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A Pulitzer Prize–winning historian’s provocative reinterpretation of the eight decades surrounding the Civil War (and leading into the twentieth century); the next volume in the Penguin History of the United States, edited by Eric Foner In this monumental story of American imperial conquest and capitalist development, Pulitzer Prize–winning historian Steven Hahn dism A Pulitzer Prize–winning historian’s provocative reinterpretation of the eight decades surrounding the Civil War (and leading into the twentieth century); the next volume in the Penguin History of the United States, edited by Eric Foner In this monumental story of American imperial conquest and capitalist development, Pulitzer Prize–winning historian Steven Hahn dismantles the conventional histories of the nineteenth century and offers a perspective that promises to be as enduring as it is controversial. It begins and ends in Mexico and, throughout, is internationalist in orientation. It challenges the political narrative of “sectionalism,” emphasizing the national footing of slavery and the struggle between the northeast and Mississippi Valley for continental supremacy. It places the Civil War in the context of many domestic rebellions against state authority, including those of Native Americans. It fully incorporates the trans-Mississippi west, suggesting the importance of the Pacific to the imperial vision of political leaders and of the west as a proving ground for later imperial projects overseas. It reconfigures the history of capitalism, insisting on the centrality of state formation and slave emancipation to its consolidation. And it identifies a sweeping era of “reconstructions” in the late-nineteenth and early twentieth centuries that simultaneously laid the foundations for corporate liberalism and social democracy.  The era from 1830 to 1910 witnessed massive transformations in how people lived, worked, thought about themselves, and struggled to thrive. It also witnessed the birth of economic and political institutions that still shape our world. From an agricultural society with a weak central government, the United States became an urban and industrial society in which government assumed a greater and greater role in the framing of social and economic life. As the book ends, the United States, now a global economic and political power, encounters massive warfare between imperial powers in Europe and a massive revolution on its southern border―the remarkable Mexican Revolution―which together brought the nineteenth century to a close while marking the important themes of the twentieth.


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A Pulitzer Prize–winning historian’s provocative reinterpretation of the eight decades surrounding the Civil War (and leading into the twentieth century); the next volume in the Penguin History of the United States, edited by Eric Foner In this monumental story of American imperial conquest and capitalist development, Pulitzer Prize–winning historian Steven Hahn dism A Pulitzer Prize–winning historian’s provocative reinterpretation of the eight decades surrounding the Civil War (and leading into the twentieth century); the next volume in the Penguin History of the United States, edited by Eric Foner In this monumental story of American imperial conquest and capitalist development, Pulitzer Prize–winning historian Steven Hahn dismantles the conventional histories of the nineteenth century and offers a perspective that promises to be as enduring as it is controversial. It begins and ends in Mexico and, throughout, is internationalist in orientation. It challenges the political narrative of “sectionalism,” emphasizing the national footing of slavery and the struggle between the northeast and Mississippi Valley for continental supremacy. It places the Civil War in the context of many domestic rebellions against state authority, including those of Native Americans. It fully incorporates the trans-Mississippi west, suggesting the importance of the Pacific to the imperial vision of political leaders and of the west as a proving ground for later imperial projects overseas. It reconfigures the history of capitalism, insisting on the centrality of state formation and slave emancipation to its consolidation. And it identifies a sweeping era of “reconstructions” in the late-nineteenth and early twentieth centuries that simultaneously laid the foundations for corporate liberalism and social democracy.  The era from 1830 to 1910 witnessed massive transformations in how people lived, worked, thought about themselves, and struggled to thrive. It also witnessed the birth of economic and political institutions that still shape our world. From an agricultural society with a weak central government, the United States became an urban and industrial society in which government assumed a greater and greater role in the framing of social and economic life. As the book ends, the United States, now a global economic and political power, encounters massive warfare between imperial powers in Europe and a massive revolution on its southern border―the remarkable Mexican Revolution―which together brought the nineteenth century to a close while marking the important themes of the twentieth.

