From Publishers Weekly
In this insightful treatment of the Civil War (addressing the causes, the war itself and Reconstruction), Hummel's text argues against the thesis that armed confrontation was inevitable. "As an excuse for civil war," he says, "maintaining the States territorial integrity is bankrupt and reprehensible. Slavery's elimination is the only morally worthy justification." But slavery, he suggests, was on its way out in any case. Not only was it a political liability, but the institution's many-faceted costs (social cost, enforcement, uprisings, mistreatment) outweighed any profits. If, after decades of unsuccessful compromise, the North had recognized the South's revolutionary right to self-determination and had let the Gulf states secede, slavery would have succumbed in the border states. Hummel goes on to argue, as have many others before, that after a devastating war and the disappointment of Reconstruction, a federal government that once interfered only a little in the affairs of individual states "had been transformed into an overbearing bureaucracy that intruded into daily life with taxes, drafts, surveillance, subsidies and regulations." Hummel, a professor of history and economics at Golden Gate University in San Francisco, quotes David H. Donald, saying, "Before the Civil War, many politicians and writers referred to the United States in the plural"--i.e., the United States are, a grammatical agreement no longer used after 1865. With its insightful analysis (not to mention the extensive bibliographical essays that elaborate each chapter), Emancipating Slaves, Enslaving Free Men will supply both the academic and Civil War buff with an added perspective on the causes and consequences of the Civil War.
Copyright 1996 Cahners Business Information, Inc.
From Library Journal
Hummel (history and economics, Golden Gate Univ.) presents some uncomfortable truths for both sides of the Civil War. For the South, Hummel builds a case that the war was indeed about slavery. For the North, he shows that a war to preserve the union was morally bankrupt and that freeing the slaves was the only justifiable reason for fighting. Yet Hummel demonstrates that even a war for such a noble cause was probably unnecessary, since slavery was politically doomed in an independent South. Hummel also illustrates some of the cost of the war, such as Lincoln's suppression of political opposition, the closing of dissenting newspapers, and the creation of big government under Republicans Lincoln, Johnson, and Grant. Here, Hummel steps on some toes. A worthwhile purchase for public and academic libraries.?Robert A. Curtis, Taylor Memorial P.L., Cuyahoga Falls, Ohio
Copyright 1996 Reed Business Information, Inc.
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