruchi identifies as “the first multicultural modern capitalist society.” Not surprisingly, such developments also revolutionized the American publishing industry and The Rise of Multicultural America explores the relationship between economic changes and an increasingly pluralistic print culture that ranged from classic American literature to the burgeoning field of modern advertising. The result is a “literary-cultural study” that suggests that American capitalism promoted both a multicultural society and resistance to such changes in such a way as to create a broader yet continually contested modern American identity.

A professor of English with an interest in American literature, Mizruchi examines published materials associated with the aftermath of the Civil War, race and Reconstruction, Native Americans, immigrants, marketing and corporate America, labor, and utopian visions of American society. …Continue reading the review here.