30 review for A Nation Without Borders: The United States and Its World in an Age of Civil Wars, 1830-1910

  1. 4 out of 5

    Matt

    As Steven Hahn writes early in A Nation Without Borders, the general consensus regarding the course of American power is that America began as a nation immediately following her break with Great Britain. She only emerged as an empire near the end of the 19th century, following the outcome of the Spanish-American War. Hahn’s book offers a different view of American transformation, one that he argues convincingly. He believes that: [T]he model of governance inherited from the British was empire; th As Steven Hahn writes early in A Nation Without Borders, the general consensus regarding the course of American power is that America began as a nation immediately following her break with Great Britain. She only emerged as an empire near the end of the 19th century, following the outcome of the Spanish-American War. Hahn’s book offers a different view of American transformation, one that he argues convincingly. He believes that: [T]he model of governance inherited from the British was empire; that from the birth of the Republic the United States was a union with significant imperial ambitions on the continent and in the hemisphere, many pushed by slaveholders and their allies; that the United States only became a nation, a nation-state…in the midst of a massive political struggle in the 1860s; and that the new American nation reconfigured the character of its empire, first in the South and the trans-Mississippi West before reaching overseas. This seems a rather nuanced position for such a prodigious book. Heck, at first blush, it kind of sounds like the type of thing you'd overhear two political science undergrads arguing about while sipping craft beer at trendy new (but not too trendy) micro pub. And to be sure, A Nation Without Borders does not hail from the Everything You’ve Ever Learned About American History is Wrong school of thought. It is not written as a radical polemic, and does not ask you to trash all your cherished (or not so cherished) notions of America. But Hahn isn’t out to prove some arcane academic notion either. He is presenting a fascinating reinterpretation of America’s rise to worldwide eminence. This is a work of revision, not of the facts, but of what those facts mean. It is beyond clichéd at this point to say that understanding the past helps us reconcile the present. Indeed, I spent a good fifteen minutes just now trying to find a better way of stating the obvious. I can’t, and so we’re left with the trite but true. America today has a reach that extends into every corner of earth. There are consequences to that. We can’t fully appreciate those consequences - the reactions of the rest of the world, the reactions of left-behind Americans - unless we have a firm grasp of the context from which American might arose. The scope of Hahn’s book is massive. In 518 pages of text, it covers roughly 80 years of American history. A Nation Without Borders begins in Mexico in 1836, with Santa Anna leading an army meant to crush a rebellion in Coahuila y Tejas. This is fitting place to start, since America’s continental imperialism (Hahn views the acquisition of western territories as a form of colonialism) began on the borderland between Texas and Mexico. The book ends around the time of World War I, with Mexico once again dealing with a revolution, and the United States once again playing a key role. A lot happened between those two bookends. Indian tribes were dispossessed of their lands. Railroads were built. Slaves were freed and then de facto re-enslaved. Black people fought for their civil rights. Women fought for their civil rights. Corporations became people, and had to do very little fighting for civil rights. A continental empire became a Pacific empire (though not necessarily a pacific empire). Not only is this an eventful period, but it’s remarkably compressed. Someone born in 1830 might easily have lived long enough to remember the Alamo, the Civil War, the first flight of an airplane, and the First World War. This is clearly too much incident for any single volume to handle. Hahn’s solution is to break things down into a series of rebellions. The outcomes of these various insurgencies, Hahn writes, shaped the destiny of the United States. The most obvious and heavily covered is the rebellion of slaves verses slave-owners, culminating in the Civil War (which Hahn unnecessarily but consistently refers to as the War of the Rebellion). Other insurrections include the Indian tribes rebelling against the Federal Government, women rebelling against the patriarchy, and workers rebelling against their employers. By focusing on these discrete conflicts, he is better able to harness a huge amount of information and hone it into a coherent argument that is both readily graspable and a pleasure to read. Unsurprisingly, Hahn’s big centerpiece is the Civil War and Reconstruction. His handling of this well-covered era is emblematic of A Nation Without Borders as a whole. Instead of tackling the subject directly, by discussing the political breakdown between North and South, and then following the warring armies as they batter each other for four years, Hahn takes a different route altogether. He uses the Civil War to explain how America became a nation-state with centralized power. He does this by focusing a lot on the West, which had proved a bedeviling Gordian knot in antebellum America. Once the war began, and Southern opposition moved to an entirely different arena, Lincoln used his authority to carve out territories, pass a homestead law, introduce new states (beholden to the Republican Party), and lay railroad tracks to ensure that those new (and loyal) states and territories were connected to the rest of the country. Hahn’s oblique approach encompasses a diversity of viewpoints. A Nation Without Borders is often told from the perspective of marginalized groups. He is dedicated to treating these groups as active participants, with agency and ability to influence their own outcomes. You see this especially during the Reconstruction phase, where he spotlights activities within the black community itself, rather than simply pitting white Republicans against white Democrats, with blacks passively awaiting the outcome. It is important to state, if it hasn’t been clear thus far, that A Nation Without Borders is not a narrative history. It is not written in a novelistic style; it does not have big set pieces; it is not peppered with dynamic biographical sketches; it does not even hew to a rigid chronology. It is, instead, an interpretive history. Hahn is interested in the big social, economic, and political movements, and what those movements meant on a larger level. Hahn’s purpose dictates his writing style. He cannot, after all, rely on novelistic prose or gritty details when his view is much wider-angled. That does not mean A Nation Without Borders is a turgidly phrased academic treatise descended from some ivory tower where readable sentences go to die. Hahn writes fluidly and crisply, explaining his concepts in clear, unadorned language. He does a masterful job marshaling and organizing his research. This is no mean feat when your bibliography is over 50 pages long. I never got lost during A Nation Without Borders. I never finished a paragraph and scratched my chin wondering what the hell I’d just read. I moved through the text 50 pages at a time, which I consider a testament to Hahn’s abilities. (I never expected to be so engaged by the Greenback Movement. So color me surprised!). A Nation Without Borders is not a triumphalist history. Hahn delivers some harsh critiques, and some of this history is pretty glum. Yet Hahn is surprisingly optimistic in his epilogue: Six decades earlier [during the Civil War], the country had been unhinged by the largest of a series of rebellions, this by slaveholders who had ridden the cotton plant to enormous wealth... But in mobilizing to defeat the slaveholders’ challenge, the Republican state empowered new classes of industrialists and financiers and sought to extend its authority over the far reaches of American territory. Forcing the rebellious states to surrender, abolishing the slave property that had undergirded their power, enlisting slaves into the military, establishing birthright citizenship, and giving their party a basis in the South, the Republicans also proclaimed the sovereignty of a new nation-state…For a time, this social and political revolution moved further than anyone could have imagined in 1861, certainly further than any revolution of its time had moved. Former slaves were voting, holding office, and helping to create new polities and civil societies. Former slaveholders had been deprived of their most valuable property, weakened on the ground, and driven from effective national power. Petty producers were fighting to assert popular control over the greenback money supply, and skilled workers were fighting for an eight-hour day…A battle for the future of the nation was clearly being waged. The “battle for the future” did not end in 1910, of course. There would be fierce pushback against the strides that had been made; this pushback required further “rebellion”, engendering more backlash, in a seesaw struggle for progress that continues to this day. Hahn demonstrates that the road to American advancement – to the achievement of her stated aspirations – is not smooth, and not nearly complete. But the battle continues. (I received a copy of A Nation Without Borders from the publisher, in exchange for an honest review).

