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While the North prevailed in the Civil War, ending slavery and giving the country a "new birth of freedom," Heather Cox Richardson argues in this provocative work that democracy's blood-soaked victory was ephemeral. The system that had sustained the defeated South moved westward and there established a foothold. It was a natural fit. Settlers from the East had for decades While the North prevailed in the Civil War, ending slavery and giving the country a "new birth of freedom," Heather Cox Richardson argues in this provocative work that democracy's blood-soaked victory was ephemeral. The system that had sustained the defeated South moved westward and there established a foothold. It was a natural fit. Settlers from the East had for decades been pushing into the West, where the seizure of Mexican lands at the end of the Mexican-American War and treatment of Native Americans cemented racial hierarchies. The South and West equally depended on extractive industries-cotton in the former and mining, cattle, and oil in the latter-giving rise a new birth of white male oligarchy, despite the guarantees provided by the 13th, 14th, and 15th Amendments, and the economic opportunities afforded by expansion. To reveal why this happened, How the South Won the Civil War traces the story of the American paradox, the competing claims of equality and subordination woven into the nation's fabric and identity. At the nation's founding, it was the Eastern "yeoman farmer" who galvanized and symbolized the American Revolution. After the Civil War, that mantle was assumed by the Western cowboy, singlehandedly defending his land against barbarians and savages as well as from a rapacious government. New states entered the Union in the late nineteenth century and western and southern leaders found yet more common ground. As resources and people streamed into the West during the New Deal and World War II, the region's influence grew. "Movement Conservatives," led by westerners Barry Goldwater, Richard Nixon, and Ronald Reagan, claimed to embody cowboy individualism and worked with Dixiecrats to embrace the ideology of the Confederacy. Richardson's searing book seizes upon the soul of the country and its ongoing struggle to provide equal opportunity to all. Debunking the myth that the Civil War released the nation from the grip of oligarchy, expunging the sins of the Founding, it reveals how and why the Old South not only survived in the West, but thrived.


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While the North prevailed in the Civil War, ending slavery and giving the country a "new birth of freedom," Heather Cox Richardson argues in this provocative work that democracy's blood-soaked victory was ephemeral. The system that had sustained the defeated South moved westward and there established a foothold. It was a natural fit. Settlers from the East had for decades While the North prevailed in the Civil War, ending slavery and giving the country a "new birth of freedom," Heather Cox Richardson argues in this provocative work that democracy's blood-soaked victory was ephemeral. The system that had sustained the defeated South moved westward and there established a foothold. It was a natural fit. Settlers from the East had for decades been pushing into the West, where the seizure of Mexican lands at the end of the Mexican-American War and treatment of Native Americans cemented racial hierarchies. The South and West equally depended on extractive industries-cotton in the former and mining, cattle, and oil in the latter-giving rise a new birth of white male oligarchy, despite the guarantees provided by the 13th, 14th, and 15th Amendments, and the economic opportunities afforded by expansion. To reveal why this happened, How the South Won the Civil War traces the story of the American paradox, the competing claims of equality and subordination woven into the nation's fabric and identity. At the nation's founding, it was the Eastern "yeoman farmer" who galvanized and symbolized the American Revolution. After the Civil War, that mantle was assumed by the Western cowboy, singlehandedly defending his land against barbarians and savages as well as from a rapacious government. New states entered the Union in the late nineteenth century and western and southern leaders found yet more common ground. As resources and people streamed into the West during the New Deal and World War II, the region's influence grew. "Movement Conservatives," led by westerners Barry Goldwater, Richard Nixon, and Ronald Reagan, claimed to embody cowboy individualism and worked with Dixiecrats to embrace the ideology of the Confederacy. Richardson's searing book seizes upon the soul of the country and its ongoing struggle to provide equal opportunity to all. Debunking the myth that the Civil War released the nation from the grip of oligarchy, expunging the sins of the Founding, it reveals how and why the Old South not only survived in the West, but thrived.

30 review for How the South Won the Civil War: Oligarchy, Democracy, and the Continuing Fight for the Soul of America

