A Dangerous Stir: Fear, Paranoia, and the Making of Reconstruction

A Dangerous Stir: Fear, Paranoia, and the Making of Reconstruction

by Mark Wahlgren Summers
     
 

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Reconstruction policy after the Civil War, observes Mark Wahlgren Summers, was shaped not simply by politics, principles, and prejudices. Also at work were fears--often unreasonable fears of renewed civil war and a widespread sense that four years of war had thrown the normal constitutional process so dangerously out of kilter that the republic itself remained in

Overview

Reconstruction policy after the Civil War, observes Mark Wahlgren Summers, was shaped not simply by politics, principles, and prejudices. Also at work were fears--often unreasonable fears of renewed civil war and a widespread sense that four years of war had thrown the normal constitutional process so dangerously out of kilter that the republic itself remained in peril.

To understand Reconstruction, Summers contends, one must understand that the purpose of the North's war was--first and foremost--to save the Union with its republican institutions intact. During Reconstruction there were always fears in the mix--that the Civil War had settled nothing, that the Union was still in peril, and that its enemies and the enemies of republican government were more resilient and cunning than normal mortals. Many factors shaped the reintegration of the former Confederate states and the North's commitment to Reconstruction, Summers agrees, but the fears of war reigniting, plots against liberty, and a president prepared to father a coup d'etat ranked higher among them than historians have recognized.

Both a dramatic narrative of the events of Reconstruction and a groundbreaking new look at what drove these events, A Dangerous Stir is also a valuable look at the role of fear in the politics of the time--and in politics in general.

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
Summers's premise is an intriguing one and his book maintains a feeling of uncertainty, even though the story is well known.—H-Civil War

Offers provocative historical context for thinking about the reactionary rhetoric of today.—Civil War Book Review

Deeply researched and cleverly written, this new examination of the dark side of Reconstruction will inform, enlighten, and may create a 'stir' of its own.—The Journal of American History

Based on extensive research and written in readable prose, this stimulating study is not a general study of 1865-1869. . . . Provides excellent brief biographies. . . . Recommended.—Choice

Carefully researched and congenially written. . . . An important and convincing book, as a well as a very engaging one. . . . Should encourage historians to pay more attention to the role of fear in Reconstruction-era politics.—Journal of Southern History

Both a dramatic narrative of the events of the Reconstruction and a groundbreaking new look at what drove these events, A Dangerous Stir is also a valuable look at the role of fear in the politics of the time—and in politics in general.—McCormick Messenger

Summer's clear prose dances with apt flourishes. . . . fresh, insightful, and relevant.—North Carolina Historical Review

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781469610405
Publisher:
The University of North Carolina Press
Publication date:
12/01/2012
Series:
Civil War America
Sold by:
Barnes & Noble
Format:
NOOK Book
Pages:
342
File size:
5 MB

What People are saying about this

From the Publisher
This critical interpretation of Reconstruction examines its political framework but quickly moves beyond politics into the pulsating realm of conspiracy and fear mongering. Author of numerous important books on nineteenth-century America, Summers has again provided a provocative and penetrating analysis of an extremely significant period of U.S. history. A Dangerous Stir is undeniably a must and stirring read!—Orville Vernon Burton, author of The Age of Lincoln, Burroughs Professor of Southern History and Culture, Coastal Carolina University

Meet the Author

Mark Wahlgren Summers is Thomas D. Clark Professor of History at the University of Kentucky, Lexington. He is the author of seven books, including Rum, Romanism, and Rebellion: The Making of a President, 1884 and Party Games: Getting, Keeping, and Using Power in Gilded Age Politics (both UNC Press).

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