  2. 4 out of 5

    Juli

    A Nation Without Borders is the 3rd book in the Penguin History of the United States. There are five volumes in the series, which offer a comprehensive history of the United States from the colonial period to the 20th century. The series seeks to bring American History in a coherent and accessible form to the public. I love history. But I cannot tackle a book with so much information in its pages like I would a story or a work of fiction. I worked my way through this book from cover to cover ove A Nation Without Borders is the 3rd book in the Penguin History of the United States. There are five volumes in the series, which offer a comprehensive history of the United States from the colonial period to the 20th century. The series seeks to bring American History in a coherent and accessible form to the public. I love history. But I cannot tackle a book with so much information in its pages like I would a story or a work of fiction. I worked my way through this book from cover to cover over time, learning a little bit and then doing further reading on the people, events and places mentioned in the chapters. For me, it was a bit like a self study college course. I like how the 80 years covered by this book are presented with a more global and diverse attitude, rather than the limited manner American history was taught to be in school. This book goes much more in depth about the contributions to American history of Mexico, native tribes, slaves, women...and incorporates that information into the history as a whole rather than skimming over it only as a means to an end. The information is presented in a very readable way. While it is still possible to get bogged down in a 500-page comprehensive history of 8 decades, Steven Hahn did an excellent job of presenting the facts in a way that anyone can read and understand. It doesn't come off like a high-brow, stuffy scholarly regurgitation of facts, but an interesting overview of a very important time in the development of America. Now that I've read my way through the 3rd volume in the Penguin series on American History, I'd love to read the other four books! It will take me awhile to work my way through all of the information, but it will be time well spent. Steven Hahn is a Pulitzer Prize winning historian and author of A Nation Under Our Feet. **I won a copy of this book in a Goodreads Giveaway. While I appreciate the free book, the giveaway had no effect on the honesty of my review. All opinions expressed are entirely my own.**