  1. 5 out of 5

    Ryan Boissonneault

    Oligarchic ideology based on racism and sexism runs deep in the intellectual history of the United States. As American historian and professor Heather Cox Richardson demonstrates, the battle between oligarchy and democracy did not end with the Civil War—in terms of the battle of ideas, the oligarchic South actually won. The story begins with the US founders. For all their virtuous qualities, they couldn’t seem to fully transcend the biases of the times, supporting in various degrees the ideas of Oligarchic ideology based on racism and sexism runs deep in the intellectual history of the United States. As American historian and professor Heather Cox Richardson demonstrates, the battle between oligarchy and democracy did not end with the Civil War—in terms of the battle of ideas, the oligarchic South actually won. The story begins with the US founders. For all their virtuous qualities, they couldn’t seem to fully transcend the biases of the times, supporting in various degrees the ideas of white supremacy, sexism, slavery, and divinely-inspired class hierarchies and concentrations of wealth and power (perhaps with the exception of Thomas Paine). Despite the rhetoric of equality found in The Declaration of Independence, once independence was won, inequality was swiftly built into the Constitution. As Richardson wrote: “Without irony, Virginian James Madison crafted the Constitution to guarantee that wealthy slaveholders would control the new government. Under the new system, which counted slaves as three-fifths of a person for the purposes of representation, Virginia commanded an astonishing 21 electoral votes, 15.9 percent of the total votes in the Electoral College, the highest percentage of votes controlled by a single state in American history.” If women and poor white men (without the necessary property qualifications) couldn’t vote, and black people were to remain property, and Indian rights were non-existent, in what sense can we say the country was founded on principles of equality? The idea that “all men are created equal” clearly meant all white men of property. No wonder Abraham Lincoln had to turn to the Declaration, and to his own conscience, rather than to the Constitution in his fight against slavery. Lincoln’s evolving views and arguments against slavery escaped even the brilliance of the founders, many of which held slaves themselves. As Lincoln wrote: “You say A. is white, and B. is black. It is color, then; the lighter, having the right to enslave the darker? Take care. By this rule, you are to be slave to the first man you meet, with a fairer skin than your own. You do not mean color exactly?—You mean the whites are intellectually the superiors of the blacks, and, therefore have the right to enslave them? Take care again. By this rule, you are to be slave to the first man you meet, with an intellect superior to your own. But, say you, it is a question of interest; and, if you can make it your interest, you have the right to enslave another. Very well. And if he can make it his interest, he has the right to enslave you.” The irony is that Lincoln was right in that poor and working-class whites throughout history have, in a sense, become slaves to their economic superiors who have an interest in exploiting them for profit in return for low wages and minimal benefits. Lincoln may have prevailed, but the southern ideology was not defeated. Richardson proceeds to show that, despite the Union victory, oligarchic ideas based on social hierarchies moved west, embodied in the image of the western cowboy as a rugged individualist that asked nothing of the government other than to be left alone. (Except that he asked a lot from the government when he needed help removing Indians or protecting property and the white male vote.) The West ultimately joined forces with the South, as Richardson details, and the idea of rule by a wealthy majority morphed into the cornerstone of the modern Republican Party, which keeps the old oligarchic ideas alive and well via a repulsive combination of unfettered capitalism, social conservatism, and fundamentalist Christianity, propped up and perpetuated via conservative media outlets. The real brilliance of Richardson’s book is that it shows how the oligarchy in this country has used the same tactics of persuasion to retain power since the very beginning. The rhetoric of twenty-first-century oligarchs is virtually indistinguishable from the rhetoric of the southern plantation owners of the 1850s. The strategy is the same: win the poor and working-class white vote by telling them that evil minorities and women are stealing their jobs and wealth so that they never come to see that it is in fact the oligarchy that is rigging the economic system in their favor to siphon worker productivity into ever-higher profits for the wealthy (neatly demonstrated in our continuously rising levels of inequality and middle-class wage stagnation). In summary, people cannot unite economically if they are divided racially. The strategy never seems to fail, because if poor white people can at least feel superior to minorities, they won’t revolt against the wealthy elite that are in reality the root of the problem. This is the divide-and-conquer strategy the right is well-known for using throughout history. Blame immigrants, the media, the left, the intellectual elite, anyone except the economic elite that push for steeper tax cuts and lower regulation (trickle-up economics). The game plan simply hasn’t changed in over 150 years because, despite its shameful and exploitive history, the targets of this manipulation are not reading scholarly works in American history. If you ever wondered why leaders like Andrew Jackson and Donald Trump said things like “I love the uneducated,” it’s because they know the uneducated are more likely to fall for the rhetoric that will actually get them to vote against their own interests. Will democracy survive yet another onslaught of oligarchic subordination? The question is open, but the choice is ours—we know the history and we know the fight. The question is, will we mobilize the vote and fight back, once again, against the same oligarchic ideology that simply refuses to die?

  2. 5 out of 5

    Mehrsa

    I was mixed about this book--on the one hand, there are places where the thesis is provocative and fascinating, but those are so few and far between. The rest of it is just a fast paced tour of American history--much of it you probably know from elsewhere. The book gets too bogged down in a wikipedia history of certain events and it loses the focus on the thesis. Instead of this one, I might suggest Grandin's The End of the Myth or Bring the War Home by Belew. I was mixed about this book--on the one hand, there are places where the thesis is provocative and fascinating, but those are so few and far between. The rest of it is just a fast paced tour of American history--much of it you probably know from elsewhere. The book gets too bogged down in a wikipedia history of certain events and it loses the focus on the thesis. Instead of this one, I might suggest Grandin's The End of the Myth or Bring the War Home by Belew.

  3. 5 out of 5

    James

    Saying that the Confederacy won the Civil War is an extremely bold claim: militarily they were defeated and never really stood a chance against the Union. However, when it comes to pernicious ideology, the original sin of slavery that stains for generations, the South’s claim to victory is clearer. Starting from the very founding of the United States, Heather Cox Richardson charts the rise and flourishing of a twisted union between racism, slavery, and individualism. Confederate politicians used Saying that the Confederacy won the Civil War is an extremely bold claim: militarily they were defeated and never really stood a chance against the Union. However, when it comes to pernicious ideology, the original sin of slavery that stains for generations, the South’s claim to victory is clearer. Starting from the very founding of the United States, Heather Cox Richardson charts the rise and flourishing of a twisted union between racism, slavery, and individualism. Confederate politicians used racism and the threat against individualism from the government and anti-slavery campaigners in the North to sell a false claim to white Americans in the South, which eventually spread to the West. To see the links between cowboys and confederates made so clear is startling but it must be made. Western individualism and the mythology of cowboys and the Wild West were built on the backs of racism, sexism, and slavery. From Black to Chinese to American Indian to women who did not adhere to patriarchal norms to lower-class workers, all suffered as Western states and Southern states joined forces to disenfranchise and exclude anyone who wasn’t a white, male, American. As the 1960s finally saw attempts made to repair the damage to race relations and African-Americans, Southern ideology rose again as Movement Conservatism popularised not by the vulgarity of men like George Wallace and Orval Faubus who proclaimed segregation now and forever, but dressed in concern for the deficit and government overreach. Barry Goldwater’s nomination and carrying of five southern states saw the West’s Union with southern politics complete but it was the election of Ronald Regan that cemented it. This is such a timely book as Cox Richardson outlines clearly the struggle for America’s identity as a pluralistic, democratic, inclusive nation or as a exclusionary nation run by oligarchs. 2016 showed the struggle is still vivid, still not ended, and that America’s identity must not be lost again.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Randall Wallace

