Paul Mellon Professor of American History at the University of Cambridge

Author of Liberty and Coercion: The Paradox of American Government, and historian of the twentieth-century United States speaking and writing on issues of American politics, immigration, and inequality

Liberty and Coercion


Winner of the 2016 Ellis W. Hawley Prize of the Organization of American Historians, for the best book-length study of the political economy, politics, or institutions of the United States, in its domestic or international affairs, from the Civil War to the present.

An "outstanding new book....rarely have I found myself more engaged and challenged by a work of history."

–Francois Furstenberg in Journal of American History (September 2017)

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"A masterful overview of the dynamics that have shaped American politics."

–James Kloppenberg, Commonweal

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“Liberty and Coercion is a towering achievement, bristling with stimulating arguments and historical erudition.”

–Desmond King in the Financial Times, 12/11/2015

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"Terrific, engaging and deeply analytical. . . . An ambitious reinterpretation of American political history from the founding to the present."

–Beverly Gage in the New York Times Book Review, 01/24/2016

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"[A] brilliant work of American political history."

–National Book Review

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"[A] triumph."

–Charles Petersen in Bookforum, February/March 2016 (full-text PDF)

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"Liberty and Coercion is a pitch-perfect analysis of the contradictions built into America’s federalist system. It’s serious and disciplined yet piquant, provocative, and highly readable."

–Mark Joseph Stern, Slate, 03/08/2016

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"Gary Gerstle's complex book shines a light down countless twisted alleyways and switchbacks of America's past....[an] enlightening, alarming analysis."

–Elizabeth Cobbs in Times Higher Education, 01/14/2016

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"A tour de force account of American governance."

–Thomas Rodgers, Reviews in History, 05/2016

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Editors' Choice, New York Times Book Review, 2016

"Historians, politicians, and the public all seem to agree that Americans, especially when compared with their counterparts abroad, are libertarians at heart. Cambridge historian Gary Gerstle offers a provocative rejoinder to this assumption in his new history of the American state....[A] new way of thinking about the past and future of American politics."

–Best Books of 2015, Yale Center for History Enquiry and the Social Sciences, 01/25/2016

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"[A] pathbreaking interpretive approach."

–James M. Banner Jr., The Weekly Standard, 05/02/2016

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American Crucible, Updated Edition

An Updated Edition of American Crucible: Race and Nation in the Twentieth Century, with a new chapter, “The Age of Obama, 2000-2016,” was published by Princeton University Press in 2017.

Copyright Gary Gerstle © 2016. All Rights Reserved.

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