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The Whiskey Rebellion: George Washington, Alexander Hamilton, and the Frontier Rebels Who Challenged America's Newfound Sovereignty (Simon & Schuster America Collection) Paperback – Bargain Price, June 1, 2010


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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Soon after Americans ousted inequitable British taxation, Secretary of Finance Alexander Hamilton, hatched a plan to put the new nation on steady financial footing by imposing the first American excise tax, on whiskey makers. The tax favored large distillers over small farmers with stills in the mountains of Pennsylvania, Maryland and Virginia, and the farmers fomented their own new revolution—a challenge to the sovereignty of the new government and the power of the wealthy eastern seaboard. In a fast-paced, blow-by-blow account of this "primal national drama," journalist Hogeland energetically chronicles the skirmishes that made the Whiskey Rebellion from 1791 to 1795 a symbol of the conflict between republican ideals and capitalist values. The rebels engaged in civil disobedience, violence against the tax collectors and threatened to secede from the new republic. Eventually Washington led federal troops to quell the rebellion, arresting leaders such as Herman Husband, a hollow-eyed evangelist who believed that the rebellion would usher in the New Jerusalem. Hogeland's judicious, spirited study offers a lucid window into a mostly forgotten episode in American history and a perceptive parable about the pursuit of political plans no matter what the cost to the nation's unity. (Apr.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

From Booklist

Most general U.S. history texts gloss over the Whiskey Rebellion of 1794 as a minor, spasmodic outburst of violence by disgruntled farmers in western Pennsylvania. Not so, says Hogeland. In this uneven but provocative and interesting chronicle, he weaves in themes of class conflict, easterner versus westerner, and local control versus the newly strengthened federal government. This is not a scholarly tome. Hogeland is not a professional historian, and he takes unwarranted liberties by imagining the mental states of characters, including George Washington and Alexander Hamilton. He views the rebellion as the culmination of a "people's movement" in which debtors struggled against creditors and poor farmers struggled against a merchant elite and their allies--land speculators. Of course, this is the economic determinism of Charles Beard in the form of a nonfiction novel. Although Hogeland's analysis is short on verifiable data, he knows how to tell an exciting story, and some of his assertions are worthy of consideration by serious historians. Brad Hooper
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.
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Product Details

  • Series: Simon & Schuster America Collection
  • Paperback: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Simon & Schuster (June 1, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0743254910
  • ASIN: B0064XBHQS
  • Product Dimensions: 8.4 x 5.5 x 1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 9.6 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (42 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,811,490 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Born in Virginia and raised in Brooklyn, New York, William Hogeland is the author of three books on founding U.S. history, "The Whiskey Rebellion" (Simon and Schuster), "Declaration" (Simon and Schuster), and "Founding Finance" (University of Texas Press), as well as a collection of essays, "Inventing American History" (Boston Review Books/MIT Press). His next book is under contract to Farrar, Straus and Giroux.

Hogeland's work in history represents an unusual blend of dramatic narrative and critical interpretation. He has also written about history, music, and politics for "The Atlantic Monthly," "AlterNet," "Salon," "The New York Times," "Boston Review," and "The Huffington Post." His essay "American Dreamers" appears in Da Capo's "Best Music Writing 2009," edited by Greil Marcus. Hogeland also contributed the chapter on insurrections to "A Blackwell Companion to American Military History."

Hogeland's blog is at http://www.williamhogeland.com. He has an online self-publishing venture at http://www.hogelandpublishing.com. He posts at http://twitter/WilliamHogeland, and his Facebook author page is http://www.facebook.com/pages/William-Hogeland/108281879206433.

