A Wilderness So Immense: The Louisiana Purchase and the Destiny of America

A Wilderness So Immense: The Louisiana Purchase and the Destiny of America

by Jon Kukla
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A Wilderness So Immense: The Louisiana Purchase and the Destiny of America by Jon Kukla

The remarkable story of the land purchase that doubled the size of our young nation, set the stage for its expansion across the continent, and confronted Americans with new challenges of ethnic and religious diversity. In a saga that stretches from Paris and Madrid to Haiti, Virginia, New York, and New Orleans, Jon Kukla shows how rivalries over the Mississippi River and its vast watershed brought France, Spain, Great Britain, and the United States to the brink of war and shaped the destiny of the new American republic. We encounter American leaders--Jefferson and Jay, Monroe and Pickering among them--clashing over the opening of the West and its implications for sectional balance of power. We see these disagreements nearly derailing the Constitutional Convention of 1787 and spawning a series of separatist conspiracies long before the dispute over slavery in the territory set the stage for the Missouri Compromise and the Civil War.
Kukla makes it clear that as the French Revolution and Napoleon’s empire-building rocked the Atlantic community, Spain’s New World empire grew increasingly vulnerable to American and European rivals. Jefferson hoped to take Spain’s territories--piece by piece,--while Napoleon schemed to reestablish a French colonial empire in the Caribbean and North America.
Interweaving the stories of ordinary settlers and imperial decision-makers, Kukla depicts a world of revolutionary intrigue that transformed a small and precarious union into a world power--all without bloodshed and for about four cents an acre.

Author Biography:

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780375408120
Publisher: Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group
Publication date: 04/08/2003
Edition description: 1ST
Pages: 448
Product dimensions: 6.52(w) x 9.49(h) x 1.33(d)

About the Author

Jon Kukla received his B.A. from Carthage College and his M.A. and Ph.D. from the University of Toronto. He has directed historical research and publishing at the Library of Virginia and has been curator and director of the Historic New Orleans Collection. In 2000 he returned to Virginia as director of the Patrick Henry Memorial Foundation. He lives in Charlotte County, Virginia.

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A Wilderness So Immense 5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 2 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I count it a major accomplishment when a historian writes a book that keeps you on the edge of your chair - even though you know the ending! Here, the wealth of pre-Purchase historical detail is made so deeply interesting, it was hard to put the book down. The machinations of the New England Separatists, Wilkinson, and Burr are reasons enough to fear for our infant republic. The interplay of personalities is wonderful. I'm particularly grateful for Kukla's rehabilitation of Livingston. Academics will applaud Kukla's scholarship. But this could be a recommended read for all Americans as one more insight into the building of our nation. Put it on your own 'To Read' list.
Guest More than 1 year ago
We have long needed a book that reaches beyond the usual cliches affixed to the Louisiana Purchase and sets this major historical event in its contexts in European power politics, American constitutional and political controversy, and the often tense relations among the various empires in North America. Jon Kukla has pulled it off in a book that is at once gripping and scholarly, well-documented and well-told. This book will be essential for anyone interested in American diplomacy, the development of the Old Southwest, Spain's American empire, the early Republic, and well-wrought historical narrative. Scholars and general readers alike will welcome this book, which will stand for years as the definitive treatment of its subject.