At the Precipice: Americans North and South during the Secession Crisis

At the Precipice: Americans North and South during the Secession Crisis

by Shearer Davis Bowman
     
 

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Bowman explores the different ways in which Americans, North and South, black and white, understood their interests, rights, and honor during the secession period. He examines the lives and thoughts of key figures and provides an especially vivid glimpse into what less famous men and women in both sections thought about themselves and the worlds in which they lived

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Overview

Bowman explores the different ways in which Americans, North and South, black and white, understood their interests, rights, and honor during the secession period. He examines the lives and thoughts of key figures and provides an especially vivid glimpse into what less famous men and women in both sections thought about themselves and the worlds in which they lived, and how their thoughts informed their actions during this time. Both sides glorified the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution of the United States, yet they interpreted those sacred documents in markedly different ways and held very different notions of what constituted "American" values.

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"[A] work that will be invaluable for graduate students and scholars interested in antebellum sectionalism and the secession crisis."—Journal of American History

"[Bowman] does . . . a fine job of nailing the basic beliefs of Americans on both sides of the sectional split. . . . [Bowman's] extensive research is apparent. Highly recommended."—Choice

"[A] rewarding read that provides a detailed account of what a wide spectrum of individuals—some famous and others virtually unknown—believed was happening to their beloved republic in the final years before the war."—Civil War Times

"Unconventional yet persuasive. . . . Readers . . . are likely to come away feeling both that the Civil War was largely inevitable and that the instinct of U.S. politics to find compromise solutions is so strong that only a conflict as stark as the one between slavery and human freedom could overcome it."—Foreign Affairs

"[Bowman has] enriched the voluminous historiography of the Civil War and its legacy."—Journal of the North Carolina Association of Historians

"A book that is as both elegantly written and historically grounded as is At the Precipice will please specialists and inform lay readers alike."—The Historian

"A valuable resource for those interested in the country's growing friction during the prewar years, especially students and general readers."—Southern Historian

"An eminently worthy edition to scholarship on the Civil War."—Journal of Southern History

"This work would serve admirably as a textbook. . . . Both academics and general readers will benefit from this study."—The Alabama Review

"This wide-ranging synthesis showcases the late Shearer Davis Bowman's command of antebellum history and his intellectual generosity." —The North Carolina Historical Review
"Bowman's last book…is one that merits attention." —Georgia Historical Quarterly

"Undergraduates in Civil War classes, together with the general reading public, will find this book a useful introduction to the affairs of the nation as it stood on the precipice of a massive, and tragic, civil war."—Arkansas Historical Quarterly

"There is a wealth of information and ideas in this book. . . . Intellectually challenging and thought-provoking. . . . [It] will expand your understanding of America entering the Civil War."—TOCWOC: A Civil War Blog

"Takes the reader into the thinking of the leading actors."—The Courier

"A compelling . . . addition to an underdeveloped field of history. . . . Worthy of reading for those interested in the American history of interracial relationships."—Arkansas Review

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781469621364
Publisher:
The University of North Carolina Press
Publication date:
05/15/2014
Series:
Littlefield History of the Civil War Era Series
Pages:
392
Product dimensions:
21.60(w) x 14.50(h) x 1.10(d)

What People are saying about this

From the Publisher
There have been many books about the secession crisis—but nearly all of them have focused on the political brinksmanship and military chest-thumping that led to disunion and war. Bowman widens the lens and provides a thoroughly original, comprehensive, and gripping story of how a more complex tapestry of Americans North and South, male and female, black and white, famous and unknown, dealt with this unprecedented challenge to their national and local identities. The result adds much to the scholarship of the Great Secession winter—and sheds welcome new light on long-neglected themes.—Harold Holzer, author of Lincoln President-Elect: Abraham Lincoln and the Great Secession Winter 1860-1861

Meet the Author

Shearer Davis Bowman is an associate professor in history at the University of Kentucky. He is author of Masters and Lords: Mid-19th-Century U.S. Planters and Prussian Junkers.

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