[UCP Books]: Building the American Republic

The University of Chicago Press has announced that it will be making its forthcoming American History textbook Building the American Republic available free as an e-book. The two-volume set will be downloadable without DRM, making it one of the first American-history textbooks backed by a university press to be offered completely free in digital form.

“For over 125 years, the University of Chicago Press has embraced its mission to disseminate scholarship of the highest standard,” said Garrett Kiely, the Press’s director. “Equally, we seek new ways of extending the availability and accessibility of knowledge. These goals are achieved by making these outstanding, peer-reviewed volumes freely available in digital form.”

Building the American Republic is written as a narrative history that begins with the earliest Americans and ends with the 2016 election. Harry L. Watson, Atlanta Distinguished Professor of Southern Culture at the University of North Carolina, wrote the first volume, which ends at 1877. Jane Dailey, associate professor of American history at the University of Chicago, picks up the narrative in volume 2. Together, they combine centuries of perspectives and voices into a fluid story of the United States. They took care to integrate varied scholarly perspectives into their chapters to engage a diverse readership.

“A rich drama of social and cultural contention underpins Americans’ claims for their democratic republican tradition,” said Watson. “Now more than ever, we need an American history that combines a fundamental commitment to inclusion with a clear understanding of public choices and public power.”

Dailey added, “At a time when our public discourse is threatened by ‘fake news’ and ‘alternative facts,’ the current generation of students—our future leaders—needs Building the American Republic’s even-handed, carefully crafted, and readily accessible history of our nation’s most fundamental democratic traditions.”

The University of Chicago Press acquired the project in 2013 and recognized an opportunity to step outside the typical textbook model. The volumes eschew charts, links, and supplementary materials for a straightforward and highly readable history.

“Our hope is that the narrative strength, formal simplicity, and easy access to these books will make them popular with students and teachers alike,” said acquiring editor Timothy Mennel.

Building the American Republic will be available for download January 4, 2018, at buildingtheamericanrepublic.com. It will also be available at all major e-retailers. A paperback version will be available January 18, 2018 and will be priced at $30 for each volume.


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