Break It Up: Secession, Division, and the Secret History of America’s Imperfect Union

Richard Kreitner. Little, Brown, $30 (496p) ISBN 978-0-316-51060-8
The Nation contributor Kreitner (Booked) delivers an eye-opening chronicle of separatist movements within the U.S. Contending that the antagonisms of the Trump presidency are nothing new, Kreitner traces social divisions based on regional, racial, and cultural differences from the colonial era to the present day, and writes that the refusal to recognize this long-running pull toward breaking up the union “has been a major cause of our political dysfunction and social strife.” He counters the popular conception that 19th-century Southern slave owners were the nation’s only true secessionists by showing how a group of New Englanders, leery of trade restrictions and the inevitable conflict with Great Britain and Native Americans brought on by westward expansion, conspired to secede from the U.S. after the Louisiana Purchase, and profiles members of contemporary secessionist movements in Texas and California. Briskly documenting centuries of conflict, Kreitner makes a strong case that the impulse to dissolve the union will always resonate in such a vast and diverse nation. How much this actually matters, given the country’s long history of sticking together, is left up to the reader to decide. Still, this entertaining history provides plenty of food for thought. Agent: Elias Altman, Massie & McQuilkin Literary Agents. (Aug.)
Reviewed on : 05/01/2020
Release date: 05/12/2020
Genre: Nonfiction
Compact Disc - 978-1-5491-8944-9
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