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Chicago in the Age of Capital: Class, Politics, and Democracy during the Civil War and Reconstruction (Working Class in American History) Hardcover – April 2, 2012

4.3 out of 5 stars 3 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews


 "A masterful case for the power of intensive local studies."--Journal of Illinois History

"Chicago in the Age of Capital
will be useful to other historians for its extensive use of newspaper records and its solid grounding in the quantitative analysis of population and manufacturing trends. Its blend of social, political, and intellectual history contextualizes and deepens our understanding of the relationship between capital, labor and politics." The Historian

"Excellent work."--Choice

"An indispensable study for anyone interested in the labor history of Chicago in the nineteenth century. . . . this book also provides a useful context to some of the most dramatic events in that history."--American Historical Review

"This first-rate study of an important city offers a careful, nuanced take on the relationship between modern capitalism and democracy."--The Journal of American History

"A tour-de-force example of local narrative used to illuminate historical theory."
--Journal of the Gilded Age and Progressive Era


Book Description

Building a city on a shifting, clashing political economy

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Product Details

  • Series: Working Class in American History
  • Hardcover: 328 pages
  • Publisher: University of Illinois Press; 1st Edition edition (April 2, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0252036832
  • ISBN-13: 978-0252036835
  • Product Dimensions: 6.1 x 1.3 x 9.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,733,617 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
I"m impressed, parts are like reading Dreiser, the sense of social forces. There's a narrative push, events unfolding, and the writing is strong. I didn't see two styles' I did see clear, uncluttered, honest prose. I liked when the authors explained the shift in terminology and scholarship. The book doesn't feel written over the heads of general readers into the minds of specialists. I hope some general readers get their hands on it. I'm one of those, and a Chicagoan.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Excellent research on Chicago.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Let me get the hard part out of the way first: I hate the five-star system for evaluating books (or anything for that matter). It is incredibly limiting. This book deserves more than 3 stars-- more like 3.5 stars -- but it definitely doesn't deserve 4 stars. So 3 stars it is.
"Chicago in the Age of Capital" is an important work on the history of that city during the middle of the nineteenth century. Using Chicago as an example, it does a wonderful job of describing and explaining the economic and social changes that occurred in this country in the years immediately before and after the Civil War. In those years the country continued its transformation from a nation of artisans and small producers to one of capitalists and wage laborers. I can honestly say I learned a great deal about Chicago and the era. This work filled in some gaps in my knowledge and made me see some things a little bit differently. From that standpoint, the book deserves at least four stars.
But "Chicago in the Age of Capital" has too many other flaws to get a 4-star rating:
I am a recovering academic and I understand the processes which the authors went through in order to get published. But for a book that was published as part of the the Working Class in American History series, I expected more to see more of the working class itself. At least half of the text, possibly two-thirds, is devoted to political machinations, vote totals and academic theory which are supposed to provide context; the workers hardly make an appearance at all except in the pages devoted to the Great Strike of 1877, and even then the reader seldom gets to hear the voices of the workers themselves. I know part of this is a function of available sources; how many of those workers were literate enough to leave records?
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