A PEOPLE'S CONTEST"": The Union and the Civil War 1861-1865 by Phillip Shaw Paludan

A PEOPLE'S CONTEST"": The Union and the Civil War 1861-1865

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KIRKUS REVIEW

A thoughtful, scholarly, and highly readable survey of the changes wrought in northern society by the twin engines of Civil War and industrialization. Paludan (Hist./Univ. of Kansas) has put aside linearity for the sake of breadth and depth, and the result is a rich portrait of a society riding a breaking wave of change. Dividing his material into sections that include politics, capitalism, labor, agriculture, emancipation, and religion, Paludan offers both the facts and the feelings of the times--and stirs up some of the givens of our own. There's particularly good material here on party politics and the interplay of war and industry: the linkage of patriotism with party loyalty (a campaigning tactic not yet obsolete); the mythologizing of the self-made man, the individualist and capitalist, building up the country as he pursues his own interests; the growing gap between rich and poor, as industry requires larger and larger concentrations of capital. Also, there's fine material on media manipulation in the cause of the federal monetary system; the debate over the income tax; the ""dictatorial"" aspects of the Lincoln presidency (Paludan thinks them much overplayed); and a particularly interesting chapter on religion in America, including the ""domestication of death"" in the wake of the war, our ""jingoistic Christianity,"" and a sympathetic look at the both pacifists and abolitionist Quakers' moral dilemmas. Though never exciting, this is competent work that amplifies our understanding of forces set in motion in the 19th century, and still felt today.

Pub Date: Nov. 23rd, 1988
Publisher: Harper & Row