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It's not exclusive to those nostalgic for the Confederacy: secession has adherents from sea to shining sea. Kauffman samples proponents historical and contemporary of separation from the Union, discovering as bewildering a cast of constitutional autodidacts, rural rebels, and pastoral potheads as will be found in the current-affairs genre. The homogeneity within such heterogeneity is a view that the tax-collecting, regulation-issuing, and expeditionary-force-dispatching power centers of Washington or Sacramento are inimical to Jeffersonian self-governance. Do-it-yourself democrats march through Kauffman's pages, advocates for a riven New York, a fissiparous Kansas, three Californias, or a U.S. truncated by a (Second) Republic of Vermont. The don't-tread-on-me spirit assuredly attracts its share of mad tinfoil hatters and ornery independents, but there are also plenty of solid-citizen types here. Kauffman's exploration in political heresy is an amiable, vocabulary-bending jeremiad that exalts the local over the global, extols the two-lane road over the interstate highway, and simply defies a Left-Right dichotomy. An entertaining rant for the political set.
Throughout American history, the right of states to secede has been considered alternately sacrosanct and treacherous, and despite the Civil War, the idea has never quite left the American mindset. Modern secessionist movements appear periodically (an independent Texas or Vermont; a separate South; calls from Hawaii, Puerto Rico, and Alaska to split from the union; and movements to divide large states like California and New York). Kauffman, whose politics are "localist, decentralist, libertarian," offers an unabashedly pro-secessionist slant to his reports on the many movements, but readers can discern, through all his editorializing, a thoughtfully researched exploration of legitimate grievances and possible redresses against large government entities. Kauffman is a staunch advocate of local government and minimal federal involvement and that stance colors all he writes, but he's also intelligent and extremely funny; even people who disagree with his politics will embrace his voice, and history and political science enthusiasts will find this thought-provoking and intensely enjoyable. Kauffman may not cover all the nitty-gritty of secession (diplomacy, energy policy, and interstate highways to name a few), but readers get a strong sense that this movement isn't nearly as antiquated as our textbooks would have us believe.
"History doesn't stand still, no matter how many times you sing 'The Star-Spangled Banner.' Bill Kauffman brings an antic verve to the sobering question of America's ability to hang together as one nation. He correctly perceives that the end of one story is the beginning of a whole new one."--James Howard Kunstler, author of The Long Emergency and World Made By Hand
This was not Kauffman's best work, but enjoyable nonetheless. I'm a fan of Bill Kauffman and fellow traveler as far as his sort of paleo-conservative/left-conservative/libertarian... Read morePublished 10 months ago by E. Field
The term "American Empire" is commonly used by critics of U.S. global involvement and efforts to meddle in the affairs of other countries (a viewpoint I tend to share). Read morePublished 18 months ago by William Henley
This book is about a wide variety of groups, with a wide variety of ideologies. Most are advocates of seceding from the U.S. Read morePublished on October 27, 2012 by Lost Gecko
Time was, Americans believed that if they didn't like how their country was being run, they could just overthrow it and start a new one, or at the very least decide they were no... Read morePublished on August 14, 2012 by Eric San Juan
The "American Empire" referred to in this title is not what contemporary polemicists, from Noam Chomsky to Ron Paul, mean when they refer to the "American Empire. Read morePublished on January 17, 2012 by Peter B. Nelson
Given the current division our nation and everyone in it is living with, it's an interesting read.
We're living in one of several states that seems to continually push the... Read more
I selected this book on a whim- I am NOT disappointed, but it proved the point of pro-South books I have been reading from the 19th & early 20th centuries!! Read morePublished on September 21, 2011 by CMW-Tzvi
The topic of succession among elements of the United States is admittedly one with a long history of colorful characters. Read morePublished on September 13, 2011 by Greg A. Tirevold
I thought that Bill Kauffman's Forgotten Founder, Drunken Prophet: The Life of Luther Martin (Lives of the Founders) was one of the best histories I've read in a long time. Read morePublished on July 23, 2011 by Michael Lima