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Posted July 3, 2013
This is a terrific book. It's a must read for anyone interested in the history of the young republic.
As a historian and historic site interpreter with nearly thirty years of experience teaching about the U.S. during the Federal period, I must say that Jack Larkin's The Reshaping of Everyday Life is the best and most useful general treatment of the early republic I have encountered. I say this for two reasons. First, the book is filled with documented insights into the details of the lives of ordinary Americans. Second, and more important, Larkin's analysis of these details provides the kind of synthesis that supports not only a deeper understanding of the complexity of the times themselves but also allows meaningful comparisons with other eras, including our own.
Particularly valuable is Larkin's use of demographic, economic, geographic, and technological data to underscore how dynamic this period was, to overturn the glib generalizations of life in the past that one too often hears, and to remind us that change happens not only between eras but within them, too.
All this, and the book's very readable style and approach, make The Reshaping of Everyday Life an essential part of anyone's U.S. history library.
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Posted October 15, 2014
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