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Unfinished Revolution: The Early American Republic in a British World (Jeffersonian America) Hardcover – November 4, 2010

4.7 out of 5 stars 6 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews


"Unfinished Revolution is an impressive reinterpretation of United States history between 1815 and 1850, built around the theme of American Anglophobia. In a time when the British Empire was the world's superpower, most Americans resented British condescension and feared British aims, even while many of them also hoped to replicate British industrialization, humanitarian reform, and literary accomplishments. Versatile and learned, Sam Haynes is helping U.S. history overcome its parochialism and become more global."

(Daniel Walker Howe, Pulitzer Prize–winning author of What Hath God Wrought: The Transformation of America, 1815–1848 )

"This is one of those rare works that encourages readers to see the past in a wholly new way, to see totally unsuspected connections between developments in art and politics, to appreciate in a new light the role of cultural values and emotions as shaping forces in history.... This era of American history will never look the same again."

(Steven Mintz, Columbia University, author of Moralists and Modernizers: America’s Pre–Civil War Reformers)

Sam W. Haynes' Unfinished Revolution takes the reader through familiar territory from an entirely different perspective. Haynes shows, very convincingly, that Great Britain remained a significant part of American history well after Andrew Jackson's great victory at New Orleans.

(Lucas A. Powe, Jr., University of Texas Law School History Book Club)

About the Author

Sam W. Haynes is Professor in the Department of History and the Director of the Center for Greater Southwestern Studies at the University of Texas Arlington.

(Lawrence Buell, Harvard University)
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Product Details

  • Series: Jeffersonian America
  • Hardcover: 392 pages
  • Publisher: University of Virginia Press; First Edition edition (November 4, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0813930685
  • ISBN-13: 978-0813930688
  • Product Dimensions: 6.3 x 1.2 x 9.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.6 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,776,166 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Top Customer Reviews

By S. Lawrenz VINE VOICE on September 15, 2013
Format: Paperback
The relationship between England and the United States is one that has always fascinated me. Before reading "Unfinished Revolution," I previously read Kathleen Burk's "Old World, New World: Great Britain and America from the Beginning," which explores the United States' turbulent relationship with England from the 17th through 19th centuries. Her book was enlightening and helped put 19th century United States into context for me. So it was with this background that I dove into this book, which explores some of the same themes.

Unfinished Revolution takes the exploration of those themes to a whole new depth, going a long way towards explaining a lot of political decisions various state and federal officials made in the early 19th century.

Haynes quite convincingly puts forward the thesis that the United States was essentially a developing country that, until the Mexican war, had yet to find a cultural, political or economic self identity. Americans don't normally picture their country as a backwards hole in the mud, but essentially that's what the United States was in the early part of the 19th century.

Breaking from Britain created a drive to be different, independent and not linked to British past. But the simple fact that much of United States culture and heritage was that of Britain generated a sort of inferiority complex that afflicted the country. The desperate need to self identify was a paradox that Americans could not solve, despite attempts to do so.

Added to that, the US was a developing nation, lacking the infrastructure, culture and history of a more established European country.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Most Americans, if they think about it at all, probably have a picture of us beating the British in the American Revolution, then promptly shaking hands with them, making up and living together happily ever after. But as any student of early American history soon comes to realize, this was not the case at all.

Besides the fact that we fought a second war with them in 1812, we had an ongoing cold war with them that ran right up through the Civil War. Only we played the part of the Soviets and the British played our part. That is, they tried to contain us on every front. Particularly on the Western frontier, it was no secret that they wanted to keep us from expanding. In fact, although it is not covered in this book, many of our quarrels with the Western Indian tribes were rooted in British intrigues. Or at least so it appeared to our Western frontiersmen.

This is a valuable book in that it fleshes out the details of that little known cold war, and presents much additional information about a conflict, not just political but cultural as well, which lasted nearly half a century. Of course, just as in our other cold war with the Soviets, this conflict tends to loom larger on paper than it probably was in reality. I mean, in your day to day existence, how often did you actually think about the Soviets? And so I suspect it was with the British. Sure, the conflict was always there, but probably not as overwhelmingly as this book will make it appear.

Another point only hinted at in this text, is that just as with the Soviets, the actual threat was probably never as great as the threat we perceived. For the fact is, the British never had the resources or the political will (i.e. the support of the public back home) to really oppose us as fiercely as they liked to put on.

A good companion piece, if your interested in the British side, would be The Decline and Fall of the British Empire by Piers Brendon.
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Format: Hardcover
Whereas most historians characterize the United States after 1812 as an emerging world power, the author takes the view that Americans behaved much like peoples in other developing countries. Americans believed that Great Britain was actively engaged in controlling their internal affairs and limiting their growth. The author examines the many ways that Americans feared the British - political, cultural, social, and economic. Other writers portray Manifest Destiny as an expression of American power, but when America is viewed through the lens of a developing country, westward expansion is merely a defense mechanism; the United States pushed westward in the 1840s to prevent Great Britain from acquiring a greater footprint on the continent. Haynes makes the case, I think convincingly, that Anglophobia was a root cause of some of the biggest territorial acquisitions of the period, including even Texas and the lands taken from Mexico in the Mexican War. In short, this is a very different picture of the United States than the one seen in most history textbooks, in which the story of western expansion is told strictly as a struggle between whites, Native Americans and Mexicans. Very well-written, this book is a must-read for history buffs and scholars.
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