Wednesday, August 28, 2013

New and Noteworthy---- Did Blundering Politicans Make The Civil War Inevitable?

The Republic in Crisis, 1848-1861, John Ashworth, Cambridge University Press, 2012. 217 pp. $75.00 (cloth), $22.99 (paper) and  A Political Nation: New Directions in Mid-Nineteenth-Century American Political History, Gary W. Gallagher, Rachel A. Shelden, eds., University of Virginia Press, 2012. 272 pp. $40.00 (cloth),
Reviewed by Matthew E. Mason (Brigham Young University)
Published on H-CivWar (August, 2013)
"Reading these two books together with an eye to Civil War scholarship is in a way an exercise in déjà vu. For these volumes offer versions, if attenuated and nuanced ones, of the old historiographical debate between those who held that the Civil War was an "irrepressible conflict" and those who argued that it was a "blundering generation"--not underlying sectional differences or grand forces--that caused the war. But besides the persistence of this debate, there is no way in which reading these two volumes feels like being caught in a time warp. For all their appreciation for traditional political history, both books, especially Gary W. Gallagher and Rachel A. Shelden's edited collection, draw productively on and model the latest developments in American political history." 
"Though very different in origins, purpose, and nature, these two books will in their own way provide current and future scholars of the politics of the Civil War era with plenty to consider and discuss."
This combined review of these two books is continued at H-Net Civ War.

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