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Ordeal of the Union Vol.1: Fruits of Manifest Destiny 1847-1852 : A House Dividing 1852-1857 Paperback – August, 1992
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From Publishers Weekly
Absolutely essential for students of the Civil War, the late historian Nevins's National Book Award-winning masterwork, published over the years 1947-1971, is here presented complete and unabridged.
Copyright 1992 Reed Business Information, Inc.
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Top Customer Reviews
This should in no way detract from the value of Nevins' work. I would highly recommend the entire 8 volumes to anyone who has a deep interest in one of the periods of American History that best defines our nation and its principals. However, I would strongly urge the reader to start with a quality hardback copy before being forced to struggle through this poor production. Alas, the first volume "Fruits of Manifest Destiny" has been extremely difficult to find in hardcover, which is perhaps why someone saw fit to convert it to Kindle.
I would urge those who produced it to make the necessary corrections, before they sour the public to a great work of history.
Partisan issues, highlighted by different views on the institution of slavery, became ever more bitter and divisive. The economic power of the Northern states began to lean heavily on the South and gradually seemed to undermine its most vigorous efforts to defend slavery, led brilliantly but unsuccessfully by John C. Calhoun. It was not only slavery that ever more fractiously divided the Union. The North became increasingly entrenched in its pursuit of high tariffs, the main source of funding for the national government in the pre-income tax era. Cotton, the cash crop of the South, endured savage price weakness in the 1850's, further pinching the economy of the delta states. The great universities of the country were almost entirely in the North; rail transportation was far more developed in the North; the gap in population between the North and the South became increasingly wide.
This was a tough hand that had been dealt to the South and the final play of the hand led, of course, to the Civil War at the start of President Lincoln's first term. The violent political and economic dissension and a growing sense of the moral injustice of slavery are the themes of Alan Nevins' The Ascent of the Union. Numerous books have been written about the various aspects of the impending struggle but Nevins sketches the broad strokes of the growing contest with fairness to both sides.
This critical era of American history, from 1849 to 1857, was marked, very regrettably, by a procession of inept Presidents, none of whom was able to lead the nation to a reasonable compromise. Nevins, at one point, becomes so upset with the endless arguments on either side that he proposes that slavery could have peacefully evolved into system in which slaveowners would have willingly surrendered rights to their principal asset. How many years of social and economic injustice would this have required to be fully realized? Nevins ducks on this one.
Politics became incredibly convoluted as the nation ground through the emergence of widely different points of view. The Whig party - the party of Clay, Webster, Seward - splits apart as the Southern wing cannot live under the same roof as the increasingly abolitionist Northern Whigs. The Democratic party was also pulled apart as the extremist views of Calhoun and Jefferson Davis were unacceptable to the northern wing of the party.
Nevins sorts through all of this political dissension with great effort but, in the end, fails to capture the great sense of the struggle. These men are some of the most intellectually gifted in the country's history and the meaning of their differences form the increasingly vocal backdrop for the Civil War. Nevins history does not seem up to the task in discussing these struggles in a clear and convincing manner.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Clearly Nevins has a boy crush on every speaker and long winded "historian" who came before him.Read more