Mar 11, 2008

Throes of Democracy: The American Civil War Era, 1829-1877

A Cato Institute Book Forum featuring the author Walter A. McDougall, Professor of History, University of Pennsylvania; with comments by Herman Belz, Professor of History, University of Maryland; and Anne Sarah Rubin, Associate Professor of History, University of Maryland Baltimore County. Moderated by Justin Logan, Cato Institute.

Throes of Democracy, the second volume in Walter McDougall’s series on American history, illuminates a period of profound transformation in American politics and society. From the presidency of Andrew Jackson to the splits and regeneration of American political parties, Throes of Democracy describes in vivid detail America’s transformation from frontier Republic to national state.

McDougall, winner of the Pulitzer Prize, pays particular attention to the diverse experiences of the new Americans representing a mélange of religions, ethnicities, and ideologies: Jews, Protestants, Catholics; Germans, Irish, Africans; Whigs and Democrats. Examining the outcome of the Civil War, McDougall makes a compelling argument that the failure of Reconstruction can be seen as a progenitor of America’s latter-day failed attempts at regime change and nation building. In the end, McDougall’s dedication to historical accuracy, his elegant prose, and his sharp analysis make for an eminently readable and moving narrative.