  3. 4 out of 5

    Leo Walsh

    A NATION WITHOUT BORDERS by Steven Hahn is a well-written history. At first, based on the introduction, I thought the book would follow the path of Howard Zinn and turn American history on its ear. Which made me wary since, despite how much I loved A PEOPLE'S HISTORY OF THE UNITED STATES, I've recently read competent historians complain about his often inaccurate and always one-sided 're-interpretation' of American history. But it turns out that Hahn is a much better historian, and he merely re- A NATION WITHOUT BORDERS by Steven Hahn is a well-written history. At first, based on the introduction, I thought the book would follow the path of Howard Zinn and turn American history on its ear. Which made me wary since, despite how much I loved A PEOPLE'S HISTORY OF THE UNITED STATES, I've recently read competent historians complain about his often inaccurate and always one-sided 're-interpretation' of American history. But it turns out that Hahn is a much better historian, and he merely re-interprets the historical record, utilizing the vast majority of the historical record that does not support a single view-point. To me, the major points of he revisions are straight-forward. 1) Slave-holding cotton plantation owners were both economically central to American prosperity, and yet desperate to maintain their way of life at the beginning of the period surveyed. These "southern gentlemen" saw their livelihoods at risk, with public opinion tilting sharply against slavery. They saw the election of Lincoln as the last straw. Funny thing is, I detected a bit of the conspiritorial, paranoid style behind their irrational belief that "Lincoln was out to get them" that echos the lunacy that sprung up around, say, Jade Helm 15. Where the US military was allegedly supposed to... invade Texas and the southwest? To... take their guns? 2. To protect their power, and reduce the influence of the growing industrial north, "southern gentlemen" wanted to create an expanded American empire of slave-holding states. Shocked and scared by slave uprisings, especially in Haiti, they wanted to expand the reach of America into other plantations cultures in Latin America. They had their sites on Cuba, Puerto Rico, and Mexico, whom they saw as a special threat since the nation had outlaws slavery in the 1810s. 3. Hahn refers to the Civil War with the more-accuracte name, "The Slave-Holder's War of Rebellion." I like this, because it does highlight what really drove the conflict. It wasn't about rural versus urban. It wasn't "southern gentlemen" fighting for a "southern way of life" — drinking mint juleps and sipping lemonade on the front porch, waiting for a hog to smoke so they could share a barbeque. Instead, the southern plantation owners revolted to protect their economic interests. 4. Hahn shifts focus from the east-coast to the interior. As a denizen of "fly-over America," I love this shift. And it is more honest since most of Americans did not inhabit New York, Boston, Atlanta or Charleston. Even in 1860, 90% of Americans were rural. Indeed, even America's early phases of industrialization were rural. 5. The genocide and forced relocation of Native Americans is contextualized, and the American Empire ends up looking petty. This post War of Rebellion material is good but given too little weight in the text. This leads me to suspect that perhaps he should have written two books: 1830 through Reconsctruction, and then another focusing on America's westward expansion. All told, an excellent history book. Well-written, measured, it studies the lives of Americans as the nation evolved from a slave-holding state into the more progressive nation-state we inhabit today. And it tells the story, showing warts and ll. Four-stars because, as a survey with no primary focus, it often skims lightly across too many things.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Roger

    First off, if you read this book know what the word "liminal" means. It is used often, and is central to Hahn's vision. A NATION WITHOUT BORDERS is a useful corrective to traditional histories of the United States. In blueprint, the focus isn't on the east coast, or simply powerful white men, as new voices are added to the American story. Hahn pays attention to the west, to working men and women--in the cities and on the farms, to African Americans and to native tribes throughout the United State First off, if you read this book know what the word "liminal" means. It is used often, and is central to Hahn's vision. A NATION WITHOUT BORDERS is a useful corrective to traditional histories of the United States. In blueprint, the focus isn't on the east coast, or simply powerful white men, as new voices are added to the American story. Hahn pays attention to the west, to working men and women--in the cities and on the farms, to African Americans and to native tribes throughout the United States. He writes of Mexico in the context of its influence on the developing American nation, not simply falling back on the old standard of describing what Americans did to Mexico. Hahn writes of socialists, reformers, and labor organizers. All this is good. Even his time frame is useful, since the American story doesn't conveniently follow the chronology of the 19th century. Nor is it a pithy two-part story, with part one ending in 1865 (or 1877). Hahn's language is often corrective as well, as it is when he dismisses the term "Civil War", in favor of the paradigmatically more accurate "War of Rebellion". A NATION WITHOUT BORDERS is part of the Penquin History of the United States series, edited by Eric Foner. As a survey it cannot cover everything, nor go into depth on everything it does cover. Yet, there are some salient problems in this book's coverage and analysis. The military history is usually simplistic, especially in its re-telling of the Mexican-American War, the discussion of African-American soldiers in the War of Rebellion, and in the all-too-brief mention of Alfred Thayer Mahan's influence (to be fair--the analysis of the post-1865 debates about professional military forces is better). Hahn wants to create a focus on the west, but at times he does not seem to appreciate the unique traits of the evolving American west. For example, you cannot understand Ohio, the first "American-made" state, without understanding the significance of squatters in developing a sui generis personality, both in the move toward statehood and in the decades after. This issue is not mentioned in A NATION WITHOUT BORDERS. Also, the site of the largest mass execution in American history, Mankato, Minnesota, is misspelled. These are not huge issues, but they do indicate that the focus on the west is artifice at its heart, something worth mentioning but not worth deep study. The hold of the East Coast bias on academia is extraordinarily strong. Finally, this is not a bad book, it is a good book. And, it does usefully correct some traditional biases in the telling of the American story. The above comments are minor in the face of a tremendous analytical achievement. But it could have been so much more. This is a long book, densely written, trappings exacerbated by tiny print. So while I think this is a story that should be read by many people outside of academia, I don't see that happening.

