The state of Iowa is largely unappreciated and often misunderstood. It has a small population and sits in the middle of a huge country. It’s thought of as an uninspiring place full of farms and fields of corn. But Iowa represents America as surely as New York and California, and Iowa’s history is more dynamic, complicated, and influential than commonly imagined.
Jeff Bremer’s A New History of Iowa offers the most comprehensive history of the Hawkeye State ever written, surveying Iowa from the last ice age through the COVID-19 pandemic. It tells a new and vibrant story, examining the state’s small-town culture, politics, social and economic development, and its many diverse inhabitants. Bremer features well-known individuals, such as Sauk leader Black Hawk, artist Grant Wood, botanist George Washington Carver, suffragist Carrie Chapman Catt, and President Herbert Hoover. But Bremer broadens the state’s story by including new voices—among them, runaway enslaved men who joined Iowa’s 60th Colored Regiment in the Civil War, young female pearl button factory workers, Latino railroad workers who migrated to the state in the early twentieth century, and recent refugees from Southeast Asia and the Balkans.
This new story of Iowa provides a brisk, readable narrative written for a broad audience, from high school and college students to teachers and scholars to general readers. It tells the story of ordinary and extraordinary people of all backgrounds and greatly improves our knowledge of a state whose history has been neglected. A New History of Iowa is for everyone who wants to learn about Iowa’s surprising, complex, and remarkable past.
Part I—Iowa to the Civil War
1. Native Iowa: Iowa to 1833
2. Iowa Territory, 1833–1846
3. Frontier Iowa, 1833–1870
4. Slavery, Politics, and Transportation before the Civil War
5. Iowa and the Civil War, 1861–1870
Part II—Iowa from the Civil War to 1929
6. Immigrants, Railroads, and Farm Protest
7. Religion, Education, and Rural Life
8. Cities, Industry, and Technology, 1833–1920
9. Suffrage, Prohibition, and Politics, 1870–1920
10. Iowa in World War I and the 1920s
Part III—Iowa since 1929
11. the Great Depression and Iowa
12. Iowa in World War II
13. Postwar Iowa, 1945–1975
14. Iowa and the Farm Crisis, 1975–2000
15 Iowa in the Twenty-First Century
?Jeff Bremer’s new history of Iowa captures the many facets of the state: its diversity, complexity, and changeability. It is the story of both elites and ordinary folks of many backgrounds. It takes a hard look at the myths that both the nation and that Iowans tell about place. The breadth and scope of this work make it a welcome addition to the growing literature that chronicles the state and the region.?—Pamela Riney-Kehrberg, distinguished professor of history at Iowa State University and author of When a Dream Dies: Agriculture, Iowa, and the Farm Crisis of the 1980s
?Iowa is the heart of the American heartland, the beating center of the Midwest, and it has been far too long since Iowa’s history has been given a comprehensive treatment. Bravo to Jeff Bremer, who brings decades of expertise to the task, succeeding brilliantly, and puts Iowa back on the national map. For anyone curious about the history of the forgotten center of the nation, this is a must-read.?—Jon K. Lauck, founding president of the Midwestern History Association, editor-in-chief of the Middle West Review, and adjunct professor of political science at the University of South Dakota, and author of The Conservative Heartland: A Political History of the Postwar American Midwest and The Good Country
?With his impressive scope, brisk pace, and unparalleled knowledge, Bremer has produced the new standard in Iowa history. Readers meet the farmers, politicians, activists, immigrants, and everyday people who have made Iowa what it is today and simultaneously learn how Iowa history connects to themes, people, and events that extend well beyond the state’s borders. A New History of Iowa is, quite simply, a masterclass in state history.?—Andrew Klumpp, editor, Annals of Iowa, State Historical Society of Iowa