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Ecstatic Nation: Confidence, Crisis, and…

Ecstatic Nation: Confidence, Crisis, and Compromise, 1848-1877 (2013)

by Brenda Wineapple

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Ecstatic Nation caught me up completely with its a sweeping, exuberant, unflinching cultural and political history of the era surrounding the American Civil War, 1848--1877, years when the country was deeply divided by slavery, fiercely debating the rights of women, and bent on expanding westward into what was to have been lands set aside for Native Americans. Not just a series of events, Ecstatic Nation also tells the stories of the people of the time and their changing schemes, viewpoints, desires, values, moods, and circumstances.

Embedded in the narrative are incisive mini biographies of characters famous and not, including George Armstrong Custer, Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Frederick Douglass, Lydia Maria Childs, Jefferson Davis, Walt Whitman, Red Cloud, P. T. Barnum, William T. Sherman, and Ralph Waldo Emerson among far too many others to note them all here. Fascinating and eye-opening, with almost 600 pages of text supported by over 100 pages of notes Ecstatic Nation still manages to rip along presenting a lively sometimes disturbing but almost always compelling back-story of today’s United States. ( )
  Jaylia3 | Jun 3, 2014 |
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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 balances cultural and political history: it provides an account of the sectional conflict that preceded the Civil War, and it 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.--From publisher description.… (more)

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