  5. 4 out of 5

    James

    This is stunning. Like he writes, it is a familiar story told in an unfamiliar way.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Mark Weaver

    This book covers American history from the Jacksonian Era to beginning of World War I (approximately 1830s-1910s). I found it disappointing compared to Alan Taylor’s excellent “American Colonies” which is also part of the Penguin history of the United States. Similar to Taylor, Hahn attempts to follow historiographical trends to make it a more “Atlantic” history by weaving in Mexico and larger historical forces, although it doesn’t work quite as well given the time period. The selection of perio This book covers American history from the Jacksonian Era to beginning of World War I (approximately 1830s-1910s). I found it disappointing compared to Alan Taylor’s excellent “American Colonies” which is also part of the Penguin history of the United States. Similar to Taylor, Hahn attempts to follow historiographical trends to make it a more “Atlantic” history by weaving in Mexico and larger historical forces, although it doesn’t work quite as well given the time period. The selection of period is unique given that the Civil War serves as the middle of the book rather than an ending or beginning. However, I think this harms his treatment of the war. It doesn’t help that Hahn unnecessarily refers to it as the “War of the Rebellion” throughout the book, which ends up being distracting despite his intent to reframe the war. I was genuinely interested in his treatment of the West and he explores labor history and the development of capitalism quite well. He covers race from many different angles, but I found his coverage of women’s history to be inserted rather than integrated into the narrative. If you aren’t already familiar with the era(s), this book can be difficult to follow and it doesn’t include key topics or events. While I find it useful to refocus historical study away from purely political and military history, in this type of a comprehensive text I think it does a disservice to the reader. The military history of the Civil War is almost non-existent (as Hahn recognizes). It is also a shame that there is almost no mention of environmental history in an era where national parks are developing and the Conservation versus Preservation debate gets under way. If you are interested in history, I think that Hahn does a good job of exploring certain topics and he has some unique interpretations. If you do not know as much about the topics ahead of time, it’s hard to know what Hahn is choosing to leave leave out.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Sam Reaves

