From Bloody Shirt to Full Dinner Pail: The Transformation of Politics and Governance in the Gilded Age

Charles W. Calhoun, Hill and Wang, $25 (176p) ISBN 9780809047932
The politics of the late 19th century, or the Gilded Age, is the subject of this short history, and the author hopes to draw parallels between then and now. Voter turnout often surpassed 75%, political scandals were abundant, and odd third parties and flamboyant figures captured the public eye. The era has given Calhoun plenty to chew on, and the author, manifestly passionate about his niche, suggests that we are missing the implications of the historical drama. Unfortunately, by filling his book with a bewilderingly pedestrian barrage of facts, he fails to draw a persuasive parallel. Either too determined to be brief, or too loyal to his single-minded premise, Calhoun's summary of the era's politics is scholarly, complete, and bone dry. While its central impetus, the shifting balance between the influence on politics of moral issues and brute economics, is a worthy anchor point, the sheer stultifying force of endless dithering over tariffs, monetary policy, in-fighting, and partisan bickering is too strong. (Aug.)
Reviewed on: 10/18/2010
Release date: 08/01/2010
Genre: Nonfiction
Open Ebook - 224 pages - 978-1-4299-7970-2
Paperback - 210 pages - 978-0-8090-4794-9
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