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Half Slave and Half Free: The Roots of Civil War

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 10, 2010

    Fabulous Book

    In Bruce Levine's book Half Slave and Half Free, he primarily focuses on antebellum America and the multiple causes of the American Civil War. He examines the different factors that led the Northern and Southern states to battle in 1861, yet offers perspectives from both sides. Levine's main argument is that fighting began in the mid nineteenth century in attempt to preserve slavery and he clearly defines his argument through the use of primary sources. For example, throughout his monograph he uses quotations from original journals and speeches that offer the reader a better insight into this crucial time period. Bruce Levine also touches on a number of controversial topics such as the social, political, and economic changes in the North and the South. More specifically, he includes information about religion, southern secession, and the rise of Republicanism to name a few. In spite of this, Levine failed to mention gender issues and class struggles throughout his book. He does not go into much detail about women or children, and the struggles they faced during the American Civil War. Overall, Bruce Levine's book is well put together yet aimed at general readers and audiences alike. It was an easy read, yet it was also very insightful and I learned a lot about the causes of the American Civil War. I would highly recommend it to anyone who in interested in the why the North and the South could not remain united as a nation and eventually engaged in one the bloodiest conflicts in United States History.

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  • Posted October 11, 2010


    Bruce Levine's book Half Slave and Half Free was very informative about the events leading up to and resulting in the American Civil War. The book shows that the seeds of discord were sowed from the nations very founding. The author examines the hypocrisy of a "land of the free" while a large portion is enslaved. The author then examines how the institution of slavery helped to form a common white identity in the south that was based on mastery over others in a social hierarchy.

    The author also focuses on the religious revival prior to the Civil War. This was interesting because the author focused on how the movements differed in the north and south. The south advocated slavery and taught that it was morally sound since it appeared in the Bible. However, the north combined sermons with abolitionism and demanded the end of slavery. The book was very informative and opened me up to new ideas about the causes of the Civil War.

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