Ecstatic Nation Pdf Summary Reviews By Brenda Wineapple

Ecstatic Nation Pdf Summary

Dazzling in scope, Ecstatic Nation illuminates one of the most dramatic and momentous chapters in America’s past, when the country dreamed big, craved new lands and new freedom, and was bitterly divided over its great moral wrong: slavery.
With a canvas of extraordinary characters, such as P. T. Barnum, Walt Whitman, Frederick Douglass, and L. C. Q. Lamar, Ecstatic Nation brilliantly balances cultural and political history: It’s a riveting account of the sectional conflict that preceded the Civil War, and it astutely chronicles the complex aftermath of that war and Reconstruction, including the promise that women would share in a new definition of American citizenship. It takes us from photographic surveys of the Sierra Nevadas to the discovery of gold in the South Dakota hills, and it signals the painful, thrilling birth of modern America.

An epic tale by award-winning author Brenda Wineapple, Ecstatic Nation lyrically and with true originality captures the optimism, the failures, and the tragic exuberance of a renewed Republic. 


Ecstatic Nation: Confidence, Crisis, and Compromise, 1848-1877 (American History) Book Review

Robert J. Crawford

4.0 out of 5 stars Popular Kulturgeschichte of Civl War Era
Reviewed in the United States 🇺🇸 on February 25, 2017

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Rather than a straight political or military history, this book examines the period from its culture and literary voices, as embedded in the political context. There are innumerable thumbnail biographies ranging from the major players to ordinary people, all of them vivid and illustrative of the “ideas in the air.” It makes for very fun reading from a personal perspective. If you want a textbook history, this is not the place.

The central idea in my reading is that the United States was warped by its inability to deal with the slavery issue. Something would have to break the logjam, because continuation of the status quo was impossible in perpetuity, yet the democratic institutions proved utterly incapable of doing so beyond the tactical compromises that were endlessly reiterated. Both sides felt that God was on their side, hence tended to murderous righteousness. Interestingly, the book begins with the death of the crusty John Quincy Adams, who had long argued that the conflict would only be resolved in blood.

What is so fun about this book is that it presents the points of view of those alive at the time, from self-deluding southerners who are convinced that slavery is best for the slaves to nuttily idealistic abolitionists leading suicidal crusades. I really got a sense of what it might have been like to experience it all first hand. Nonetheless, Wineapple recapitulates the main events in brilliant bursts, so the book serves as a splendid review of the well known facts, such as what happened at Bull Run and what it portended, but from a gimlet eye.

The book spans the entire period from 1848 to 1877, when the Civil War gestated to its execution and catastrophically botched aftermath, the Reconstruction that resulted in Jim Crow. It was an exuberant time, the US was beginning to feel its oats with new prosperity and confidence. Nonetheless, for the next century, the old elite in the South was permitted to do as it had wished. The slaves might have gotten their freedom, but they remained under the most brutal racist oppression. It was painful to read about this the way it unfolded, an injustice so horrible that it invalidates our self-serving American ideals about our exceptionalism and the inherent quality of our institutions – if anything ever could. Also covered are the imperial ambitions over Cuba and elsewhere, California surveyors gone insane, just to name a few of the stories. A number of individuals figure largely, from Jefferson Davis and Lincoln to Custer and PT Barnum. I learned of a huge number of pivotal figures, sech as Lydia Maria Child, the Beechers, Thoreau, Walt Whitman. I would like to read much more about them, a sure sign of the book’s success.

If I have a criticism of the book, it is that it does not develop a point of view, some new argument or thesis. Instead, it treads a familiar path, just with more personal detail. In addition, from my obsession with the period, I feel there were many things that were not sufficiently covered. For example, the war did away with the facile certainties of our fundamentalist religions as a way of life for the majority, giving rise to pragmatism and its acceptance of multiple layers of truth as a modus operandi. The meaning of the 1848 revolutions – and the fear of fragmentation and chaos that motivated Lincoln and others to fight to preserve the Union – also receives light treatment.
Recommended warmly as a very fun reading experience.

