Book Review of Robert Wiebe's "The Search for Order"

2422 Words10 Pages
Michael White Book Review GAPE A Critical analysis of Wiebe’s Search for Order: 1877-1920 Wiebe, Robert H. The Search for Order:1877-1920. New York: Hill and Wang, 1967. The Search For Order: 1877-1920, by Robert H. Wiebe, tells the story of America in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. It picks up at the end of Reconstruction and as American society is beginning to undertake a change much different than the recent Civil War and it's aftermath. In fact, Wiebe argues that this change is so rapid and reaches so many facets of society that it leaves the country in a state of confusion, doubt, and unsureness about itself and the coming future. Wiebe's presentation is more than just to follow the general development of disorder, but to track the underlying current or theme that connected this whole period of change and gave it unity. Wiebe argues that after Reconstruction, the United States was a country consisting of isolated, distended 'island communities' that had to face the rapid changes of industrialization, urbanization, and immigration. Throughout these circumstances different solutions come from diverging movements, groups, and people; some chose to hold on desperately to past values of political and economic modes, some tried to formulate idealistic solutions that were denying the complexity of the challenges they tried to solve, and others looked to force and power to enforce to enforce stability. But in the end it was the rising middle-class and their values of bureaucratic control, rationality, and scientific management that prevailed over the outdated mode of production and value system. The search for order, which Wiebe presents as the main theme of this time period, is characterized as a search for order in values, economic stability, and a kind of core political ideology as a standard. The new system develops as a powerful
Open Document