In a brilliantly conceived and elegantly written book, Rogan Kersh investigates the idea of national union in the United States. For much of the period between the colonial era and the late nineteenth century, he shows, "union" was the principal rhetorical means by which Americans expressed shared ideals and a common identity without invoking strong nationalism or centralized governance. Through his exploration of how Americans once succeeded in uniting a diverse and fragmented citizenry, Kersh revives a long-forgotten source of U.S. national identity.
Why and how did Americans perceive themselves as one people from the early history of the republic? How did African Americans and others at the margins of U.S. civic culture apply this concept of union? Why did the term disappear from vernacular after the 1880s? In his search for answers, Kersh employs a wide range of methods, including political-theory analysis of writings by James Madison, Frederick Douglass, and Abraham Lincoln and empirical analysis drawing on his own extensive database of American newspapers. The author's findings are persuasiveand often surprising. One intriguing development, for instance, was a strong resurgence of union feelings among Southernersincluding prominent former secessionistsafter the Civil War.
With its fascinating and novel approach, Dreams of a More Perfect Union offers valuable insights about American political history, especially the rise of nationalism and federalism. Equally important, the author's close retracing of the religious, institutional, and other themes coloring the development of unionist thought unveils new knowledge about the origination and transmittal of ideas in a polity.
About the Author
Rogan Kersh is Assciate Professor of Political Science and Public Administration, Maxwell School, Syracuse University. He is coeditor of Medical Malpractice and the U.S. Health Care System: New Century, Different Issues.
What People are Saying About This
"For two centuries, Americans have pursued the idea of forming the 'more perfect union' that our Constitution proposes. Rogan Kersh's inquiry into the changing forms this pursuit has taken is the closest thing we now have to a more perfect intellectual and political history of this central concept of American nationhood."
"In this extraordinary book, Rogan Kersh discovers a lost theme running through American history and he manages to do so with elegance, wit, and polish. This book is big: Dreams of a More Perfect Union will vault Kersh into the elite ranks of the politics and history crowd."
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
Professor Kersh has a masterful writing style. This book gives goes in depth on how this country was concieved and how it grew. This certainly will not be the last book we see from Rogan Kersh.
I thought this would be a tough academic read, and it's certainly thoughtful & you've got to know your American history. But it's REALLY readable. I got very caught up in the account of how Americans like James Madison and Frederic Douglass and Lincoln tried to make this a more genuinely *united* country, and how different groups (blacks, businessmen, southerners, etc) had different ideas of union. I learned a whole lot and had a good time doing it. YOu can't ask much more of a book than this.