    After the Civil War, westerners interpreted the 14th Amendment to exclude Chinese and Native Americans. After 1880, the Republican Party loses the South to the Democrats for the next hundred years. Southern Democrats tried to get national votes by catering to western racial hierarchies. They found out that the West was more like the South than it was like the North. “Western congressmen helped southern Democrats kill anti-lynching legislation.” By 1880, you’ve got the Cowboy Myth, the rugged ind After the Civil War, westerners interpreted the 14th Amendment to exclude Chinese and Native Americans. After 1880, the Republican Party loses the South to the Democrats for the next hundred years. Southern Democrats tried to get national votes by catering to western racial hierarchies. They found out that the West was more like the South than it was like the North. “Western congressmen helped southern Democrats kill anti-lynching legislation.” By 1880, you’ve got the Cowboy Myth, the rugged individualist (in fact though: “often men of color”) on the lone prairie, where men were self-reliant manly men, and women were intentionally reduced to only being wives or whores. Nothing says self-reliant more than white men getting free grazing land and railroad subsidies – the West was owned not by the lone cowboy with his wavering diatonic harmonica, of course, but by “those who controlled mining, oil, cattle, railroads, irrigation and agribusiness.” The slaveholder notion of “equality will end all liberty” merely moved West after the end of the Civil War where it would regain power. For slave owners, freedom had required slavery. Those who hired Chinese to build western railroad tunnels, understood. Under the Slave Codes, a minister caught marrying two people across racial lines was fined 10,000 pounds of tobacco. The men who prattled on about the Enlightenment had no issue holding slaves. Conflating class and race, gave white US elites a way “to take over government and undermine democracy”. We’ve all read how Andrew Jackson forcibly moved the native tribes out of the South (Trail of Tears), but did you know before that, that some Cherokee leaders had plantation homes that rivaled the splendor of those of the white slaveholders’ next door? It was clear all Cherokee natives had to go so white Southerners could move in and leave the world their great invention: the trailer park. Then comes the cotton boom fueled by the cotton gin and the North processes as much as the South makes. The South produced 1 billion pounds of cotton in 1850 and double that in 1860 as it turned the screws on each slave’s production. Most white women in the South were of course wage workers, but that soon was spun into each one being a Southern belle repeating, “I do declare” with a hand fan. As one top planter explained to his son in 1852, women were made “to breed”, or as “toys for recreation”, or to bring you “wealth and power”. You could be killed back then in the South for handing out anti-slavery literature. Britain abolished slavery in 1833. In 1825, the Erie Canal opened the Great Lakes to the Atlantic which led to huge growth in the Midwest including industrial mills. Proud Texans don’t want anyone to know that many of the Alamo’s defenders were Mexican and that Davy Crockett surrendered rather than hold out. Did you know “at least 163 Mexicans were lynched in California between 1848 and 1860”? Not just that but some were hacked to pieces or had their tongues cut out. My goodness, this is THE land of freedom and liberty – if you are both white and sadistic. California’s racist laws (non-whites couldn’t testify against whites, etc.) became the legal precedent for the entire west when it became a state in 1850. This book explains how during the Civil War, The Sand Creek Massacre out West happened where the private parts of native women were stretched over militia saddle-bows or over soldier’s hats. One soldier had demonstrated “western rugged self-reliance” by cutting off a native man’s testicles to use as a tobacco pouch. No wonder the South and the West got along great – look what the South did to Sam Hose and Jesse Washington. They could both hide all their skin peeling stories behind the Rhett Butler and John Wayne facades. Heather brilliantly states, “While the slave owners did not win the war, it turned out they had surrendered only on the battlefield.” Few would actually want to live the strenuous real life of a cowboy – we were taught in ads that they spent most of their time smoking Marlboros backlit at sunset, and now we are being taught that they spend their time hating the federal government. Texans found out the hard way that their parched landscape couldn’t grow cotton and was best suited for cattle. In 1865, you could get ten times the price for a fattened cow in Chicago, then in Texas. That led to a cattle rush. “The myth of the cowboy was born during Reconstruction.” That it was a rare cowboy that got prosperous (the cattlemen got the $) was ignored in favor of pushing the idea that cowboys needed no hand-outs. Yeah, no hand-outs after you provide cattlemen with land, subdue the natives, and offer an economy largely bolstered by the federal government funding both railroads and militias. In 1872, Liberal Republicans got US journalists to buy into the “westerners as just wanting to be left alone” fantasy. They saw that now helping black Americans would actually require money and it was far cheaper to say government had no business helping adjust for inequalities. The cowboy myth requires gender and racial hierarchies. The U.S. army after the Civil War turned full settler-colonial on the Native Americans. Why turn back just because a few “savages” want “to hunt buffalo rather work for a living”? The US cut natives out of the equation. In Los Angeles in one year, fifteen Chinese were lynched. Democrats in California banked on “white worker’s hatred of the Chinese”. To pick up western votes, Republicans surrendered Lincoln’s key point and passed the Chinese Exclusion Act in 1882. Selling out didn’t help enough and the Republicans lost the next election. The official settlement of the West, again reinforced dominance by a few white men, but this time in a whole new location. After the West got irrigation systems in the 1890’s, the benefactor was chiefly agribusiness, not at all the small rugged self-reliant American farmer. The Cowboy Myth covered for Big Business – wage workers built the railroads while not heroic, non-cowboys reaped the profit. Buffalo Bill monetized and reinforced the Cowboy mystique, as did rodeo stunts shown to easterners. Turner’s Frontier Thesis conforms to the same myth. Turner removed all the frontier contributions of the Mexicans, Chinese, and freed Blacks, and gave us a binary white civilization versus “the savages”. And why are there no women in Turner’s thesis? Why would freedom be hierarchical? During the Philippine War, we declared Filipinos as unfit to govern themselves. To say that, the US had to first ignore centuries of Catholic rule and education, and then think how best to be both patronizing and racist. Teddy Roosevelt’s idea was “the oligarchs of industry have replaced the oligarchs of slavery.” Excised from his progressive vision were people of color and union organizers. The South and the West worked together to deny democracy. The South-West alliance stopped anti-lynching legislation – FDR’s hands were racially tied partially because he required support of the old schoolers in the South-West Alliance to get the New Deal through Congress. The New Deal, which both parties have been dishonoring for decades, “brought electricity to the 90 percent of rural Americans who lived in places private power companies considered unprofitable.” Jobs for 8.5 million, 650,000 miles of highways, 125,000 buildings, 120,000 bridges. Now that’s socialism! Ha ha… In the 50’s, BOTH parties wanted social welfare, infrastructure and business regulation. What changed? New Deal opponents induced narrative since they could not use reasoned argument. William F. Buckley introduces his childish game for adults of intentionally misrepresenting your opponent’s positions and then smearing them with hot-button taunts while pressing for “individualism” and religious orthodoxy. I thought of his comical vocal mannerisms as “Paul Lynde on Lithium”. Buckley wanted to return America to the slaveholder’s “equality would undercut liberty” fantasy. Barry Goldwater’s image was self-reliant old school westerner – not bad for growing up with a family chauffeur, nurse and live-in maid which clearly made Barry a paragon of a self-made man when for self-made money he had simply married an heiress. Barry’s many stalwart fans still cherish that he voted against Brown v. Board of Education and Eisenhower’s desegregation of Little Rock High School. Jackie Robinson heard Goldwater talk white supremacy at the Cow Palace and promptly left the Republican Party saying he now knew “how it felt to be a Jew in Hitler’s Germany.” No wonder Goldwater is still extremely popular among genteel southern whites. Reagan said as governor how he hated government, while awash in government contracts financially keeping his neck above water. The Southern Strategy begins when Republicans abandon attempts to attract blacks and focus on attracting the American Cletus in his natural habitat. Nixon’s election proved that White Supremacy could still be a winning ticket with Nixon supporters officially being called “good Americans”. Nixon had discovered, like Goebbels, that emotions are more easily aroused, than reason. Then conservatives boldly thought up the prosperity gospel, I say boldly because it was the opposite of what Jesus preached. Grover Norquist revealed the conservative plan, “All reductions in federal spending weaken the Left in America. Defunding the government is defunding the Left.” Ah, such a moral vision… Why protestors are in the streets: In 2011, the average Black American had a mere 15.62% of the wealth of the average White American. When you can’t win with policy because your parties policies are so destructive, you win with your $$$ hand-chosen focus-group selected narrative – America is under siege by takers giving to the undeserving in order to replace liberty with communism while destroying American freedom. Yeah, that’s it. Did you know the guy who historically proved that Davy Crocket surrendered at the Alamo received hate mail? Wow… Republicans campaigned against the “fairness doctrine”. Who could be opposed to fairness? Now our media just pushes ideology while informed debate is only found in school classrooms between children wearing glasses. Reality no longer matters. The Willie Horton kill story was a Republican failure redrawn as a Democratic failure and it worked. Women wanting equality effortlessly became “wanting handouts”. When facts get banished, it’s easy to sell bad policy through emotion over reason. FOX News wants you to believe America is still largely rural and not where three quarters of Americans actually live near a large US city of 100,000 or more. The key to FOX is aggressively promoting fringe ideas on air until they appear acceptable; to achieve this they need a delicate melange of gaslighting and propaganda with more than a whiff of vanilla and organic hokum. Meanwhile Newt Gingrich launches impeachment against Bill Clinton with a straight face while he was nailing for six years his own staffer Callista, away from his “best friend” and wife Marianne’s eyes. Priceless. Five Stars. What a great and important book; we were told through endless childhood westerns that the West meant freedom but when examined again the West appears to have unspoken but clear troubling race and gender hierarchies, not unlike the antebellum South. This book makes me want to get into this subject of the West even more by soon reading the revered Richard Slotkin Trilogy on the West, including his “Regeneration Through Violence”.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Peter O'Kelly

