Half Slave and Half Free: The Roots of Civil War

Overview

Revised Edition

With a New Preface and Afterword

In a revised edition, brought completely up to date with a new preface and afterword and an expanded bibliography, Bruce Levine's succinct and persuasive treatment of the basic issues that precipitated the Civil War is as compelling as ever. Levine explores the far-reaching, divisive changes in American life that came with the incomplete Revolution of 1776 and the development of two distinct ...

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Overview

Revised Edition

With a New Preface and Afterword

In a revised edition, brought completely up to date with a new preface and afterword and an expanded bibliography, Bruce Levine's succinct and persuasive treatment of the basic issues that precipitated the Civil War is as compelling as ever. Levine explores the far-reaching, divisive changes in American life that came with the incomplete Revolution of 1776 and the development of two distinct social systems, one based on slavery, the other on free labor—changes out of which the Civil War developed.

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Editorial Reviews

Library Journal
In this vigorously argued narrative tracking the causes of the Civil War, Levine tries to explain what drove so many working people to commit themselves to the cause of freedom--Southern slaves by their efforts to resist bondage and Northern farmers, mechanics, and factory laborers by their support for free soil and free labor principles. By Levine's reckoning, the slavery issue overrode ethnic and economic concerns and made sectional differences almost irreconciliable within the framework of the Union. Levine succeeds in giving fresh views of the social lives of immigrants, slaves, and working people generally, but his preoccupation with the politics of slavery overwhelms his social history and makes disunion seem more predestined than it really was. Still, this is an eminently readable, intelligent book recommended for use in college courses and for purchase by college/university libraries.-- Randall M. Miller, St. Joseph's Univ., Philadelphia
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780809053537
  • Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux
  • Publication date: 5/11/2005
  • Edition description: Revised Edition
  • Edition number: 2
  • Pages: 336
  • Sales rank: 335,390
  • Product dimensions: 6.35 (w) x 8.27 (h) x 0.96 (d)

Meet the Author

Bruce Levine, James G. Randall Professor of History at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, is a co-author of Who Built America? and the author of The Spirit of 1848: German Immigrants, Labor Conflict, and the Coming of Civil War and Confederate Emancipation: Southern Plans to Free Slaves during the Civil War.

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Table of Contents

Introduction : freedom, slavery, and the legacy of the American Revolution 3
1 "Our laborers are our property" : the southern slave economy 17
2 "Each person works for himself" : the ideal and reality of free labor 46
3 "A complete revolution in social life" : cultural change in the antebellum north 71
4 "The anointed lords of creation" : culture and society in the antebellum south 95
5 "Called by the same name" : the many meanings of liberty 121
6 To "fight against the serpent" : antislavery and its early progress 145
7 "A firebell in the night" : the struggle escalates 160
8 "Keep it within limits" : western lands and free soil 177
9 "Anti Nebraska feeling is too deep" : origins and triumph of republicanism 199
10 "The inexorable logic of events" : secession, war, and emancipation 225
Afterword : on popular mobilization in the Civil War era 243
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Sort by: Showing all of 2 Customer Reviews
  • 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

    Recommended

    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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