Introduction to the Recent Past

The World Trade Center.

New York City, before September 11, 2001, via Library of Congress.

Time marches forever on. The present becomes the past and the past becomes history. But, as William Faulkner wrote, “The past is never dead. It’s not even past.” The last several decades of American history have culminated in the present, an era of innovation and advancement but also of stark partisan division, sluggish economic growth, widening inequalities, widespread military interventions, and pervasive anxieties about the present and future of the United States. Through boom and bust, national tragedy, foreign wars, and the maturation of a new generation, a new chapter of American history awaits.