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As the revolutionary fervor of the war for independence cooled, the new American republic, says Princeton historian Wilentz, might easily have hardened into rule by an aristocracy. Instead, the electoral franchise expanded and the democratic creed transformed every aspect of American society. At its least inspired, this ambitious study is a solid but unremarkable narrative of familiar episodes of electoral politics. But by viewing political history through the prism of democratization, Wilentz often discovers illuminating angles on his subject. His anti-elitist sympathies make for some lively interpretations, especially his defense of the Jacksonian revolt against the Bank of the United States. Wilentz unearths the roots of democratic radicalism in the campaigns for popular reform of state constitutions during the revolutionary and Jacksonian eras, and in the young nation's mess of factional and third-party enthusiasms. And he shows how the democratic ethos came to pervade civil society, most significantly in the Second Great Awakening, "a devotional upsurge... that can only be described as democratic." Wilentz's concluding section on the buildup to the Civil War, which he presents as a battle over the meaning of democracy between the South's "Master Race" localism and the egalitarian nationalism of Lincoln's Republicans, is a tour-de-force, a satisfying summation and validation of his analytical approach. 75 illus. not seen by PW. (Oct.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.
Going against prevailing historical fashion, Sean Wilentz delivers a long, exhaustive survey of political machinations, both grand and minute. Though he forays into social and cultural history, the bulk of The Rise of American Democracy is a blow-by-blow account of what happened in the corridors of young America with a "house divided." Wilentz, author of Chants Democratic (1984) and professor of history and director of the American studies program at Princeton University, tells this compelling story with precision and poise, but reviewers question whether anyone but scholars will slog through the 1000-page tome. Within academic halls, at least, this impressive volume is certainly eligible to be the definitive synthesis of the era.
Copyright © 2004 Phillips & Nelson Media, Inc. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.See all Editorial Reviews
Fascinating survey history of the development of the young American Republic.Published 11 days ago by Charles Hughes
Painful to read. If you want to read a book that reads as if it is a chronology with conjunctions and conjunctive adverbs to try to piece the "story" together then you... Read morePublished 7 months ago by Kay
I'm sure this is a great book, but I couldn't get into it. I gave it to a local library.Published 15 months ago by Mister Kennedy
Any person interested in the history of our great democracy should read this book. This was not a slam dunk, folks. Read morePublished 17 months ago by Grady Bolding
A dense but fascinatingly readable study of the rise of American politics in the early years of the US. Read morePublished 24 months ago by J. P Spencer
This book is a great account of the slow but persistent development of democracy in the United States. The struggles made it expand, as well as contract. Read morePublished on October 2, 2013 by Steffan
In this ambitious work, Wilentz attempts to chart the history of American democracy from the time of the Revolution up until the Civil War. Read morePublished on February 9, 2013 by Thomas W. Robinson