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Party Games: Getting, Keeping, and Using Power in Gilded Age Politics Paperback – April 19, 2004

ISBN-13: 978-0807855379 ISBN-10: 0807855375 Edition: 1st
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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"

Review

A vivid and nuanced study that is all the more effective for the discrete and tempered presentation of its arguments. . . . Those arguments are also written with wit and an engaging turn of phrase.--Civil War Book Review|Summers has written another amusing, informative, and provocative book.--Journal of Illinois History|Summers has created an exemplary work that will shed additional light on the politics of the Gilded Age in American history.--North Carolina Historical 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|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|In page-turning prose, Summers shows the ways in which the people who made politics their business developed methods to keep themselves in power, deflect dissident third-party movements, and accommodate demands enough to disarm those who asked for them. This is an exciting and significant book, certain to take its place as a key work to understanding Gilded Age politics.--R. Hal Williams, Southern Methodist University|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|Combining rigorous research, superb narrative capacities, and robust enthusiasm for his subject, seasoned historian and writer Mark Wahlgren Summers relates the complex and comprehensive details accounting for the survival and thriving of the two-party system in American politics. . . . Party Games: Getting, Keeping, and Using Power in the Gilded Age merits a 'yes' vote.--Rhetoric & Public Affairs
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 368 pages
  • Publisher: The University of North Carolina Press; 1 edition (April 19, 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0807855375
  • ISBN-13: 978-0807855379
  • Product Dimensions: 6.1 x 0.9 x 9.2 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: #1,426,161 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

3.7 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Kate Allison on 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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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By S. J. Makielski on 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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1 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Connie on December 6, 2013
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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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