Ecstatic Nation: Confidence, Crisis, and Compromise, 1848-1877 by Brenda Wineapple
A New York Times Notable Book of 2013
A Kirkus Best Book of 2013
A Bookpage Best Book of 2013
Dazzling in scope, Ecstatic Nation illuminates one of the most dramatic and momentous chapters in America's past, when the country dreamed big, craved new lands and new freedom, and was bitterly divided over its great moral wrong: slavery. With a canvas of extraordinary characters, such as P. T. Barnum, Walt Whitman, Frederick Douglass, and L. C. Q. Lamar, Ecstatic Nation brilliantly balances cultural and political history: It's a riveting account of the sectional conflict that preceded the Civil War, and it astutely chronicles the complex aftermath of that war and Reconstruction, including the promise that women would share in a new definition of American citizenship. It takes us from photographic surveys of the Sierra Nevadas to the discovery of gold in the South Dakota hills, and it signals the painful, thrilling birth of modern America.
An epic tale by award-winning author Brenda Wineapple, Ecstatic Nation lyrically and with true originality captures the optimism, the failures, and the tragic exuberance of a renewed Republic.
Brenda Wineapple is the prizewinning author of several books, including White Heat: The Friendship of Emily Dickinson and Thomas Wentworth Higginson, which was a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award and a New York Times Notable Book. She lives in New York City.
Table of Contents
Prologue: The End of Earth 1
Part 1 (1848-1861)
1 Higher Laws 15
2 Who Ain't a Slave? 38
3 One Aggresses 58
4 Democracy 77
5 Sovereignty 99
6 Revolutions Never Go Backward 125
7 The Impending Crisis 149
8 A Clank of Metal 165
Part 2 (1861-1865)
9 On to Richmond 197
10 Battle Cry of Freedom 223
11 This Thing Now Never Seems to Stop 250
12 The Last Full Measure of Devotion 272
13 Fairly Won 296
14 Armed Liberty 325
15 And This Is Richmond 351
16 The Simple, Fierce Deed 367
Part 3 (1865-1876)
17 But Half Accomplished 391
18 Amphitheatrum Johnsonianum 411
19 Power 430
20 Deep Water 450
21 Running from the Past 475
22 Westward the Course of Empire 506
23 With the Ten Commandments in One Hand 529
24 Conciliation; or, the Living 559
Selected Bibliography 667
What People are Saying About This
“Blending cultural and political history, Ecstatic Nation offers new perspectives on this transformative era in American history.”
Ecstatic Nation: Confidence, Crisis, and Compromise, 1848-1877 2 out of 5based on
More than 1 year ago
I found the book to be mistitled and disappointing. Far from being ecstatic, by the end of the book, if not long before, the substance of events portrayed are discouraging. Moreover, Wineapple went off on tangents that frequently leave the reader wondering "what's her point/" The vignettes she included might have been illustrative of some underlying theme or issue. However, more often than not they stood isolated unto themselves.
Perhaps the book was conceived to contextualize the Civil War by describing the events preceding and following the war. If so, the connections among events are not drawn tightly enough to make this obvious. By the end, my view of the book was unecstatic.
A disappointed reader.
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