Just over a quarter of a century ago, it seemed, you couldn’t buy interest in the international history of the American Civil War. American scholars appeared especially uninterested in a subject that, as Don Doyle’s splendid new book reveals, is ripe with possibility.
Reconstructing Democracy: Grassroots Black Politics in the Deep South after the Civil War / Justin Behrend
For the past five years, American historians have been knee-deep in the American Civil War. The 150th anniversary of this historical moment has brought on a deluge of writing on the subject; an exhilarating, exhausting experience. A mountain of work on the war now strains already groaning library shelves. The result, however, has yielded some surprises.
Interpreting African-American history at historic sites is an essential but often complicated task. This timely and important volume seeks to improve and suggest successful plans for historical interpretation, and contains nearly two dozen essays spanning from the colonial period to the 21st century.
Across the 17th century, more than 350,000 English people went to America. Yet many, if not most of those who went brought with them a keen sense of their bringing ‘Englishness’ with them, rather than transforming into ‘Americans’. Emigrants travelled to the New World for a variety of reasons.
It was hardly to be expected that the sesquicentennial might come and go without the Civil War’s most preeminent historian offering his thoughts on the subject, and James McPherson has not let us down. Not that The War that Forged a Nation is in any direct sense a comment on or reaction to the sesquicentennial; it is neither.
Democracy’s Muse: How Thomas Jefferson Became an FDR Liberal, a Reagan Republican, and a Tea Party Fanatic, all the while being Dead / Andrew Burstein
In one of his last letters to his neighbor and confidant, Thomas Jefferson asked James Madison ‘to take care of me when dead’.(1) Jefferson, like most of the ‘founding fathers’ thought deeply about his legacy and place in history. He spent hours arranging his papers for posterity and composed a memoir of sorts, the ‘Anas’, in an effort to set the record straight.
With this volume, John Van Atta has achieved an excellent synthesis of the best recent scholarship relevant to the Missouri Crisis.
Liberty and Coercion: The Paradox of American Government from the Founding to the Present / Gary Gerstle
Gary Gerstle’s Liberty and Coercion is a tour de force account of American governance that manages to survey the chronological and geographical breadth of US history with a judicious depth of precise detail and example.
The American Civil War led directly to the passage of the 13th Amendment and the abolition of chattel slavery in the United States. How that happened and why it took so long has been a matter of dispute ever since.
Addressing America: George Washington’s Farewell and the Making of National Culture, Politics, and Diplomacy, 1796-1852 / Jeffrey J. Malanson
In February 1862, the Pennsylvanian Republican John W. Forney read aloud George Washington’s ‘Farewell Address’ on the Senate Floor. The occasion? It was the 130th anniversary of the first President’s birth. Each year the United States Senate continues to observe Washington’s Birthday in the same manner, alternating between speakers from each party.