Prize-winning historian William Chafe here offers a vibrant chronicle of America's roller-coaster journey through the past forty years. Since World War II, the U.S. has witnessed both stunning progress and profound social divisions. The economy boomed, suburbia blossomed, college became the norm for half the younger population, and social liberation movements swept away barriers of racial and sexual discrimination. Yet in the midst of affluence, poverty remained a blight affecting half the nation; war divided the country; and a new generation, with little faith in reform, emerged. Proceeding from the chill of the Cold War to the heated social protests of the 1960s, Chafe shows how the conflict of forces in American life led to a turning point in 1968 and the ascendancy of a conservative coalition. Although set back by Watergate, this coalition re-emerged triumphant with the election of Ronald Reagan, even though enormous problems of inequality persisted in its midst. In this gripping, brilliantly written narrative, Chafe brings our recent history to life. Highlighting the paradoxes of postwar reform and reaction, he cogently and passionately demonstrates how things might have been different.