Synopses & Reviews
The years from 1815 to 1848 were arguably the richest period in American life. In Waking Giant
, award-winning historian David S. Reynolds illuminates the era's exciting political story alongside the fascinating social and cultural movements that influenced it. He casts fresh light on Andrew Jackson, who redefined the presidency, as well as John Quincy Adams and James K. Polk, who expanded the nation's territory and strengthened its position internationally.
Waking Giant captures the turbulence of a democracy caught in the throes of the slavery controversy, the rise of capitalism, and the birth of urbanization. Reynolds reveals unknown dimensions of the Second Great Awakening with its sects, cults, and self-styled prophets. He brings alive the reformers, abolitionists, and prohibitionists who struggled to correct America's worst social ills. He uncovers the political roots of some of America's greatest authors and artists, from Ralph Waldo Emerson and Edgar Allan Poe to Thomas Cole and Asher B. Durand, and he re-creates the shocking phenomena that marked the age: bloody duels and violent mobs; Barnum's freaks and all-seeing mesmerists; polygamous prophets and wealthy prostitutes; table-lifting spiritualists and rabble-rousing feminists. All were crucial to the political and social ferment that led to the Civil War. Meticulously researched and masterfully written, Waking Giant is a brilliant chronicle of America's vibrant and tumultuous rise.
A fascinating and definitive history of Jacksonian America by Bancroft Prize–winning author David S. Reynolds.
About the Author
David S. Reynolds is a distinguished professor of English and American studies at the Graduate Center and Baruch College of the City University of New York. He is the author of John Brown, Abolitionist, winner of the Gustavus Myers Outstanding Book Award; Walt Whitman's America, winner of the Bancroft Prize and the Ambassador Book Prize; and Beneath the American Renaissance, winner of Phi Beta Kappa's Christian Gauss Award. He lives in Old Westbury, New York. Arthur Morey has performed in theaters and cabarets in New York, Chicago, and Milan. He freelanced scripts for Paramount and ABC-TV and won awards for both plays and fiction. A former literary manager of Chicago's Body Politic Theatre, he taught acting at Fordham and writing at SUNY Rockland, Northwestern University, and the School of the Art Institute. He edited Viola Spolin for Northwestern University Press and later was managing editor at Renaissance Books in Los Angeles. Winner of a number AudioFile Earphones Awards, he has narrated novels by John Irving, Nathan Englander, Richard Russo, and John Burnam Schwartz, as well as nonfiction by Kurt Eichenwald, John McCain, George Tenet, Deepak Chopra, Gay Talese, and others.