    Most history is partisan. I don't believe that objectivity is impossible, but people are always going to argue about it. Historians bring assumptions to their work, and those govern everything from the overall thesis to the choice of data. So I think the best approach is to recognize partisan leanings and allow for them; you can always learn something, even from a historian whose politics you don't agree with. I'm a big fan, for example, of Paul Johnson's Modern Times, which has a decidedly cons Most history is partisan. I don't believe that objectivity is impossible, but people are always going to argue about it. Historians bring assumptions to their work, and those govern everything from the overall thesis to the choice of data. So I think the best approach is to recognize partisan leanings and allow for them; you can always learn something, even from a historian whose politics you don't agree with. I'm a big fan, for example, of Paul Johnson's Modern Times, which has a decidedly conservative point of view, and I've argued that it's a valuable (and absolutely gripping) account of twentieth-century history that even liberals should take note of. On the other side, Steven Hahn's A Nation Without Borders is a look at the United States in the nineteenth century with a distinctly left-of-center approach. Hahn is a skeptic of capitalism, as you might suspect when you see that the first author cited in his bibliography is the Marxist historian Eric Hobsbawm, and that skepticism pervades the book. Well and good; nothing is beyond criticism, least of all the juggernaut of white settlement and development that rumbled westward over the course of the nineteenth century, crushing Native American cultures and irrevocably altering the landscape. As a corrective to a sanitized and simplified glorification of How the West Was Won, the book does a valuable service. From the Mexican War to the Philippine Insurrection, by way of a sabotaged Reconstruction and Jim Crow, there is much that is discreditable in U.S. history, and it is entirely right to confront it. Hahn's main thesis is that from the start the development of the United States was driven by a desire for empire on the old British model. He stresses the place of the young United States in the global economy, oriented not only toward the Atlantic but also the Pacific. He criticizes a simplistic view that slavery existed only in the South and that the Civil War should be seen exclusively as a moral or regional conflict, examining the complicated strands of abolitionism and the slave and non-slave economies. And he recounts the emergence of corporate capitalism and the struggles with labor that ensued. All of this is richly detailed and highly informative. And even if you're less inclined to fret about capitalism than Hahn is, you will learn a great deal. My principal complaint about the book is not its slant but rather its language; Hahn is a little too fond of jargon like "gender exclusions" and "suppressing Indian counter-sovereignties" that clogs the narrative and strives to be both academic and scrupulously woke. A more straightforward style would make it a better read and be less inclined to turn off readers who might benefit from its skeptical eye on American history.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Andrew Washburn

    This history surveys the American economic and extra-national political veins of the 19th century. Topics of discussion are working conditions, minority rights, the consolidation of the Union, rise of the Republican party, takeover of politics by Capitalism, inequality, technological progress, and the rise and fall of Black political rights. This book bluntly acknowledges the vast existing literature about the Civil War, and clearly avoids any detailed retelling of it by labeling it "the War of This history surveys the American economic and extra-national political veins of the 19th century. Topics of discussion are working conditions, minority rights, the consolidation of the Union, rise of the Republican party, takeover of politics by Capitalism, inequality, technological progress, and the rise and fall of Black political rights. This book bluntly acknowledges the vast existing literature about the Civil War, and clearly avoids any detailed retelling of it by labeling it "the War of the Rebellion." The Civil War is juxtaposed against other smaller rebellions in the century, such as worker's strikes in the 1870's. The War is also given credit for mobilizing capitalist forces in the North and Trans-Mississippi West, transforming the Republican party from radical abolitionists into the corrupt bureaucratic institution which facilitated Industrial Capitalism and increasing inequality. What I learned most is how powerful the Black caucus became in Reconstrution Era South. Transforming the Black majority into a political minority via Jim Crow laws is another tragic episode in American history. Ironically, segregation and suppression of individual rights were seen as necessary transformations in an increasingly mobile, industrial, and impersonal society. An example of this new society is the protectorate of Panama established to build the Canal. Men labored heavily under government appointed authoritarian leadership. Blacks were paid in silver, whereas White technicians earned more stable gold-specie salaries. When the United States emerged on the vast American continent at the dawn of World War One, it was hardly recognizable from the agrarian paradise Thomas Jefferson imagined for the Democratic-Republican party he built the century prior. Political tensions, institutions, and policies which originated in the 19th century still haunt and dominate the political questions we try to answer today.

  9. 4 out of 5

    C. Janelle

    I might have gotten more out of this one had I spent more time with the physical book rather than the audio (in which the narrator pronounced "antebellum" as "ant-eye-bellum" for the first 11 chapters and used sometimes unsettling accents) and if I had made a timeline and running list of characters, but even without those, I think I have a much better sense of the rhetoric and forces that shaped the US during the 19th century and how remarkable and almost accidental the stability of the 20th cen I might have gotten more out of this one had I spent more time with the physical book rather than the audio (in which the narrator pronounced "antebellum" as "ant-eye-bellum" for the first 11 chapters and used sometimes unsettling accents) and if I had made a timeline and running list of characters, but even without those, I think I have a much better sense of the rhetoric and forces that shaped the US during the 19th century and how remarkable and almost accidental the stability of the 20th century was. Of particular note is how adept the powerful/wealthy are at intentionally fooling the population that their needs are one and the same. I also learned that corporate personhood began in the 19th c. with the active assistance of a SCOTUS that was hesitant (at best) about the personhood of actual persons who weren't white and male, how easy it is for a popular movement to get derailed by infighting, and how cobbled together our financial system is. I was hoping for some greater insights into the current climate in the US, and I did get some of those but unfortunately no ideas for how to proceed wisely (just lots of lessons on what not to do).