    Exceptionally timely and insightful Reviews: • https://www.foreignaffairs.com/review... • https://www.publishersweekly.com/978-... • https://www.kirkusreviews.com/book-re... • https://www.nyjournalofbooks.com/book... Author profile: https://bcheights.com/2018/03/18/heat... Daily newsletter: https://heathercoxrichardson.substack...  Author video series: https://www.facebook.com/pg/heatherco... (also likely to be available on author YouTube channel soon) Exceptionally timely and insightful Reviews: • https://www.foreignaffairs.com/review... • https://www.publishersweekly.com/978-... • https://www.kirkusreviews.com/book-re... • https://www.nyjournalofbooks.com/book... Author profile: https://bcheights.com/2018/03/18/heat... Daily newsletter: https://heathercoxrichardson.substack...  Author video series: https://www.facebook.com/pg/heatherco... (also likely to be available on author YouTube channel soon)

  6. 5 out of 5

    Ekul

    I was really excited to read this book but, in the end, I wasn't so impressed. Richardson's thesis is obviously that the South won the Civil War. To Richardson, the "South" is represented above all by its oligarchical techniques, of which slavery is just part of the picture. In her view (rightfully, I think), the South developed a deep aristocracy that was profoundly antithetical to American democracy. Richardson finds that this is, above all, because of the South's extractive economy. Unlike the I was really excited to read this book but, in the end, I wasn't so impressed. Richardson's thesis is obviously that the South won the Civil War. To Richardson, the "South" is represented above all by its oligarchical techniques, of which slavery is just part of the picture. In her view (rightfully, I think), the South developed a deep aristocracy that was profoundly antithetical to American democracy. Richardson finds that this is, above all, because of the South's extractive economy. Unlike the North which emphasized manufacturing and the service sector, Southern business required a great deal of capital. In the age of King Cotton, this capital meant both having vast tracts of land and a large, inexpensive (or nearly free) labor force. As a result, large landowners were able to grow to immense sizes and establish a political, social, and economic oligarchy that pitted itself against both the North and against "average" white Southerners, who worked for wages, and slaves. My disagreement with Richardson is her coverage of the years after the Civil War. She argues that the South basically replicated itself in the West by a variety of different means. The two most important of these means were (1) the similar extractive economy of the West, and (2) painting an image of white male settlers as unique people in opposition to Native Americans, the Chinese, Latinos, and women. In this way, the Democratic Party was able to spread itself West, and it then joined the South in rallying to the Republican Party in the 1960s and 1970s, in large part due to the rise of Movement Conservativism. The basic facts of this narrative are true, but Richardson spends too much time emphasizing the similarities between the South and the West while downplaying their differences. True, the Western United States had (and has) an extractive economy much like the South, but the Federal government is still far more involved there than it ever was in the South. Richardson does address this difference to some extent, pointing out that both Barry Goldwater and Ronald Reagan's families claimed to be "self-made" although they were reliant on grants and funding from the Federla government, but she doesn't think much about the role of actual landownership here. The Federal government owns massive swaths of land and its infrastructural projects are apparent wherever you go. Although high wealth concentration does exist on the West Coast and some other regions--take Koch Industries in Kansas, for instance, property and landownership are far less centralized thanks to laws like the Homestead Act. The Homestead Act was a disaster for Native Americans, but it did prevent the concentrations of wealth seen in the South. I don't want to spend too much time on their differences, but I don't think that the South won the Civil War by replicating itself westward. Hell, I think the discussion of oligarchy falls short in the years immediately following the Civil War, where the majority of American oligarchs were based in the industrial Northeast and were members of the Republican Party, rather than the "elitist Democrats" that Richardson spends so much time discussing. Richardson prefers to talk about the Democratic Populists, who were also elitist on some level, rejecting the power of Northeastern oligarchs, but still viewing themselves as an "elite" when compared to women and racial/ethnic minorities, but the discussion of the industrial oligarchy needs to take place here. Discussions of the West are superfluous and don't do a whole lot to illustrate her point. Overall, I found this book easy-to-read but on the whole, unconvincing.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Erik

