Main Currents in American Thought, 2 Vols.
By: Vernon Parrington
Harcourt, Brace and Company, 1927
In Main Currents in American Thought, Parrington uses the example of important literary figures in American history to show the movement of thought through the years. His main focus is the difference between Hamiltonian federalism (big federal government, focus on capitalism) and Jeffersonian populism (states rights, focus on agrarianism) over time. The interesting thing is that, even though some of the issues might have shifted around there is still a basic divide in our country between those who feel that the federal government should be more involved in our lives and those who believe that that should be left to the states.
Parrington's book is not entertaining in the least. But, it would be a useful tool for research as each literary figure's section is neatly separated from the others and could be helpful to the researcher looking for information on a certain person. The thing that impressed me most was the vast amount of research that Parrington must have done to complete this work. Many of the literary figures he focused on were not necessarily the most famous. Imagine doing in depth research in the 1920s - no Internet, not even easy access between different libraries. This is truly an impressive feat.
Totally unrelated fact - Vernon Parrington was also the second head coach of the University of Oklahoma football team. Just thought that might interest somebody.