  10. 4 out of 5

    Tdr85

    It's a terrific book. My only problem is that a survey history like this is going to leave too much out. But it gets to the essence of the different eras and offers new perspective. I've read histories of the Antebellum and Civil war eras and a couple of biographies that deal with reconstruction and progressive America but a single book taking this all on is asking alot of the author. But he does the job and he does it well. I thought the one thing that was lacking was more detail of federal pol It's a terrific book. My only problem is that a survey history like this is going to leave too much out. But it gets to the essence of the different eras and offers new perspective. I've read histories of the Antebellum and Civil war eras and a couple of biographies that deal with reconstruction and progressive America but a single book taking this all on is asking alot of the author. But he does the job and he does it well. I thought the one thing that was lacking was more detail of federal politics. He gives considerable attention to the victims of 19th century America - African-americans, indigenous peoples, Mexicans and their heroic attempts to make a place for themselves in a world that for the most part only recognized white males. The thrust of the book is that America was building an empire during this period, one that brooked no opposition. There were noble moments but alot of less noble ones as well. He spends time in the latter parts of the book discussing the labor movement and its difficulty with gilded age capitalism.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Joe

    This was a good, but not a great book describing the development on the US into Nation State from about 1830 through the early 20th Century. It presents a unique description of the growth of the US in the context of the world history. The first half of the book ... through Reconstruction ... was great. However, I thought that the last three chapters were a hodge pudge of facts and detailed descriptions of relatively minor characters thrown together to complete the end of the 19th Century. It bec This was a good, but not a great book describing the development on the US into Nation State from about 1830 through the early 20th Century. It presents a unique description of the growth of the US in the context of the world history. The first half of the book ... through Reconstruction ... was great. However, I thought that the last three chapters were a hodge pudge of facts and detailed descriptions of relatively minor characters thrown together to complete the end of the 19th Century. It became very tedious. I believe that, if Hahn should have limited the book to 1830 to 1880, it would have been a far better treatise. .

  12. 4 out of 5

    Michael

    Very impressive accounting of such amazing times in our country's history. The author has done an amazing job of presenting this history in such enlightening way. So much information that was new to me. Enjoyed very much. I highly recommend for fans of US History. I won this book in a GoodReads giveaway. Very impressive accounting of such amazing times in our country's history. The author has done an amazing job of presenting this history in such enlightening way. So much information that was new to me. Enjoyed very much. I highly recommend for fans of US History. I won this book in a GoodReads giveaway.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Ryan Fischer

    Hahn's interpretive framework steamrolls through narrative clarity at times - I'm not sure this book would work at all for someone unfamiliar with the period. But, I did find that interpretive framework compelling most of the time, and I did gain some new perspectives along the way. It's fascinating how different this reads from Richard White's recent survey of Reconstruction and the Gilded Age. Hahn's interpretive framework steamrolls through narrative clarity at times - I'm not sure this book would work at all for someone unfamiliar with the period. But, I did find that interpretive framework compelling most of the time, and I did gain some new perspectives along the way. It's fascinating how different this reads from Richard White's recent survey of Reconstruction and the Gilded Age.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Matthew Rohn

    Great synthetic work. If you're an American history person with a focus in this era it helps put a lot of things in grand context. If you're not an American history person or if you have a large blindspot about the late 19th century this is one of the most useful single books you could read. Would happily teach from this book in a survey course on American history Great synthetic work. If you're an American history person with a focus in this era it helps put a lot of things in grand context. If you're not an American history person or if you have a large blindspot about the late 19th century this is one of the most useful single books you could read. Would happily teach from this book in a survey course on American history

  15. 4 out of 5

    Steve Hawkins

    Sweeping history os USA in 19th. Entury Great summary of slavery and its demise and lays groundwork of why USA became superpower in following century. Last chapter I’m Mexico revolution seems out of place.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Caleb Lagerwey

    This was a nice, refreshing take on familiar periods of US History. Hahn does a great job of keeping his story moving thematically while providing detailed connections between geographical and ideological trends in US History.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Praveen Kishore

    A panoramic and insightful history of nineteenth century America, a masterly and breathtaking account of social, political and economic changes in America. A sweeping yet nuanced history of America, from 'Empire and Union' to 'Nation and Empire' as conceptualized by the author. A panoramic and insightful history of nineteenth century America, a masterly and breathtaking account of social, political and economic changes in America. A sweeping yet nuanced history of America, from 'Empire and Union' to 'Nation and Empire' as conceptualized by the author.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Emily

