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11 of 14 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Refreshing Approach
If you are interested in yet another history book that focuses solely on powerful white men or trivia about civil war battles, this is not the book for you. But if you are curious how the other 99% lived, this is a great book. As other reviewers have noted, Wallenstein has a strong focus on race relations and education. It may seem like an unusual approach, but these...
Published on December 15, 2009 by Johnny Letter

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24 of 33 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Four Centuries of Race in Virginia
This is really a book about the history of race and race relations in Virginia -- with, as another reviewer notes, the development of its educational system as an ancillary theme (always in the context of race).

While it is not at all apparent from title or the material on the dust cover, the author, to his credit, discloses in his foreward that race and...
Published on September 12, 2007 by P. Graham


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11 of 14 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Refreshing Approach, December 15, 2009
This review is from: Cradle of America: Four Centuries of Virginia History (Hardcover)
If you are interested in yet another history book that focuses solely on powerful white men or trivia about civil war battles, this is not the book for you. But if you are curious how the other 99% lived, this is a great book. As other reviewers have noted, Wallenstein has a strong focus on race relations and education. It may seem like an unusual approach, but these aspects of society are what matter in the daily lives of real people. They also serve as measuring sticks to evaluate how well we've lived up to the words in the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence. Of course, Wallenstein does not exclude the lives and accomplishments of Jefferson, Washington, Madison, etc., but he focuses more on how their actions actually affected people in their time. He also examines the role of the Anglican church, seperation of church and state, citizenship, and constitutional reform. The book also includes a large number of complete primary sources along side the text, allowing the reader to interpret their meaning for themselves, instead of relying solely on his interpretation.
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8 of 10 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Fine modern history of this great state, May 3, 2007
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This review is from: Cradle of America: Four Centuries of Virginia History (Hardcover)
Virginius Dabney's classic history of Virginia is a hard act to follow. This book attempts to review and update some of Dabney's work with recent scholarship, and it works well. While not a replacement for Dabney, this book includes many new insights and a lovely narrative style that make for an engaging read. The history of Virginia is as complex and important as the history of England, so a completely comprehensive narrative work is a huge task few authors undertake. This book is no exception. Its emphasis is selective, which reflects the scholarly expertise and interests of the author. That makes for some lovely work in the areas of higher education and race relations. Many of the pages of the book are framed by the texts of important primary documents in Virginia history, which is a nice editorial technique. And the University of Kansas Press has put the book together well, granted, a few extra maps would have been nice.

Dabney is still the king, but this book is certainly a welcome addition to the literature.
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24 of 33 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Four Centuries of Race in Virginia, September 12, 2007
This review is from: Cradle of America: Four Centuries of Virginia History (Hardcover)
This is really a book about the history of race and race relations in Virginia -- with, as another reviewer notes, the development of its educational system as an ancillary theme (always in the context of race).

While it is not at all apparent from title or the material on the dust cover, the author, to his credit, discloses in his foreward that race and education will be his primary themes (by which time, unfortunately, one may have already purchased it under the impression that it was a book about "four centuries of Virginia history").

The author also deserves credit for a pretty well-written book (although he has a penchant for pompous sentence structures such as "True was it that..."). He is also, all things considered, even-handed. He merely tends to downplay the signficance of Virginia's non-African-American "Great Men", and, I (want to?) notice, refrains from the attacks that have become all too common among his brethren.

On the other hand, while his emphasis (obession, really) with everyday African-Americans and race relations in Virgnia's history yields some interesting perspectives, it does not lead to, in any way, shape, or form, a general history of Virginia. True is it that many of his extended treatments of race and education may be mind-numbing to a general reader.

The author's race-o-centric perspective and his refusal to treat the "Great Men" of Virginia (whether one cares for them or not) inevitably produces 400 pages worth of empty history. As truly rotten as was the treatment of African-Americans in Virginia's history -- and as equally admirable were the struggles of Virginia's African-Americans to overcome this -- the fact is that it does not explain Virgnia's history and development.

As a result, generalist readers will finish this book not learning very much about the development of Virginia, its historical personages, its economic development, its cities and towns, its transportation and railroads, its industries, its historical landmarks, its battles, and so forth.

What a shame that the 400th anniversary of Virginia should be marked with treatments as inadequate as this one, and the far worse "Old Dominion, New Commonwealth".

If anyone is aware of any worthwhile up-to-date histories of Virginia, please chime in.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Great Perspectives, January 6, 2013
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This review is from: Cradle of America: Four Centuries of Virginia History (Hardcover)
Something unique and different than other Virginia history books. I enjoyed how the book showed how issues, sciences, and politics of the times affected history in ways that must have seemed obvious for people in past, but have been lost as society and technology has changed.
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3.0 out of 5 stars College Text, December 27, 2012
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This review is from: Cradle of America: Four Centuries of Virginia History (Hardcover)
This was a required text for my History class. If you are interested in Virginia history this is the book for you. This book is filled with excellent historical content. I am not a big history buff but I was able to plough thru it. I found the early Virginia, colonial portion of the book the most interesting.
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4 of 7 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Failuring at completion, January 28, 2011
By 
Richard Montgomery "Doc" (Southern California, CA) - See all my reviews
Simply put: This is not a complete work of Virginia history. Focusing mainly on education and race this book falls very short of being complete. Virginia has a vast history and to ignore all of the "interwoven" and relative relationships (of even those areas discussed) is a dis-service to the reader. Pass on ths one it is very selective in it's discussion. The title is misleading.
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13 of 23 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars The book has the wrong title- should be History of Higher Ed in Va, April 12, 2007
This review is from: Cradle of America: Four Centuries of Virginia History (Hardcover)
I was required to read this book for History of Virginia. I found the book to be very dry, topics were random, and the focus on education to be mind-numbing. Wallenstein focuses most of his time on education and ignores nearly everything else that happens in Virginia. It might be an acceptable book if you are interested in education in Virginia; it is useless as a survey text.
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6 of 18 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars NOT A HISTORY OF VIRGINIA, October 23, 2009
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This review is from: Cradle of America: Four Centuries of Virginia History (Hardcover)
This is more a typical liberal academics attack on race relations in th old south. While I do not defend slavery or in any way the mistreatment of blacks, I was looking for a history of Virginia, not the civil rights movement. Very good history or race relations but most other history, such as the civil war, are basicalyy just skimmed over. I can not recommend this as a good history of Virginia.
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1 of 8 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars 400 years in 400 pages, May 13, 2007
By 
Robinson (Blacksburg, VA United States) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Cradle of America: Four Centuries of Virginia History (Hardcover)
Interesting lesser known facts about Virginia's history make up this brief overview of the state.
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5 of 39 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars In Search of True Southern History, May 15, 2007
This review is from: Cradle of America: Four Centuries of Virginia History (Hardcover)
William C. Davis states in his review of the "Cradle of America" that, "Virginia is the only state to have been the capital of a 'foreign' nation, when Richmond was for almost four years the seat of the Confederacy."

Obviously Davis' knowledge of True Southern History is lacking. The seat of the Confederacy was in Montgomery, Alabama long before the seat was transferred to Richmond, Virginia, making Virginia the second and not the only state to have been the capital of a foreign nation.

Now I suspect the author of this book and Davis are Yankees, attempting to rewrite and falsify true southern history.
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Cradle of America: Four Centuries of Virginia History
Cradle of America: Four Centuries of Virginia History by Peter Wallenstein (Hardcover - March 21, 2007)
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