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Other titles in the Civil War America series:
A Dangerous Stir: Fear, Paranoia, and the Making of Reconstruction (Civil War America)
Synopses & Reviews
"Summers carefully teases apart the myriad strands of wartime and postwar political discourse, finding more similarities than one might think between Republican and Democratic rhetoric. . . . Richly detailed and tightly argued. . . . A powerful and fascinating contribution to the literature of Reconstruction politics."
-Journal of Interdisciplinary History "Deeply researched and cleverly written, this new examination of the dark side of Reconstruction will inform, enlighten, and may create a 'stir' of its own."
-The Journal of American History "Offers provocative historical context for thinking about the reactionary rhetoric of today."
-Civil War Book Review "Summers's premise is an intriguing one and his book maintains a feeling of uncertainty, even though the story is well known."
-H-Civil War "A fascinating departure from much of the existing literature on the postwar era."
-The Alabama Review "Based on extensive research and written in readable prose, this stimulating study is not a general study of 1865-1869. . . . Provides excellent brief biographies. . . . Recommended."
-Choice "Carefully researched and congenially written. . . . An important and convincing book, as a well as a very engaging one. . . . Should encourage historians to pay more attention to the role of fear in Reconstruction-era politics."
-Journal of Southern History "A unique look [and] . . . . an important contribution to our history of Reconstruction."
-James Durney "Most historians write about what happened in the past. Summers, in his new history of Reconstruction, instead writes about what failed to occur. . . . [And] chronicles the fears that gripped the people of the era."
-Virginia Quarterly Review "There is perhaps no scholar more capable than Mark Summers to write with authority about the political culture of Reconstruction. With insight, skill, and wit, he recovers and explores a persistent but neglected theme in the writings of the era. In the process, he sheds new and valuable light on such traditional problems in Reconstruction historiography as the curious reaction of Southerners during the summer and fall of 1865, the behavior of President Andrew Johnson, and the increasing radicalization of Republican Reconstruction policies. This is an important book that was waiting to be written."
-Mitchell Snay, author of Fenians, Freedmen, and Southern Whites: Race and Nationality in the Era of Reconstruction
Reconstruction policy after the Civil War, notes Mark Wahlgren Summers, was shaped not simply by politics, principles, and prejudices. Also at work were fears--often unreasonable fears of renewed civil war and a widespread sense that four years of war had thrown the normal constitutional process so dangerously out of kilter that the republic itself remained in peril.
To understand Reconstruction, Summers contends, one must understand that the purpose of the North's war was--first and foremost--to save the Union with its republican institutions intact. During Reconstruction there were always fears in the mix--that the Civil War had settled nothing, that the Union was still in peril, and that its enemies and the enemies of republican government were more resilient and cunning than normal mortals. Many factors shaped the reintegration of the former Confederate states and the North's commitment to Reconstruction, Summers agrees, but the fears of war reigniting, plots against liberty, and a president prepared to father a coup d'état ranked higher among them than historians have recognized.
Both a dramatic narrative of the events of Reconstruction and a groundbreaking new look at what drove these events, A Dangerous Stir is also a valuable look at the role of fear in the politics of the time--and in politics in general.
Summers argues that reconstruction policy after the Civil War was shaped not simply by politics, principles, and prejudices, but also by fears--often unreasonable fears of renewed civil war and a widespread sense that four years of war had thrown the normal constitutional process so dangerously out of kilter that the republic itself remained in peril. Many factors shaped the reintegration of the former Confederate states and the North's commitment to Reconstruction, Summers agrees, but the fears of war reigniting, plots against liberty, and a president prepared to father a coup d'état ranked higher among them than historians have recognized.
About the Author
Mark Wahlgren Summers is Thomas D. Clark Professor of History at the University of Kentucky, Lexington. He is the author of seven books, including Rum, Romanism, and Rebellion: The Making of a President, 1884 and Party Games: Getting, Keeping, and Using Power in Gilded Age Politics (both UNC Press).
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