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Ecstatic Nation : Confidence, Crisis, and Compromise, 1848-1877
by Brenda Wineapple


Overview -

A New York Times Notable Book of 2013

A Kirkus Best Book of 2013

A Bookpage Best Book of 2013

Dazzling in scope, Ecstatic Nation illuminates one of the most dramatic and momentous chapters in America's past, when the country dreamed big, craved new lands and new freedom, and was bitterly divided over its great moral wrong: slavery.
 
With a canvas of extraordinary characters, such as P.  Read more...


 
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More About Ecstatic Nation by Brenda Wineapple
 
 
 
Overview

A New York Times Notable Book of 2013

A Kirkus Best Book of 2013

A Bookpage Best Book of 2013

Dazzling in scope, Ecstatic Nation illuminates one of the most dramatic and momentous chapters in America's past, when the country dreamed big, craved new lands and new freedom, and was bitterly divided over its great moral wrong: slavery.
 
With a canvas of extraordinary characters, such as P. T. Barnum, Walt Whitman, Frederick Douglass, and L. C. Q. Lamar, Ecstatic Nation brilliantly balances cultural and political history: It's a riveting account of the sectional conflict that preceded the Civil War, and it astutely chronicles the complex aftermath of that war and Reconstruction, including the promise that women would share in a new definition of American citizenship. It takes us from photographic surveys of the Sierra Nevadas to the discovery of gold in the South Dakota hills, and it signals the painful, thrilling birth of modern America.

An epic tale by award-winning author Brenda Wineapple, Ecstatic Nation lyrically and with true originality captures the optimism, the failures, and the tragic exuberance of a renewed Republic.


 
Details
  • ISBN-13: 9780061234576
  • ISBN-10: 0061234575
  • Publisher: HarperTorch
  • Publish Date: August 2013
  • Page Count: 722
  • Dimensions: 9.23 x 6.27 x 1.86 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2.15 pounds


Related Categories

Books > History > United States - 19th Century
Books > History > United States - Civil War

 
Publishers Weekly Reviews

Publishers Weekly® Reviews

  • Reviewed in: Publishers Weekly, page .
  • Review Date: 2013-05-13
  • Reviewer: Staff

This lavish record of the eventful decades surrounding the Civil War explores a divided nation through the personalities of its growing and ideologically diversifying populace. Lincoln emerges as the iconic celebrity of the era’s central conflict, but the real stars are the supporting characters. Politicians, poets, slaves, slave holders, transcendentalists, Mormons, women’s suffragists, and Native American chiefs are just some of the colorful characters who run the gamut from “prolific and daring and conventional” to “spare and iron-willed” and “excessive and homegrown.” Acclaimed biographer Wineapple (White Heat: The Friendship of Emily Dickinson and Thomas Wentworth Higginson, a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award) gracefully choreographs a staggering number of primary sources, weaving disparate voices together into one revelatory thread. In her depiction of the bloodshed of the Civil War, she eschews “statistics defy comprehension,” focusing instead on specific scenes and personal stories that capture the magnitude of a pivotal moment before fleshing them out with analyses of contemporaneous reactions. The result reads like a series of biographies-in-miniature, a marvelous survey of both familiar and unsung American stories, contextualized and framed within one sweeping canvas. This is sure to enrich any reader’s understanding of the complicated history of Civil War–era America. Agent: Lynn Nesbit, Janklow & Nesbit.

 
BookPage Reviews

A pivotal era in American history

When John Quincy Adams died in 1848, much of the nation was in the midst of exuberance and exultation. For many people it was a time of great optimism, for reasons including the discovery of gold in California and the establishment of the new Free Soil political party. At the same time, there was also greed, violence and a refusal by many to consider a solution to the nation’s most controversial issue: slavery. In her masterful, sweeping synthesis of a transformative time, Ecstatic Nation: Confidence, Crisis, and Compromise, 1848-1877, Brenda Wineapple explores what followed Adams’ death in a wonderfully readable book that holds our interest on every page. It is a rare combination of cultural, political, intellectual and military history that brings this pivotal period to vivid life.

Delegates to the Constitutional Convention, realizing that their entire project could rise or fall depending on how they handled the issue of slavery, had decided to leave the word “slave” out of their final document. Through the years other compromises were reached on slavery until the word “compromise” went from being regarded as an act of statesmanship to an epithet. The abolitionist Wendell Phillips noted, “The great poison of the age is race hatred,” which affected white attitudes not only toward black slaves but also toward Native Americans.

By the spring of 1866, in the wake of the Civil War, Elizabeth Cady Stanton declared the women’s rights movement was in “deep water.” Led by Frederick Douglass and Henry Ward Beecher, among others, the American Equal Rights Association was created to lobby the government for equal rights for all, female and male, black and white. But many abolitionists felt it was only the “Negro’s hour,” rather than, as Stanton said it should be, the “nation’s hour.”

Wineapple introduces us to familiar names such as Clara Barton and P.T. Barnum, as well as a wide array of lesser-known figures, such as Lydia Maria Child, a popular author of children’s literature who was also an abolitionist. Child is best known today for the Thanksgiving Day jingle “Over the river, and through the wood,” but her other works included an influential book advocating immediate emancipation of the slaves, a novel about interracial marriage and a compilation on the condition of women.

In Ecstatic Nation, Wineapple offers a beautifully written and skillfully woven narrative that anyone interested in American history should enjoy.

 
BAM Customer Reviews