Reviews provided by Syndetics
Library Journal Review
This authoritative addition to Oxford's "History of the United States" series is a product of synthesis and astute analysis. Intellectual and cultural historian Howe (Making the American Self: Jonathan Edwards to Abraham Lincoln) touches upon the rapidly expanding nation's economy, foreign relations, and social structures, taking into account race, gender, and ethnicity, and bringing special insights to his discussion of religious revivals and the evolution of moral consciousness, reform movements, and political institutions. The evocative title, which was the first message carried by Morse's telegraph, refers to the changes wrought by religious sensibilities as well as those wrought by technological breakthroughs. Howe boldly emphasizes the "communications revolution" rather than the "market revolution" of the early 19th century, asserting that the latter largely happened among 18th-century commercial farmers. On the other hand, he does not emphasize a "Jacksonian America." Andrew Jackson, he asserts, was not as uniformly democratic or influential as his supporters maintain. A worthy addition to public and academic institutions; beginning scholars will appreciate the maps and the extensive bibliographic essay, fleshed out by the journal citations in the footnotes. Highly recommended.-Frederick J. Augustyn Jr., Library of Congress (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
This masterful and sweeping synthesis of the early republic sets the standard for treatments of this period. Howe (emer., UCLA) argues that the twin revolutions of technology and communication were the fundamental elements shaping historical developments in this era, but he pays careful attention to the many facets of the period's history, including politics, economics, and the socio-cultural changes that so profoundly altered US society. The book's strengths are numerous, but Howe's signal contribution is to call into serious question the common characterization of Jacksonian democracy as a genuinely egalitarian impulse that greatly extended the scope of individual liberty during these years. Howe argues that this movement possessed a strong racial characteristic that wrote many groups out of the US polity as it expanded opportunities for white males. "The consequences of white male democracy, rather than its achievement, shaped the political life of this period." This much-needed corrective to the excessive lionization of the era's purported democratic character is vast in scope, yet eminently readable. Howe makes an admirable contribution to the historiography of the early republic even as he synthesizes much of that literature. Scholars, students, and general audiences with an interest in this crucial period will find this book a rewarding read. Summing Up: Essential. All collections. K. M. Gannon Grand View College
Author notes provided by Syndetics
Daniel Walker Howe is Rhodes Professor of American History Emeritus, Oxford University and Professor of History Emeritus, University of California, Los Angeles. He is the author of The Political Culture of the American Whigs and Making the American Self: Jonathan Edwards to Abraham Lincoln. Helives in Los Angeles.