The Great Heart of the Republic: St. Louis and the cultural Civil War [NOOK Book]

Overview

In the battles to determine the destiny of the United States in the middle decades of the nineteenth century, St. Louis, then at the hinge between North, South, and West, was ideally placed to bring these sections together. At least, this was the hope of a coterie of influential St. Louisans. But their visions of re-orienting the nation's politics with Westerners at the top and St. Louis as a cultural, commercial, and national capital crashed as the country was tom apart by convulsions over slavery, emancipation,...
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The Great Heart of the Republic: St. Louis and the cultural Civil War

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Overview

In the battles to determine the destiny of the United States in the middle decades of the nineteenth century, St. Louis, then at the hinge between North, South, and West, was ideally placed to bring these sections together. At least, this was the hope of a coterie of influential St. Louisans. But their visions of re-orienting the nation's politics with Westerners at the top and St. Louis as a cultural, commercial, and national capital crashed as the country was tom apart by convulsions over slavery, emancipation, and Manifest Destiny. While standard accounts frame the coming of the Civil War as strictly a conflict between the North and the South who were competing to expand their way of life, Arenson shifts the focus to the distinctive culture and politics of the American West, recovering the region’s importance for understanding the Civil War and examining the vision of western advocates themselves, and the importance of their distinct agenda for shaping the political, economic, and cultural future of the nation.
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Editorial Reviews

History News Network
Arenson's The Great Heart of the Republic...reveals the fresh and complex insights that close study of Missouri can yield for our understanding of nineteenth-century American history...Arenson's book offers a much broader interpretation of the Civil War than a typical work of local history. Rather than provide a comprehensive account of St. Louis's past, he uses the city's story to reveal a "nuanced, intimate history of the Civil War era from the heart of the republic." The result is a beautifully written and strikingly original interpretation of the causes, conduct, and consequences of the war. Like the authors of several recent works, Arenson wishes to reorient the discussion of sectionalism and the Civil War by emphasizing the West's importance in shaping the conflict. In Arenson's recounting, the war looks less like a fight between North and South over slavery, and more like a messy struggle between northerners, southerners, and westerners from a variety of ethnic, racial, and religious backgrounds...Arenson's work is wide ranging and ambitious, covering art, architecture, and historical memory as well as the history of politics and policy...Readers will discover a creative history of mid-nineteenth-century America in microcosm.
— Andre M. Fiche
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780674059184
  • Publisher: Harvard University Press
  • Publication date: 5/3/2010
  • Sold by: Barnes & Noble
  • Format: eBook
  • Pages: 352
  • File size: 736 KB

Meet the Author

Adam Arenson is Assistant Professor of History, University of Texas at El Paso.

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Sort by: Showing 1 Customer Reviews
  • Posted February 27, 2011

    A groundbreaking book about the Civil War

    This is a truly remarkable--even game changing--book about the Civil War. It doesn't focus at all on the military aspects of the Civil War; barely a shot was fired in St. Louis. Instead, it zeros in on the social, cultural and ideological aspects of the most important war in our nation's history. The place where the battle for the nation's hearts and minds played out was, surprisingly, St. Louis. In fact, on the eve of the Civil War, it was the fourth largest city in the United States and the border between North and South, and, also pivotally, the gateway to the American West.

    You may know of Missouri as a border state and even now a bell weather state in presidential elections. But if you want to know about the place that was the epicenter of the Civil War conflict--not just between North and South but also to control the American West--- you must read this book. Beautifully written and researched, reading like a novel and just 200 pages long, this book will change the way you view the most important war in American history.

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