1. The shift from agriculture to industrialization during this period fundamentally changed American society. Are sweeping social changes always the result of huge economic shifts? If so, why do you think so? If not, then why was industrialization and the Gilded Age different from later changes in the American economy (for example, the Information Age)?
2. The “Muckrakers” helped expose corrupt and unhealthy practices in major corporations and industry. These led to government reforms and a host of new laws to regulate industrial and corporate practices. Is the best way to ensure clean and healthy practices by business to create and enforce laws or should some other mechanism, like the consumer market, be used to keep companies in line? Why?
3. Some of the primary reasons for American entry into the First World War were centered on the issue of economic, military, or political security. Do you think the U.S. still has an interest in achieving global security through military intervention? Why?What alternatives are there that can/should be explored?
4. Prior to the Second World War, the world was a dangerous place in large part due to clashes of cultures and races. What were some of these racial and cultural beliefs? Do we see parallels with today… and is the world a more or less dangerous place than it was during the 1930s and 1940s.
5. World War Two and the Cold War was pitched to Americans, and the world, as a fight between freedom and tyranny. In American, however, major segments of the population remained oppressed. Has America ever really been open to differences in political ideology (Capitalism vs. Socialism or Communism), differences in culture, and differences in racial heritage? Can we say that this divergence between American ideology and American practice was, in itself, another cause that kept the Cold War going?
6. Why do you think that the United States, by the 1970s having an impressive edge in military power and technological achievements, would pursue the policy of Détente to ease Cold War tensions?Did such a move signal American weakness or exhaustion with a long political war?How do you think the thaw in the Cold War affected the United States during the 1970s?
7. How did the policies of Presidents Ronald Reagan and George Bush (the elder), form a realignment of American values? Given what we know and have experienced in later presidencies and challenges of modern society, do you think these changes stuck or were these merely short-lived expressions of a backlash against the 1960s and 1970s. Why?