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Party Games: Getting, Keeping, and Using Power in Gilded Age Politics [Paperback]

by Mark Wahlgren Summers
3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)

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Book Description

December 4, 2003 0807855375 978-0807855379
Summers examines the American political system of the late nineteenth century with a behind-the-scenes look at the poll taxes, rigged elections, and other electoral shenanigans designed to bring large numbers of voters to the polls but still keep power in the hands of major partisan players.

Frequently Bought Together

Party Games: Getting, Keeping, and Using Power in Gilded Age Politics + American Populism: A Social History 1877-1898 (American Century) + Dream and Thought in the Business Community, 1860-1900
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Editorial Reviews

Review

"With acerbic wit and an incomparable grasp of period detail, Summers paints a picture of U.S democracy's late nineteenth-century style."
American Historical Review

"With impressive research . . . Summers effectively links [Gilded age politics] into a coherent political universe, illuminated by interesting and often obscure vignettes. . . . An important and provocative book that commands attention and will reward reading."
Journal of Southern History

"Perceptively illuminates. . . . Creative and wide-ranging. . . . Places black men at the center of their own self-construction and should not be overlooked in any consideration of African American and masculinity studies."
American Studies

"A welcome addition to Gilded Age political historiography. . . . Challenges accepted historiography and provides a lively account of the professionals who dominated US politics at the end of the nineteenth-century."
Canadian Journal of History/Annales canadiennes d'histoire

Summers examines the American political system of the late nineteenth century with a behind-the-scenes look at the poll taxes, rigged elections, and other electoral shenanigans designed to bring large numbers of voters to the polls but still keep power in the hands of major partisan players.

Product Details

  • Paperback: 368 pages
  • Publisher: The University of North Carolina Press (December 4, 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0807855375
  • ISBN-13: 978-0807855379
  • Product Dimensions: 9.4 x 6.2 x 0.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #723,220 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

3.7 out of 5 stars
(3)
3.7 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great book, entertaining style March 2, 2009
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
While rather biased toward the institutional aspects of American politics during the Guilded Age, Summers' book does give insight into the strategies that the parties used to consolidate power near the turn of the century. His analysis is clear; and he provides relevant, and sometimes humorous, anecdotes. For instance, one man registered his goat to vote. Summers ultimately argues that the parties manipulated an already sectarian and polarized political structure for their own advantage, a manipulation that sometimes stretched beyond the limits of the law to include gerrymandering, vote-buying, patronage, and other illegalities.

The book focuses on campaign and electoral politics, yet Summers does not provide an even-handed analysis of the act of voting itself. To Summers, the American voter during the Gilded Age was a pawn to be used for electoral gains. The author largely ignores the idea that Americans may have voted based on personal ideological preferences rather than to simply appease the party machine.

Overall, though, it was a great read with an accessible style that didn't require much background knowledge about the era. I'd recommend this book to anyone interested in this sometimes unbelievable period of American history.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Still the same December 6, 2013
By Connie
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
The name of this book should be,"the more things change, the more they remain the same." It's readable and informative.
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2.0 out of 5 stars Pretty Good 19th Century Politics Review July 5, 2011
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
I was, I must admit, initially disappointed in this book. I had looked forward to a good straight-forward narrative and analysis of what politics was in the period 1865-1900. Much of it, most of it, was more than familiar from older sources; sometimes the organization of the material was confusing; and there were occasionally details where you didn't need them, and no details where you did.
Nonetheless, if this is terra incognito to you, here is a good place to start. With a little patience you will learn a lot about how the political bosses of the time operated, and why. But, it does take a lot of work to dig out the good stuff. A fine book for politics buffs; not so good if you have only a casual interest in the great game.
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