During this era, the American society experienced various changes socially, economically and politically. The bulk of the book deals with how American people felt during the revolution and to what extent their lives changed.
The book focuses on society as a whole, and does not emphasize on a particular person or event alone, there was a lot of struggle and opposition between people, as Diner writes "living increasingly in an interdependent society comprised of large institutions, individual Americans made numerous choices and competed with each other as never before to control their lives"( 3).
A very different age narrates the efforts of and lives of different groups of people during the progressive era, including, businessmen and industrial workers, small businessmen and big business men, industrial workers and farmers, European immigrants and African migrants, middle class women and men, industrial workers and middle class workers, businessmen and professionals.
The reform included the growth of "labor unions joined mostly by businessmen"(47), but these unions removed the "African Americans" , women joined the workforce, immigrants accepted low paid jobs for the sake of improving there overall status, they were mostly employed in factories and mills. Inhabitants of America felt superior to the immigrants; farmers mostly had to depend on the vague capitalist system to earn a respectable income, "African American" had to fight for their rights for freedom, most of them flee the country, but it was the middle class that appeared to be the most powerful during the progressive era.
According to Diner, despite of the progress there were many setbacks that occurred during the revolutionary era. Thousands of Americans still lived in poverty; African Americans struggled for their identity and "racism" (125) existed.
The writer skillfully includes the work of many historians in his book; he praises some of the reformers of the time but criticizes many renowned progressives like "Teddy Roosevelt" (229) and "Woodrow Wilson (219)" who worked for their selfish motives instead of bringing change, Diner disparagingly asserts that "progressives, like other Americans, joined a contest for control under rules set by industrial capitalism"
The author explains in his book that the "historians"(199) believe that the political behavior of many Americans during the progressive era changed widely as fewer votes were cast and citizens no longer remained linked to their political parties as strict laws prevented them to cast votes. Furthermore, many social historians believed that common people were victims of intolerance and inequality, and there were many people who faced the harsh circumstances bravely and traveled from place to place in search of better jobs. People who left were mostly farmers and industrial workers, whereas, most of the urban came to America and urban population in South increased by 900,000(131), "Midwestern farmer's children went further west to buy more lands" and "African Americans" moved to rural areas. Diner is of the view that the progressive period though brought many gains but it at the same time ruined the lives of many.
The "Industrial Revolution" had different impact on different people; with its many accomplishments it also created problems for many people. The revolution affected women's lives most negatively and there life