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How the South Won the Civil War: Oligarchy,…
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How the South Won the Civil War: Oligarchy, Democracy, and the Continuing… (edition 2020)

by Heather Cox Richardson (Author)

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2074102,967 (4.29)12
"While in the short term--militarily--the North won the Civil War, in the long term--ideologically--victory went to the South. The continual expansion of the Western frontier allowed a Southern oligarchic ideology to find a new home and take root. Even with the abolition of slavery and the equalizing power of the 13th, 14th, and 15th Amendments, and the ostensible equalizing of economic opportunity afforded by Western expansion, anti-democratic practices were deeply embedded in the country's foundations,in which the rhetoric of equality struggled against the power of money. As the settlers from the East pushed into the West, so too did all of its hierarchies, reinforced by the seizure of Mexican lands at the end of the Mexican-American War and violence toward Native Americans. Both the South and the West depended on extractive industries--cotton in the former and mining and oil in the latter--giving rise to the creation of a white business elite"--… (more)
Member:jpbowes
Title:How the South Won the Civil War: Oligarchy, Democracy, and the Continuing Fight for the Soul of America
Authors:Heather Cox Richardson (Author)
Info:Oxford University Press (2020), Edition: Illustrated, 272 pages
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How the South Won the Civil War: Oligarchy, Democracy, and the Continuing Fight for the Soul of America by Heather Cox Richardson (Author)

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Showing 3 of 3
This is a clear-eyed retelling of US history focusing on the many step-by-step legal and economic maneuverings that condemned black and other people people of color to a lower caste. Richardson, a political historian, presents a variety of factors at multiple turning points that created the United States we know today, casting light particularly on the ever-growing chasm between the two political parties. It's a must read for anyone interested in how we got where we are now and how we might create a better future. ( )
  dcvance | May 4, 2021 |
Whether it’s the pioneer, the yeoman farmer, or the cowboy, America’s iconic hero is believed to be a rugged individualist who was self-made. Heather Cox Richardson calls bulls#@$ on that label. Sure, pioneers, farmers, and cowboys are quintessential Americans. But how self-made were those people? We’re they individuals who made it on their own, or did they rely on some substantial help from outsiders?

According to American legend, the colonialist pioneer, the southern plantation owner, and the western rancher were all self-made warriors whose grit and effort paid off. Richardson contests that belief by pointing out that the colonialists needed substantial protection from the British army (from French and Natives), the southern plantation owner needed stolen labor and a police force to protect their “property,” and the rancher needed an extensive series of military forts to steal land from natives and Mexicans. Without massive government intervention projects like railroads, dams, military fort (and later bases), and racist law enforcement (like looking the other way when white settlers stole land and killed immigrants and natives), the economies of these “self-made” men (and they were mostly men) would never have survived.

So, why did the rugged individualist mythology arise? Richardson makes a compelling argument that the demonization of the government was a holdover from the antebellum era when rich slaveowners didn’t want the civil rights of others getting in their way of profit. After the Civil War, that mentality shifted to the West, where whites migrated, built capital, and then promoted the idea that they “deserved” their riches. Demonizing the government which made their wealth possible made sense, since democratic populations might see the hoarding, compare it to the little they received after their hard labor, and use taxes to reclaim their share. ( )
1 vote ebnelson | Jan 27, 2021 |
This is isn't a particularly long book, far from it, but it seemed like three different books to me. The fairly provocative title got me quickly into the first one, and the author skillfully points out how I could reasonably get from what I already knew very well about how the American South developed into the Confederacy and how the South did superb work at making tasty lemon dessert out of the sour lemons that the Union Army had served them, by creating a new "slavery by another name" in the post Civil War century. The author's big point is that everything that made the South the South, was equally and quite successfully recreated in the American West. Read the book; it all make sense. However, in moving further through American history with this major political thread, the author eventually gets to years I remember fairly vividly. I grew up in a home with "I Like Ike" buttons and stickers. (I suspect the author is a few years younger than me.) I remember the Goldwater campaign where two books the author mentions in detail, because they capture the political thread she writes about, were easier to get a hold of than the daily newspaper, because, well, you had to actually pay for newspaper, and these books were handed out like candy. My Ike-liking father finally moved on to support a known segregationist, while I was off to Chicago immediately before the Democratic Convention, and where you could count police officers on the street corners by the dozens, well before protests started. I was in a class on college campus when Kent State happened. For this part of the book, the book seemed a tad off to me, and I suspect it's because certain historical events hit me more viscerally than they did the somewhat younger author. Finally, the book reaches present day Trumplandia, and everything is so obvious for anyone who has been paying the least bit attention, that it all seems a bit unnecessary to detail in this much writing. The main and important point is the extension or juxtaposition (whatever your preference) of the classic Confederate thinking, to that of the American West world of cattle barons, railroad tycoons, and precious metals mining millionaires. ( )
1 vote larryerick | Jul 10, 2020 |
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"While in the short term--militarily--the North won the Civil War, in the long term--ideologically--victory went to the South. The continual expansion of the Western frontier allowed a Southern oligarchic ideology to find a new home and take root. Even with the abolition of slavery and the equalizing power of the 13th, 14th, and 15th Amendments, and the ostensible equalizing of economic opportunity afforded by Western expansion, anti-democratic practices were deeply embedded in the country's foundations,in which the rhetoric of equality struggled against the power of money. As the settlers from the East pushed into the West, so too did all of its hierarchies, reinforced by the seizure of Mexican lands at the end of the Mexican-American War and violence toward Native Americans. Both the South and the West depended on extractive industries--cotton in the former and mining and oil in the latter--giving rise to the creation of a white business elite"--

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