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Throes of Democracy

Throes of Democracy Cover

Throes of Democracy

The American Civil War Era, 1829-1877

By Walter A. McDougall

Harper Perennial, Paperback, 9780060567538, 787pp.

Publication Date: February 24, 2009


From its shocking curtain-raiser the conflagration that consumed Lower Manhattan in 1835 to the climactic centennial year of 1876, when Americans staged a corrupt, deadlocked presidential campaign (fought out in Florida), Walter A. McDougall's Throes of Democracy carries the saga of the American people's continuous self-reinvention across five tumultuous decades. From the inauguration of President Andrew Jackson through the eras of Manifest Destiny, Civil War, and Reconstruction, it is an epic in which Mormon prophet Joseph Smith, showman P. T. Barnum, and circus clown Dan Rice figure as prominently as Herman Melville, Walt Whitman, and Henry Ward Beecher a zesty, irreverent narrative that brazenly reveals our national penchant for pretense.

Praise For Throes of Democracy

“A broad-ranging portrait of America in a time of torment. . . . McDougall ventures that in the Civil War era something of the nation’s essential nature came through: progressive yet conservative, pious yet sanguinary. Provocative and richly detailed--a welcome contribution to popular history.”
-Kirkus Reviews (starred review)

“History buffs will defnitely gravitate to this thick book. The second in a projected multivolume history of the U.S., it proves as boisterous as the busy, mid-nineteenth-century Americans whose expanding, industrializing, and warring McDougall chronicles. . . . A provocative survey frmo a premier historian.”
-Booklist (starred review)