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Andrew Johnson and Reconstruction

4 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-0195057072
ISBN-10: 0195057074
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Editorial Reviews

Review


"A contribution of prime importance to the reviving study of the Reconstruction period. Among its merits are its originality in reshaping old problems, its imaginative use of analogy and comparative history, and its disciplined respect for the chronological order of events, ideas, hopes, and despairs....These merits along with others should win a warm reception for this book."--C. Vann Woodward, The New York Times Book Review


"Unusual, creative, provocative, and provoking...a work of major importance. It makes a fine, solid contribution to Reconstruction historiography, and by its approach raises hard, insistent questions about the drift of historical study in our day....It is a brave book...and does enormous credit to the author."--American Historical Review


"It is gratifying to find a book which makes no concessions to popular prejudices. McKitrick has spent years in research; he has come to unorthodox conclusions; and he has documented his text....A thoughtful and important book. May the reading public still comprise a sizable number of persons who prefer solidity and scholarship to meretricious appeal!"--Chicago Sunday Tribune


"The most important work on Reconstruction to appear in a generation."--Canadian Historical Review


About the Author

Eric L. McKitrick is at Columbia University.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 544 pages
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press (November 24, 1988)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0195057074
  • ISBN-13: 978-0195057072
  • Product Dimensions: 5.3 x 1.1 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,302,856 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

34 of 34 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on December 21, 1998
Format: Paperback
I read this book some time ago for a college course and it is one of those rare books that sticks with you. It came to mind again recently since Andrew Johnson is the only other President other than the current occupant to undergo impeachment. Toward the end of the book there is an excellent summary of the impeachment proceedings brought against Johnson in the winter/spring of 1868. It is enlightening to compare that process with what has gone on today. But the book is much more than about the impeachment. It covers a variety of topics centering around the way in which Andrew Johnson squandered many opportunities to make Presidential Reconstruction work and to cooperate at least somewhat with the Republicans in Congress. My history professor always said that McKitrick reached a little far with some of his comparisons and analogies. In this book, for instance, you will find comparisons of the defeated South and how the North related to it in terms of the U.S. and Japan after WWII. There is social psychology in the book regarding symbolic requirements that a victor in war expects in order to consider his victory complete. There is imaginary scenario making with John Andrew and Wade Hampton. Far reaching some of these techniques may have been, but they also always serve to make the authors' points and the book is quite focused despite its scope. I will also say that it is a very entertaining book. Some of its accounts will make you smile, if not laugh. For example, you won't find many better descriptions of Lorenzo Thomas's attempts to become Secretary of War as Stanton refused to leave his office.Read more ›
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By colinwoodward on September 8, 2012
Format: Paperback
Ignore the idiotic 3-star review here. This is a well-written, researched, and highly detailed classic book about Reconstruction that anyone interested in the post-Civil War political environment should read. McKitrick is a great historian (see also, the book he co-authored with Stanley Elkins about the early Republic), and he provides a compelling retelling of Johnson's presidential career, especially his disastrous "Swing around the Circle" to win support for his policies (he embarrassed himself and U. S. Grant, who accompanied him).

I read this book in graduate school, and it served as a great companion to Dan Carter's When the War Was Over. In short, presidential Reconstruction as Johnson envisioned it was doomed to failure. A pro-Union Democrat from Tennessee with humble roots, he hated the planters. But disliked and distrusted blacks, too, and did not want them to vote after the war. He was not the man to rebuild the post-slavery South, and his liberal pardons of former Confederates alienated radical Republicans, who would take Reconstruction out of his hands.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
During the nation's most politically tumultuous time, Andrew Johnson was unprepared for the highest seat in the country. Following a political hero and a martyr is a recipe for disaster, and Johnson didn't help himself. He was politically unsavvy, and Thaddeus Stevens was a powerful foe. The book delves deeply into their contentious relationship. Tangling with Stevens was a mistake. In fairness to Johnson, reconstruction was a time of experimentation, and President Johnson was cast into an extremely difficult situation. Leaders had no reconstruction example to follow, and politicians were very passionate. The book is comprehensive. In addition, the book gives interesting insight into the Freedmen's Bureau and the use of Union soldiers to monitor reconstruction. Vetoes and impeachment led to Johnson's demise, and he could only blame himself.

www.AncestralHistory.org recommends this book for families looking for notable and famous ancestors
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1 of 45 people found the following review helpful By Betty Burks on August 31, 2005
Format: Paperback
The Civil War was not politically a 'bipartisan' war in anything like the sense what would be true of the two world wars. It was required to be waged as a party war. The Republicans became Union to throw people off. Theoretically, it was a Republican victory. It is legend that the ruthless quality of Southern reconstruction was the outgrowth of hatreds carried over from wartime and prolonged. The Northerners did not know how to manage their 'great victory' over the South; thus, it was a disastrophe -- to say the least. There was a conspiracy to take over and turn the white Southerners into slaves! Slaves of conscience, slaves to sin, not to Christ.

Andrew Johnson was not exactly a Tennessean but we claim his as one of our own. The Andrew Johnson Hotel on the River here was the tallest building and certainly glamorous (still is inside); that is the place where Hank Williams, Sr., died when his chauffeur stopped there to let him 'dry out.' Johnson had an impossible duty to the country to fulfill and he performed badly. Like the other Johnson president some hundred years later, who ascended to the presidency the same way he did ([...] of the real president, Lincoln, Kennedy) also from the South, they chose the wrong programs to push through the public: civil rights. Both ended disastrously.

This 17th president, now two and a half centuries since his time, has his reputation rehabilitated a bit. He changed parties and, thus, the Democratic nation was founded. Read STORY OF THE COPPERHEADS, THE HIDDEN CIVIL WAR by Gray Wood.

Johnson was almost impeached, but that's nothing special; if you're from the South, the Northerners automatically try to bring the important person down to their size. Why is it that so many of them moved South?
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