C. M Mills

4.0 out of 5 stars Ecstatic Nation is a first class historical survey of America from 1848 to 1877 by a distinguished scholar
Reviewed in the United States 🇺🇸 on August 21, 2013

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“Ecstatic Nation” by Dr. Brenda Applegate of New York City (she is the author of such outstanding biographies as those focusing on Emily Dickinson; Gertrude Stein; James R. Lowell and Nathaniel Hawthorne)is an eloquent and impressionistic study of the United States of America. The span of time covered is from 1848 (the year of revolution in Europe) and prewar debates over slavery to 1877 and the end of Southern States Reconstruction culminating in the election of Rutherford B. Hayes as the nation’s nineteenth chief executive. Hayes pulled Federal troops out of the South as redeemer governments took control of the South.
The title of the book is culled from poetic lines culled from Emily Dickinson: “A single Continent where One-is the Population/ Numerous enough/the ecstatic nation.” The book begins with the death of John Quincy Adams the sixth president and a stalwart defender of freedom for chattel slaves. Wineapple then covers such congressional wrangles over slavery as The Compromise of 1850 and the Kansas-Nebraska Act of 1854 engineered by Stephen A. Douglas the Senator from Illinois. We move to John Brown’s raid on Harper’s Ferry in 1859 in an abortive attempt to free slaves and the beginning of the Civil War with the firing on Ft. Sumter in April 1861 in Charleston Harbor. After vivid scenes of Civil War slaughter and medical care the author moves to the dark and bloody days of reconstruction. This era ends with Hayes election. The funeral of Nathan Bedford Forrest the “Wizard of the Saddle” and founder of the Ku Klux Klan is a symbolic end to this horrible time in our nation’s odyssey. Wineapple notes that over 750,000 people died in the Civil War..
Wineapple is much more than a military-political historian as she examines under her microscope of prose the Women’s movement as well as the travails and mistreatment of African-Americans and Native Americans. This material makes sad reading.
The cast is vast, colorful, profane and pious! Abraham Lincoln the Great Emancipator dominates the proceedings. Yet the author also gives us insights into such crucial figures as Fredrick Douglass; Robert E. Lee’; Jefferson Davis and U.S. Grant whose generalship and presidency are covered in concise but interesting detail. Authors are also featured from Hawthorne, Melville, Thoreau, Emily Dickinson and Louise May Alcott and the James family in New England to such Western authors as Mark Twain and Bret Hart. We are introduced to Walt Whitman and savor in his “Leaves of Grass”.
the book is eminently quotable. A sampling:
“…the great white whale that…Captain Ahab pursues round the globe…is a riotous examination of human knowledge…”-p. 45
“After his death it was said that Phineas Taylor Barnum was more alive than anyone still living.”-p. 77
On the Union and Confederacy: “Both sides saw their sides as representing self-governmental freedom.”-p. 137
“Andrew Johnson of Tennessee…opposed secession.”-p. 179.
“pictures…rendered visible a war taking place in one’s own country.”-p. 124
“After the three day carnage at Gettysburg, horses lay distended on the broad fields, and unrecognizable bodies putrefied in the summer sun.”-p. 273
“…you can no more make a slave out of a soldier than you can replace a bird in the egg.”-p. 358
“The Ku Klux Klan also killed hundreds of black men and women in Louisiana and Georgia.”-pp. 446-447
“What is the chief end of man?” asked Mark Twain in 1871. “To get rich…”-p. 476
“Despite his reputation as a butcher, President Grant had little taste for killing and less for extermination.”-p. 542. The quote refers to Grant’s views on Native Americans.
The book is an excellent resource for those new to nineteenth century and Civil War studies as well as those who know a good deal but want to learn more about this crucial time. Brenda Wineapple makes history come alive in a lively writing style which has won her excellent reviews for this fine work. Recommended!

About Brenda Wineapple Author Of Ecstatic Nation pdf Book

Brenda Wineapple
Brenda Wineapple

Brenda Wineapple is the author of the award-winning Hawthorne: A Life, Genêt: A Biography of Janet Flanner, and Sister Brother: Gertrude and Leo Stein. Her essays, articles, and reviews have appeared in many publications, among them The American Scholar, The New York Times Book Review, Parnassus, Poetry, and The Nation. A Guggenheim fellow, a fellow of the American Council of Learned Societies, and twice of the National Endowment for the Humanities, she teaches in the MFA programs at Columbia University and The New School and lives in New York City.

Ecstatic Nation pdf, Paperback, Hardcover Book Information

Ecstatic Nation pdf book
Ecstatic Nation pdf book
  • Publisher ‏ : ‎ Harper Perennial; Reprint edition (August 5, 2014)
  • Language ‏ : ‎ English
  • Paperback ‏ : ‎ 736 pages
  • ISBN-10 ‏ : ‎ 0061234583
  • ISBN-13 ‏ : ‎ 978-0061234583
  • Item Weight ‏ : ‎ 1.2 pounds
  • Dimensions ‏ : ‎ 5.31 x 1.18 x 8 inches
  • Best Sellers Rank: #1,258,694 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
  • #429 in Slavery & Emancipation History
  • #2,019 in World War I History (Books)
  • #4,128 in U.S. Civil War History
  • Customer Reviews: 4.5 out of 5 stars    97 ratings

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