    Richardson offers a provocative thesis: that today's conservatives were yesterday's Confederates. She doesn't just mean that many conservatives come from the South or that the South votes heavily conservative. She means that the ideas that animated the rebels in 1861 are the same basic ones that animate conservatives today. Not literally preserving slavery. But more broadly, that certain people are meant to be on the bottom, the "mudsills" of society, to use the phrasing of antebellum slavery apo Richardson offers a provocative thesis: that today's conservatives were yesterday's Confederates. She doesn't just mean that many conservatives come from the South or that the South votes heavily conservative. She means that the ideas that animated the rebels in 1861 are the same basic ones that animate conservatives today. Not literally preserving slavery. But more broadly, that certain people are meant to be on the bottom, the "mudsills" of society, to use the phrasing of antebellum slavery apologist James Henry Hammond, planter and senator from South Carolina. For Hammond and fellow slavery defenders like John C. Calhoun and Confederate Vice President Alexander Stephens, blacks were meant by God or nature to be always on the bottom, supporting the structure of the economy, and that whites were meant to be on top, running and building things. Today's conservative puts it in different terms, talking about "takers" on the bottom ("welfare queens," people of color, women) and "makers" on the top (corporate bosses, oil men, financiers--as long as they're white men of course). But it's the same idea of natural class structure. And as it justified slavery and then secession in the mid-19th century, so it justifies trickle down economics and tax cuts for the rich today. Don't waste resources on takers, so the argument goes, since they're lazy losers who don't deserve help and won't offer any benefit to society. Instead, let rich people get richer, and that will make the whole economy hum. This is an old story, though Richardson's innovation may be to draw a line connecting the Old South to Trump's America. And she does it through the Old West. The image of the cowboy encapsulates Richardson's argument that the values of the Old South migrated out West and from there, infected the rest of the country. Real cowboys were often poorly paid blacks or Latinos, but the mythical cowboy was a proud white man who stood up for his independence, fought off Indians and needed women only as wives or whores but never as comrades. This image of the individualistic frontiersman came to encapsulate libertarian ideology, that the real American is a person (or really, a white man) who's self reliant, brave, and protective of his independence against the nanny state or uppity inferiors like women or people of color. With similar extractive economies based on selling commodities, the antebellum South and the West developed similar social structures too, with a few white men at the top getting rich off the labor of many people of color at the bottom. And in both cases, though the oligarchs needed lots of government handouts and help to get started and keep going, both southern and western leaders developed the same libertarian ideology: we're self reliant creators who just want government to leave us alone. Richardson ends by offering Americans a choice: either to continue to accept the ideology of the oligarchs and get further and further away from democracy or to reject small government libertarianism and supply-side economics and instead to embrace the liberation offered by Lincoln and by the northern victory in 1865, to redeem the promise in the Declaration of Independence to create a system that supports equality for all.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Delany

    Richardson (HCR) is a lifeline for MANY of us in 2020. She’s a brilliant professor/historian who places current events in historical context in her daily essays and weekly talks; this, her most recent book, lays out the political backdrop of the life vs. death struggle we’re now embroiled in. At stake are the fundamental principles of our constitution, the separation of powers, democracy vs. oligarchy, and equal justice under the law for all.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Joseph

    The author draws comparisons between the turbulent politics of the 1850's and the even stormier politics of today. While the book has a clearly anti-Trump theme, I found the text very crisp and the narrative flowed well. The author looks back through political history to the founding generation and proceeds to follow her theme through to current times. While I didn't agree with everything the author suggested, she made a compelling case for the rise of a modern oligarchy in current politics. The author draws comparisons between the turbulent politics of the 1850's and the even stormier politics of today. While the book has a clearly anti-Trump theme, I found the text very crisp and the narrative flowed well. The author looks back through political history to the founding generation and proceeds to follow her theme through to current times. While I didn't agree with everything the author suggested, she made a compelling case for the rise of a modern oligarchy in current politics.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Ryan

