It is to supply the student and general reader with a handy guide to contemporary history that I have undertaken this volume. I have made no attempt to present an "artistically balanced" account of the last thirty-five years, but have sought rather to furnish a background for the leading issues of current politics and to enlist the interest of the student in the history of the most wonderful period in American development. The book is necessarily somewhat "impressionistic" and in part it is based upon materials which have not been adequately sifted and evaluated. Nevertheless, I have endeavored to be accurate and fair, and at the same time to invite on the part of the student some of that free play of the mind which Matthew Arnold has shown to be so helpful in literary criticism.
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