- Series: Civil War America
- Hardcover: 342 pages
- Publisher: The University of North Carolina Press; New edition edition (October 1, 2009)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0807833045
- ISBN-13: 978-0807833049
- Product Dimensions: 9.3 x 6.4 x 1.3 inches
- Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds
- Average Customer Review: 4 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #3,036,646 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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A Dangerous Stir: Fear, Paranoia, and the Making of Reconstruction (Civil War America) New edition Edition
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Offers provocative historical context for thinking about the reactionary rhetoric of today.--Civil War Book Review
Carefully researched and congenially written. . . . An important and convincing book, as a well as a very engaging one. . . . Should encourage historians to pay more attention to the role of fear in Reconstruction-era politics.--Journal of Southern History
Summers's premise is an intriguing one and his book maintains a feeling of uncertainty, even though the story is well known.--H-Civil War
Deeply researched and cleverly written, this new examination of the dark side of Reconstruction will inform, enlighten, and may create a 'stir' of its own.--The Journal of American History
Most historians write about what happened in the past. Summers, in his new history of Reconstruction, instead writes about what failed to occur. . . . [And] chronicles the fears that gripped the people of the era.--Virginia Quarterly Review
A fascinating departure from much of the existing literature on the postwar era.--The Alabama Review
Summers carefully teases apart the myriad strands of wartime and postwar political discourse, finding more similarities than one might think between Republican and Democratic rhetoric. . . . Richly detailed and tightly argued. . . . A powerful and fascinating contribution to the literature of Reconstruction politics.--Journal of Interdisciplinary History
Both a dramatic narrative of the events of the Reconstruction and a groundbreaking new look at what drove these events, A Dangerous Stir is also a valuable look at the role of fear in the politics of the time--and in politics in general.--McCormick Messenger
Based on extensive research and written in readable prose, this stimulating study is not a general study of 1865-1869. . . . Provides excellent brief biographies. . . . Recommended.--Choice
Summer's clear prose dances with apt flourishes. . . . fresh, insightful, and relevant.--North Carolina Historical Review
This critical interpretation of Reconstruction examines its political framework but quickly moves beyond politics into the pulsating realm of conspiracy and fear mongering. Author of numerous important books on nineteenth-century America, Summers has again provided a provocative and penetrating analysis of an extremely significant period of U.S. history. A Dangerous Stir is undeniably a must and stirring read!--Orville Vernon Burton, author of The Age of Lincoln, Burroughs Professor of Southern History and Culture, Coastal Carolina University
Summers's newest and most important book is provocative in the best sense. The history of Reconstruction has long been trapped in stale verities. This volume deploys extensive research, stylistic wit, and arresting cartoons to open up controversial possibilities. Stirring the pot like this never wins universal acceptance. But those who are unconvinced will agree with the converts that assaults on the status quo rarely mix such imaginative energy with such solid good fun.--William W. Freehling, author of The Road to Disunion
There is perhaps no scholar more capable than Mark Summers to write with authority about the political culture of Reconstruction. With insight, skill, and wit, he recovers and explores a persistent but neglected theme in the writings of the era. In the process, he sheds new and valuable light on such traditional problems in Reconstruction historiography as the curious reaction of Southerners during the summer and fall of 1865, the behavior of President Andrew Johnson, and the increasing radicalization of Republican Reconstruction policies. This is an important book that was waiting to be written.--Mitchell Snay, author of Fenians, Freedmen, and Southern Whites: Race and Nationality in the Era of Reconstruction
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Mark Summers brings all the fear, unreasonable expectations, paranoia, public prejudices and media overstatements together to produce a unique look at Reconstruction. This is not a clear dispute between Presidential and Congressional Reconstruction policies. This is not a contest between the radical and moderate/conservative Republicans in Congress. This is not politics "as usual" between Northern Democrats and Republicans over control of the country. Yes, all of this is occurring and the author includes it in the proper perspective. What sets this book apart is the author's concentration on these fears, delusions and assumptions that occurred in making and unmaking of Reconstruction policy.
America had just put down a rebellion. For the first time, a president is murdered. Emancipation freed millions of blacks but what would happen to them? The government was badly in debt, taxes high and thousands of men were invalids. Thousands more were trying to put their lives back together, adjusting to civilian life after the years of war. Much of the nation was in ruins and business had to switch from military to civilian production. Over all of this is a series of options and legal questions on reconstruction that victory had not settled. The author does an excellent job of covering the legal questions and political problems the nation faces in 1866. This very impressive foundation, allows readers to understand the reasoning behind the many parties decisions. Of equal importance is the state of newspapers, North and South, during this time. Highly partisan, reporting speculation as fact while often lacking resources to do more than copy stories from other papers, they play a major role in shaping public opinion. Often, the newspapers do little more than confirm the prejudices of their subscribers, echoing the position of the party to which they belong.
The President and the Congress cannot work together. The public fears a second civil war. The President leads an army fighting for a Congress of Northern Democrats, Copperheads and former rebels saving the nation from radicals and preserving the Constitution. A Congressional army of state militia and GAR veterans fights to preserve the victory of 1865. Did it happen, no it did not. At the time, people did not know if it would or not happen and newspapers use a lot of ink reporting this story.
This book takes us back to the fears and dangers of the years immediately following the Civil War. We see Reconstructions not as a failed process or a conflict between branches of government but as a real moving item. All sides are stumbling in the dark, unsure but determined to save America from "her enemies", whoever they might be.
This book will challenge you and make you think. The author is able to make the questions and issues understandable in a few pages. Fully footnoted, some of the statements are surprising for their venom, with a good selection of Thomas Nast cartoons to illustrate the times. This is not a quick read BUT it is an important contribution to our history of Reconstruction and is a necessary addition to your library.
I do take exception to the rather abrupt "ending" with the rather standard summation of the Grant administration. Perhaps the author is saving that for another day, for surely one could make a book of it much as this one. Grant's relentless resolve to steady the nation while promoting "reconstruction" has been well documented and argued to virtually dismiss it (Frederick Douglass..."We will not find a candidate equal to General Grant....") while drawing attention to the now debated "scandals". Futhermore, on pg.202 we get a sentence about General George Thomas, "..an aging desk soldier" who "boasted" about "kicking out" his predecessor (Stanton). I hardly deem a man of fifty-one years old who had four years before fought and won the decisive battle of Nashville and headed a military command of defeated territory
as being an an aging desk soldier, nor have I ever read of George Thomas to "boast" about anything. Doth the author inject some paranoia and fear?