    After I read Professor Richardson's thesis on the formerly Confederate "oligarchic" culture in the "West," I found myself researching online archives; Know-Nothing west coast platforms; Democratic Party "Young America" debates; and prewar Republican Party "free soil" campaign material...all for the roots of "Cowboy Reconstruction." Professor Richardson examines Barry Goldwater and then the New Right in the western states. But precursors prove pivotal for her contentions, both reconfiguring "iden After I read Professor Richardson's thesis on the formerly Confederate "oligarchic" culture in the "West," I found myself researching online archives; Know-Nothing west coast platforms; Democratic Party "Young America" debates; and prewar Republican Party "free soil" campaign material...all for the roots of "Cowboy Reconstruction." Professor Richardson examines Barry Goldwater and then the New Right in the western states. But precursors prove pivotal for her contentions, both reconfiguring "identity politics" and previous "infrapolitics" as intersections in a "politics of the governed," as well as (paradoxical?) governance of, by, and for "the people" in society. In these contexts, she eschews "plutocracy" for "oligarchy," concepts that she deploys prior to challenges against eighteenth-century mercantilist monarchy. Yet her arguments still do not quite amount to anachronism. She does not employ apophatic dialectics and she does not include vague critical commentary on prior studies--at least, not in the body of the text. That said, I often found myself pondering a conspicuous absence of yeomen dissent and complicity as well as the twentieth-century Dust Bowl exodus. Then again, her contentions needed to apply "oligarchy" in toto. Historian Kevin Waite's research on the Gasden Purchase, postbellum mail roads connecting the southeast to the southwest, geopolitical legacies of unfulfilled planter (Young America?) plans for a transcontinental railroad, as well as the pervasive influence of the United Daughters of the Confederacy on California landscape memory before 1935, should prove helpful here. Gilded Age and Progressive periodization overlap a bit and "equal upon principle, and making exceptions to it" warranted an assessment of "equal." Such an assessment could move beyond opponents' rhetorical dismissal of Republican partisanship and labor organizing as "socialism" and "communism." For instance, "equality of opportunity" and "equal protection of the laws" are both similar and different ideas--and not mere hyponyms. But those are all methodological dilemmas and par for the historiography course. Prof. Mandell's recent foray may or may not be helpful in this regard, if readers accept a slight deemphasis on the history of Jeffersonian "all men are created equal" and the premise that Jacksonian politics were a variant of egalitarianism, albeit in a bound market economy with (anti) racialized anti-slavery arguments. The book does address "the South" and "life, liberty, and property" as well as ideas on the " 'vocal minority' that was trying to impose their views over 'reason and the will of the majority.' " Key to Prof. Richardson's application and siloing of such ideas to "rights" is her contention that "whether a minority or not, those who were asserting their rights were vocal." Certain historians contend that Confederate and Redeemers' conflated "public liberty" with "personal liberty." This conflation reconfigured the politics of chattel slavery, "natural rights [not only natural law]," as well as Jim Crow laws. Her arguments could be further explained to general audiences without the circular reasoning and promotion of "liberty" cadences and transformations in "freedom" vis-a-vis postbellum capitalism. Likewise with western state constitutional conventions, state Superior Courts, and Republican-Democrat debates over Native Americans. Prof. Richardson periodically associates "easterners" and "the East" with "Congress" and federal Supreme Court judicial politics in the first half of the book as well. This framework becomes less applicable as more western states entered the Union. Likewise as the proportion of southern students at greater New England colleges and law schools reached pre-Civil War levels--from a "handful" or a "few" Confederate veteran law students in 1865 to 30%-40% "Deep Southern" law students between 1912 and 1952. Again, though, that's all par for the historiography course. On that note, a number of forthcoming books will explore how postbellum Democratic partisan politics and legacies of chattel slavery shaped greater New England as well as mid-Atlantic fiscal plans and western state investments. Democratic Party courtship of immigrant labor in cities such as New York and San Francisco, for instance, facilitated Democratic critique of Republican anti-immigration laws as well as support for Jim Crow employment practices across the U.S. Conversely, according to Booker T. Washington, W.E.B. DuBois, and Ida B. Wells, TR's multivalent decisions as President largely contributed to the fracturing of African-American electorates (1912)...or at least those not relegated to passive citizenship. As a caveat, readers should note that not all bills sponsored by eco-xenophobic organizations--such as the IRL's infamous immigrant literacy test--received support from Congressional Republicans during the first two decades of the twentieth century. Both Republican and Democratic Presidents also vetoed that test and, of course, environmental substantive law was not always connected with xenophobia. Perhaps more importantly, a Democrat-controlled Congress overrode their own party leader's veto of the immigration literacy test and finally passed the test as federal law, on the eve of U.S. entry into WW1, the Palmer Raids, and the demise of Randolph Bourne's variant of "progressive liberalism." Moreover, the racial, gendered, and sexual contours of bipartisan eco-xenophobia often became more manifest in "liberal" 1920s markets. Illuminati such as Madison Grant spoke on behalf of eugenic and anti-miscegenation proponents in the Chesapeake, even as the American Civil Liberties Union accepted an expanded caseload. I would prefer that Professor Richardson even further elaborate--not necessarily add more topics--on how myriad "progressivisms" (in addition to imperial dimensions); immigrant politics and categories in the late twentieth century; "foreign but Native" in annual migration seasons; 1950s/60s scholarly articles on "liberty" in history; "Lavender politics;" "conservative, not Republican" voters; "Black Republicans;" neoconservative distinctions between domestic capitalism and overseas imperialism; neo-New-South (neo-Confederate? border states?) ideas among Democrats and Republicans, all contributed--or didn't contribute--to the "continuing fight for the soul of America." Her writing is a bit more persuasive than explanatory or expository for the subject matter, but readers may or may not find that the prose frames a provocative study. Much to her credit, Professor Richardson largely avoids the paradoxical politics of literary criticism. Given historical actors' references to "landed proprietors," as well as rhetorical dismissals of "socialism" or "communism," I wished for more elucidation of "oligarchy." But my only major quibble was the lack of California "democratic" voting patterns as a facet of her analytical repertoire. All sides of my family established permanent residences in that state during the early to mid-twentieth century. Certain offspring stayed, certain offspring didn't. goodreads History: A Tentative CA Electoral Timeline 1865-1908: CA electoral majorities endorse Republican Party delegates and Presidents 1880 & 1892: CA Democratic Party victories by less than 1% margins~Gold Democrats vs. Silver Republicans vs. Woman's Party 1908-19: Competing "progressivisms," which includes imperial dimensions 1912: CA simple electoral majorities vote for Progressive Party and Hiram Johnson (Pres running mate) after passage of Prop 4-->HJ, Progressive Party Platform, or both? 1916: Wilsonian Democrats in narrow victories 1920-21: FDR loss as Dem Presidential running mate, contracted polio, hiatus from politics 1920-28: Roaring Republican "liberal" markets and Will Rogers apolitical Democratic partisanship 1928: NorCal Al Smith Dem "progressive"/Catholic coalitions vs. SoCal Republican "liberalism" 1932-50: FDR, Truman, and Democratic Party endorsed by CA electoral majorities 1932-40: GOP-Southern Dem exemptions on New Deal welcomed by certain CA employers 1940-45: GOP-Southern Democrat undermining of New Deal social welfare programs 1948: CA electoral majorities remain Democrat despite Dixiecrat Party bid 1950-62: California consumers, agribusiness, and m/i complex vote "New Look" Republican and limited "liberal consensus," paving the way for the somewhat asymmetrical "I hope you're all aware we're all Eisenhower Republicans" 1964: California votes LBJ Democrats and Civil Rights Movement 1968: RFK wins Democratic Presidential Primary in CA, assassinated 1968-90: California electoral majorities vote for the New Right 1974: Gov. Jerry Brown and Dem Watergate Babies, a rising faction incorporated into New Democrats 1990-2018?: New Democrat ascension in CA politics -->Republican candidates retain neoconservative "intellectual" counsel, resulting in conflict and consensus within the national party and public policy (the assumption of the political in arguments for the apolitical) -->Democratic candidates begin to diverge from "New Democrat" national partisan ideas and Cass Sunstein leaves Obama Administration ; recounted as partnership vis-à-vis services, although voters endorse partisan tickets -->New Democrats in Liberty Power? A. 1996 Defense of Marriage Act 64% Dem Representatives Support 72% Dem Senators Support 57% CA Dem Representatives Support 0% CA Dem Senators Support B. 1996 "Personal Responsibility" and Work Opportunity Act 50% Dem Representatives Support 53% Dem Senators Support 50% CA Dem Representatives Support 0% CA Dem Senators Support C. 1997 Taxpayer Relief Act 80% Dem Representatives Support 82% Dem Senators Support 52% CA Dem Representatives Support 100% CA Dem Senators Support D. 1999 Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act 75% Dem Representatives Support 84% Dem Senators Support 80% CA Dem Representatives Support 50% CA Dem Senators Support 2020: Joe Biden loses California Primary to Bernie Sanders, but selects Kamala Harris as running mate one week before the Democratic National Convention-->"Progressive" Democrats support with caveats over "conviction record," etc.; mostly anti-death-penalty; voters still endorsing partisan tickets?

