The Republic for Which It Stands: The United States During Reconstruction and the Gilded Age, 1865–1896

Richard White. Oxford Univ, $35 (1,008p) ISBN 978-0-19-973581-5
This splendid history from White (Railroaded), professor of American history at Stanford, reveals why the 30 years after the Civil War do not readily draw historians to them. These decades are marked by racial violence, bitter labor strikes, political corruption, and abject poverty, and were filled with loutish, mean-spirited men. Measured by intellectual achievement and reformist zeal, the period was also comparatively drab and unproductive. Yet White manages to imbue these ignoble years with the importance that they’re due. His account’s central focus is public affairs and he foregrounds the West and its native tribes, farmers, workers, and cities; his astute examination of the “Greater Reconstruction of the West” works as a counterpoint to the failures of Southern Reconstruction after 1865. But White covers the whole country, opening with Lincoln and closing with William McKinley’s 1896 election as president. He offers a brilliant chapter on the meaning of home, and though the book generally pays greater attention to the on-the-ground facts of the era than on its intellectual or cultural shifts, that’s a small matter measured against the book’s strengths. White’s great achievement is to capture the drabbest, least-redeeming three decades of American history with unimpeachable authority. Illus. (Sept.)
Reviewed on: 05/29/2017
Release date: 09/01/2017
Genre: Nonfiction
Paperback - 968 pages - 978-0-19-005376-5
MP3 CD - 978-1-9786-4959-0
Ebook - 912 pages - 978-0-19-061907-7
Ebook - 912 pages - 978-0-19-061906-0
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