    An overview that is useful for getting your bearings in the political scene during the Civil War era, which is often extremely convoluted by those "in-the-know." Cons: Lots of conjecture; terrible punctuation. An overview that is useful for getting your bearings in the political scene during the Civil War era, which is often extremely convoluted by those "in-the-know." Cons: Lots of conjecture; terrible punctuation.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Kevin Zwiefelhofer

    It was okay, I enjoyed some different perspectives of the time period but I struggled to finish.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Bob

    A much different survey of 19th Century America, Hahn looks at much different figures and themes than most other historians do. This is much more of a social than political history.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Jared Ross

    Very thorough focused political history of the United States from the 1830s through to the Civil War with a little wave at Reconstruction and the beginnings of American hegemony in the 20th century.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Miroku Nemeth

    Masterful study on the time period.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Ian

    Neoliberal view of history. Author writes like a Fed

  24. 4 out of 5

    Derrick Rowe

    A Nation Without Borders, examines the American expansionist era from 1830 to 1910. This era saw the rise of the United States as a world power and its expansion, first across the continent of North America, to become a global maritime empire with colonial outposts in the Philippines and in the Gulf of Mexico with client states in Central and South America. This work is a revisionist work of American history though it should not be seen as the work that fundamentally throws out previous narrativ A Nation Without Borders, examines the American expansionist era from 1830 to 1910. This era saw the rise of the United States as a world power and its expansion, first across the continent of North America, to become a global maritime empire with colonial outposts in the Philippines and in the Gulf of Mexico with client states in Central and South America. This work is a revisionist work of American history though it should not be seen as the work that fundamentally throws out previous narratives about the history of the United States. Rather, this work seeks to contextualize the American past by re-examining the past and centering the narrative on the central sections of the nation as well as the imperial ambitions of the southern slaveholding elites. The emphasis placed on the centrality of the slaveholding elites and their imperial ambitions is probably the most notable and most useful part of this work. Hahn demonstrates that a great deal of expansion was driven by the fears of the plantation aristocracy of the South of being eclipsed by the growing industrial, financial, and population of the North leading to imperialistic wars of conquest against Mexico as well as attempts to expand further south to form a new slavery empire. This work also contextualizes and further reinforces the new narratives coming out about American settler colonialist expansion and the desire to drive out Native Americans to ensure a white man’s nation. For those who are interested in the expansion of the United States as well as a broader view of the nation this work is an excellent addition to read.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Brandon Westlake

    This book was given to me in a Goodreads Giveaway. The book is comprehensive. That is both good and bad. Good if you want a detailed argument that ties a lot together through US history. The bad is that I feel at some points, it's hard to see the forest through the trees. The story is great, but at times it's not bad to skim and you certainly won't feel like you cheated yourself. It also does a great job of looking at the era from the in vogue lens of globalization This book was given to me in a Goodreads Giveaway. The book is comprehensive. That is both good and bad. Good if you want a detailed argument that ties a lot together through US history. The bad is that I feel at some points, it's hard to see the forest through the trees. The story is great, but at times it's not bad to skim and you certainly won't feel like you cheated yourself. It also does a great job of looking at the era from the in vogue lens of globalization

  26. 5 out of 5

    Stephanie

    The author does a good job explaining history from 1830-1910. It's well explained through different perspectives and expands through the topics as a whole. Really informative and a great book for people who'd love to learn more about history. Received a copy through goodreads giveaway The author does a good job explaining history from 1830-1910. It's well explained through different perspectives and expands through the topics as a whole. Really informative and a great book for people who'd love to learn more about history. Received a copy through goodreads giveaway

  27. 5 out of 5

    Dean

    Not usually a fan of survey history books that cover a period of time. This series of books on American History and this latest installment is the exception. This book covers 19th century American History and does it well.

  28. 5 out of 5

    involution

    If A Nation Under Our Feet was Hahn's attempt at E. P. Thompson, then this is his attempt at Hobsbawm — a lumbering epic of contested state-formation and capitalist consolidation, instead of a granular narrative of moral economy and painstakingly organized resistance. If A Nation Under Our Feet was Hahn's attempt at E. P. Thompson, then this is his attempt at Hobsbawm — a lumbering epic of contested state-formation and capitalist consolidation, instead of a granular narrative of moral economy and painstakingly organized resistance.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Sherry Abrams

    Still have not received book!

  30. 5 out of 5

    Lane Ward

    excellent, different perspective

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