Waking Giant is a brilliant, definitive history of America’s vibrant and tumultuous rise during the Jacksonian era from David S. Reynolds, the Bancroft Prize-winning author of Walt Whitman’s America. Casting fresh light on Andrew Jackson, who redefined the presidency, along with John Quincy Adams and James K. Polk, who expanded the nation’s territory and strengthened its position internationally, Reynolds captures the turbulence of a democracy caught in the throes of the controversy over slavery, the rise of capitalism, and the birth of urbanization.
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"A remarkable synthesis, impressive on many levels. . . . Reynolds applies his vast erudition to a period too often treated as mere prelude to the country's most destructive war. . . . A remarkable feat of distillation. . . . Reynolds is most adept handling the period's art and literature--he is remarkably clear-eyed about the Transcendentalists--and he brilliantly explores the religious scene's variety, tumult and frequent humbuggery. More than anything, he conveys the era's sheer weirdness."
-- Kirkus Reviews (starred review)
"Bancroft Prize winner Reynolds has produced a thorough chronicle of America from 1815 to 1848. . . . His book will appeal to general history buffs and American studies students. Highly recommended."
-- Library Journal
"In this fluid narrative, Reynolds recounts how politics, religion, art, literature, and economics jostled in forming a distinctively national American culture. . . . Exemplified by the intensification of feelings over slavery, the tensions in American society become vibrantly manifest in the eminent hands of Reynolds."
"Offers a fine addition to the literature on pre-Civil War American history in this account of the years 1815-1848. . . Even knowledgable readers will relish the chapters on social history. . . . Reynolds delivers a straightforward, insightful history of America during its bumptious adolescence."
-- Publishers Weekly
"A really good volume of history provides the reader with a keen sense of perspective and a genuine appreciation of the past. This is exactly what David S. Reynolds does in Waking Giant: America in the Age of Jackson, which authoritatively describes the early to middle part of the American 19th Century and makes clear how important this period was to the nation's growth in sociocultural, industrial and political terms....The marvel here is how Reynolds tackles textbook material with a great deal of stylish and involving writing."
America experienced unprecedented expansion and turmoil in the years between 1815 and 1848. In Waking Giant, Bancroft Prize-winning historian and literary critic David S. Reynolds illuminates the period's exciting political story as well as the fascinating social and cultural movements that influenced it. He casts fresh light on Andrew Jackson, who redefined the presidency, along with John Quincy Adams and James K. Polk, who expanded the nation's territory and strengthened its position internationally.
Waking Giant captures the turbulence of a democracy caught in the throes of the controversy over slavery, the rise of capitalism, and the birth of urbanization. Reynolds reveals unknown dimensions of the Second Great Awakening with its sects, cults, and self-styled prophets. He brings to life the reformers, abolitionists, and temperance advocates who struggled to correct America's worst social ills. He uncovers the political roots of some of America's greatest authors and artists, from Ralph Waldo Emerson and Edgar Allan Poe to Thomas Cole and Asher B. Durand, and he reveals the shocking phenomena that marked the age: bloody duels and violent mobs, P. T. Barnum's freaks and all-seeing mesmerists, polygamous prophets and wealthy prostitutes, table-lifting spiritualists and rabble-rousing feminists. All were crucial to the political and social ferment that led to the Civil War.
Meticulously researched and masterfully written, Waking Giant is a brilliant chronicle of America's vibrant and tumultuous rise.
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