Customer Reviews

The prose is excellent and very clear throughout the whole book.
Lehigh History Student
Hogeland does a good job of presenting this often-overlooked event in American history in a way that is both engaging and though-provoking.
Charles S. Houser
The problem with Hogeland's argument is his scholarship, or lack there of.
Jason LS Raia

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

56 of 63 people found the following review helpful By Theo Logos on April 25, 2006
Format: Hardcover
The Whiskey Rebellion, which came to a head in 1794 on the frontier of Western Pennsylvania, provides a great microcosm for viewing the early American republic. It encapsulates the stories of the nation's transformation into a centralized, commercial power, along with the expansion of the nation westward, which often presented challenges to that centralized power. It shows the demise of the radical populism of the Revolution and the rise of the conservative power of the creditor class. Alexander Hamilton, that machiavellian genius who was the architect of the emerging power of the commercial creditor class, plays a central role, as does George Washington, aging and nearly ready to exit the world stage. To understand the Whiskey Rebellion is to understand the formation and development of our early republic.

William Hogeland's new book is a first rate popular history of the Whiskey Rebellion with a definite point of view. With great clarity, he carefully explains both the machinations of Secretary of the Treasury Alexander Hamilton, which created the conditions that sparked the rebellion, and the economic and cultural situation in Western Pennsylvania, where the effects of Hamilton's maneuvering to create a centralized commercial power were so devastating as to cause such a violent uprising. Step by step, he shows how the clash of the interests between classes and regions led to this most serious of popular rebellions against federal authority - how it happened, and how it was crushed.

More impressive even than Mr. Hogeland's clear, explanatory prose is his ability to animate the actors in this drama. He brings to life the people who inhabit his history, an ability more often found in fiction than in historical writings.
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38 of 42 people found the following review helpful By Charles S. Houser VINE VOICE on July 25, 2006
Format: Hardcover
I am starting to lose patience with history writing that interprets historical events through the lens of the personal character of the key players involved. (Such history writing usually leaves me wondering how accurate the author's take on his/her subject's psyche is, or, whether things would have been different if the subject had had a good hair day or started off their day with a solid breakfast.) Hogeland's account of the Whiskey Rebellion seems to have struck a good balance between narratology (understanding characters' motives) and analysis of objective, provable facts (in this case economics and politics).

Hogeland is a gifted writer. His description of whiskey making (pp. 64-66) is beautiful, almost poetic; his depictions of the frontier practice of tarring and feathering one's perceived enemies (pp. 20-23; 143-44) is chilling. His discussion of the economics of the early years of US nationhood is precise and convinciing without overwhelming the reader with theoretical concepts. In the end, Hogeland leaves the reader with a number of questions that continue to be relevant today: What rights should government have in controlling mob violence? free speech? How do national economic policies get shaped and implemented? What assurance do the poor have that government officials won't enact policies that benefit only themselves and their cronies? What moral standards should the military be held to and what are the ramifications when they fail to do so? How can individual rights be protected in the shadow of popular movements? What constitutes fair taxation? Clearly many Bill-of-Rights sorts of issues were being tested in this early conflict between one group of US citizens and their government.
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13 of 14 people found the following review helpful By Michael B. Flaherty on April 10, 2009
Format: Hardcover
This narrative historical account by Hogeland is a must read for any interested in this event and period in the early years of our representative republic.

The narrative is well done. His focus on Brackenridge as a key figure playing a delicate and dangerous balancing act is historically significant and adds much to the account. Also, some of the other key figures are well described and add great color and flavor. Additionally, there are several accounts that display the mindset of frontier life at the forks of the Ohio well. It was a very independent and productive place, but dangerous and unforgiving too. Simply put, there is a strong sense of being amongst it all while reading it.

The history is well researched and his iconoclastic account of Hamilton is a breath of fresh air. I've read endlessly on this period of our history and as such have concluded that Hamilton was dangerously ambitious and worked contrary to our founding principles often. Hogeland provides examples and catalogs a brief snapshot of the larger story of Hamilton in this context. Even many federalists of the time found him dangerous and too extreme for them. Few liked him (who knew him or worked with him), and for good reason. True, he "accomplished" much, but I seriously question the short and long term consequences of these "accomplishments". I contend much of what Hamilton did was not consistent with our founding principles. And as such have ultimately led to a government system far more centralized than our founders intended. Given the largely mythical mainstream version of Hamilton, it seems those who expose a more balanced and aptly critical history of Hamilton are often subject to attacks by those who favor a stronger centralized system.
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