  11. 5 out of 5

    Thomas Ray

    How the South Won The Civil War, Heather Cox Richardson, 2020, 240pp., ISBN 9780190900908, Library-of-Congress JK1717, Dewey 306.20973 This is history as current events: not just what happened but the scheming behind it. It's not exactly that the South won. It's the everything-for-the-overlord, nothing-for-the-rest-of-us ideology that has triumphed. With help from fanning white American fears of losing to blacks, women, foreigners: divide and conquer. Rich men convinced voters that extending the How the South Won The Civil War, Heather Cox Richardson, 2020, 240pp., ISBN 9780190900908, Library-of-Congress JK1717, Dewey 306.20973 This is history as current events: not just what happened but the scheming behind it. It's not exactly that the South won. It's the everything-for-the-overlord, nothing-for-the-rest-of-us ideology that has triumphed. With help from fanning white American fears of losing to blacks, women, foreigners: divide and conquer. Rich men convinced voters that extending the right of self-determination to people of color, women, and poor Americans would destroy it for white men. p. 203. Heather Cox Richardson writes a wonderful summary of today's news (she's been posting at about 2am Chicago time every day) at https://heathercoxrichardson.substack... Except, bizarrely, she doesn't know that (view spoiler)[the Clinton-Clinton-Obama-Biden-Harris party /always/ serves the investor class, to our cost. Clinton quietly sent bankers to arrange world trade deals that race to the bottom in environmental and worker protections, to enrich bankers and multinationals. Clinton quietly exploded the prison population. Obama quietly took /no/ action on climate change, quietly rolled out a lobbyist-written medical-insurance plan that authorizes insurers to charge us 25% more than they pay providers: they're on cost-plus, for the first time ever. Obama quietly amplified the Asian wars, and vastly expanded drone warfare. Obama quietly bailed out Wall Street and left the rest of us to fend for ourselves. We can have Wall Street's left-hand puppet quietly serving up the world to the rich, saying, "yes we can!" or, "I'm the change agent!" Or we can have Wall Street's right-hand puppet doing the exact same things, loudly railing against "illegals," "socialists," "liberals", "Eurocrats." To read Heather Cox Richardson, that choice is enough. It is not. Democrats have proven they will do nothing to curb climate change, will not tax the rich, will continue to enact lobbyist-written laws they haven't read. Sure, Republicans are even worse. Democrats do not deserve the free pass Richardson gives them, merely for not being Republicans. Even FDR, who did more than any other president to make the playing field between the rich and the rest of us less vertical, did so largely by using our Pacific fleet to embargo fossil fuels from entering Japan, to force Japan to go to war with us, so U.S. corporations, not Japan, would control the former European Pacific and Southeast Asian colonies. (hide spoiler)] "I no longer believe that freedom and democracy are compatible." --billionaire Peter Thiel. Meaning, "My freedom to do as I will, to your cost, is infringed by your governing me." p. xxviii. "Man is selfish and lawless and must be kept in line by a ruler." --Thomas Hobbes, /Leviathan/, 1651. p. 4 "No! Supreme executive power derives from a mandate from the masses!" --John Locke, /Two Treatises on Government/, 1690. p. 5 "No taxation without representation!" --John Adams, 1769. p. 9 Freedom of elites such as Jefferson, required slavery. pp. 13, 20-22. Democracy was attainable only so long as it was exclusive. p. 125. Men owned their women and children. p. 14. "All men would be tyrants if they could." --Abigail Adams, 1776. p. 22 1793 cotton gin: suddenly cotton is king. pp. 27, 34 Southern elites insisted that government do nothing except protect property. p. 35 1850: fewer than 1,800 slaveholders owned more than 100 people apiece; U.S. population 23 million, 3 million enslaved. p. 36 1857 Dred Scott decision: Negroes have no rights which the white man is bound to respect. And, Congress cannot prohibit slavery. p. 39 Land-Grant College Act, 1862, "so a poor man's son and a rich man's son had the same access to education." p. 46. [This was much truer in the 1970s, when the state of Illinois paid $12 of University of Illinois expenses for every dollar of student tuition, than in the 2000s, when the state paid only eighty cents per dollar of tuition.] Lincoln said, "I should prefer emigrating to some country where they make no pretence of loving liberty--to Russia, for instance, where despotism can be taken pure, and without the base alloy of hypocrisy." p. 68. Bad idea. The language, "all men are created equal," if we believe it, prods us to make it so. We get what we expect. Give me hypocritical equality rather than hopeless acquiescence to despotism. The Texas cattle rush lasted from 1866 to 1886. During the Civil War, Texans couldn't get cattle to market: they multiplied and overgrazed. After the war, they sold for $4, or could simply be collected, on the hoof in Texas; they brought $40 in Chicago, or, the Army would pay 8 cents a pound if they were driven to a fort. White southerners moved west. p. 87. Cowboys were peons: the money went to the owners. p. 88. The federal government gave settlers land, gave railroad owners land and money, provided a market for western cattle and crops, protected settlers from natives. p. 88. Chinese Exclusion, 1882–1943. p. 98. (See Entry Denied: Exclusion and the Chinese Community in America, 1882–1943, Sucheng Chan, 1991.) Western and southern politicians all wanted to keep nonwhites from power. Not until 1965 would Congress attempt to protect Black voting. p. 101. A few extractive industries dominated the West, and a few tycoons dominated life and politics. p. 103. "It took a gold mine to develop a silver mine." p. 104. Work was low-paid and dangerous. p. 105. Western towns and cities supported a power structure that favored the concentration of wealth--even after Populists put Democrats in power in 1892. p. 108. Cattle barons hired gunmen to murder their small competitors. The Wyoming governor and President Harrison sided with the cattle barons, who got away with murder. 1892. pp. 108–109. The Idaho governor and President Harrison also sided with mine owners over strikers; the army removed the local sheriff, who was on the strikers' side. p. 109. Tycoons believed democracy a perversion of government, as had plantation owners: Civilization depends on "the sacredness of property." The alternative is "Communism," which kills initiative and destroys prosperity. "The best interests of the race are promoted" by the system of individualism, "which inevitably gives wealth to the few."--Andrew Carnegie, /The Gospel of Wealth/, 1889. pp. 109–110. Supreme Court Justice Stephen J. Field wrote more opinions than almost any justice in history, insisting that the primary law in America was protection of property. p. 110. 1897, Assistant Secretary to the Navy Teddy Roosevelt wanted to go to war with Spain, which was trying to put down a rebellion in its colony of Cuba. U.S. Business interests did not want to go to war for starving Cubans. They wanted Spain to retake control and keep the sugar and tobacco coming. p. 117–118. The U.S. quickly beat the Spanish in Cuba--and in the Philippines, which Spain also owned. Spain ceded the Philippines to the U.S. for $20 million. Filipinos were excluded from the peace negotiations. The Sugar Trust, which had 95% of the U.S. sugar market, loved it. The Philippines produced 200,000 tons of sugar in 1897. The Trust had staged a coup against the queen of Hawaii. Bringing sugar-growing areas into the U.S. meant the Trust would pay no tariffs. pp. 120–121. The U.S. also got Puerto Rico and Guam. The islands became quasi-American: no tariffs for the Trust, no citizenship for the natives. pp. 122–123. Teddy Roosevelt became governor of New York in 1898, promising to take government out of the hands of corporations. Republican party operatives convinced him to take the vice presidency under William McKinley instead. p. 125. An unemployed steelworker who believed the Republican Party was instituting oligarchy assassinated McKinley in 1901 and, "that damned cowboy is president." p. 125. Roosevelt wanted everyone--EXCEPT people of color, union organizers, independent women, or the poor--treated equally. p. 126. /Those/ people are "special interests" wanting handouts. The underclass. Without an underclass, there can be no equality for deserving people like us. p. 128. Roosevelt broke up industrial trusts. p. 126. His Progressives wanted worker safety, reasonable hours, fair pay, childhood education, food safety, and NO UNIONS. They wanted to prevent monopolies and tax corporations, but leave them alone. p. 127. Richardson would have us believe the "gold bugs" who put McKinley in the presidency in 1896 wanted to "advance democracy," while the "free silver" proponents of the South and West were the antidemocratic force. In fact, the gold men were the bankers, who knew that control of currency kept them in interest income and power. p. 134. See Origins of the Federal Reserve System: Money, Class, and Corporate Capitalism, 1890-1913, James Livingston, 1986. To people of color, the New Deal looked pretty much like the old deal. p. 138. Social Security deliberately excluded farm work and domestic work--where black workers predominated. In 1943, Congress finally ended Chinese Exclusion, in effect since 1882. p. 149. William F. Buckley, in his plutocrat-funded /National Review/ magazine, insisted that government do nothing but protect life, liberty, and property--just as slaveholders had insisted a century earlier. p. 155. Americans' incomes, across the economic spectrum, doubled between 1945 and 1970, thanks to wage laws and tax laws. p. 156. In the 1950s, 62% of the federal budget went for war industries, many of them in California. p. 157. By 1961 the military-industrial complex employed more than 3.5 million Americans directly, and many more indirectly. Its beneficiaries beat the war drum, claiming the "liberal elite" had gone soft on communism. And that the government--the source of their prosperity--should not tax nor regulate them. p. 160. Westerners and southerners agreed that desegregation, which gave black Americans benefits paid for by tax dollars, offered prime evidence of a communist conspiracy. In Arizona, the Hoover Dam and fifty other federal agencies brought $342 million into the state, while the federal government took less than $16 million in taxes. That money was the source of the Goldwater family fortune. He claimed instead that it was solely due to his family's hard work. p. 162. He resented labor law and taxes, and insisted that the government had no business in "social welfare programs, education, public power, agriculture, public housing, or urban renewal." p. 163. Never mind that he would never have been rich without it. Nor that without public education the age would be dark. Reagan, too, ignored the utter dependence of the West on government contracts. p. 167. He won the California governorship in 1966, promising to "send the welfare bums back to work," and "clean up the mess in Berkeley," where students were protesting the Vietnam War. p. 169. Milton Friedman claimed tax cuts for the rich would pay for themselves. p. 177. Didn't work out that way. In 1978, California passed Proposition 13, limiting property tax to 1% of the value of the property, and required a two-thirds majority of the legislature to raise taxes. p. 178. Reagan said, "Government is not the solution. Government is the problem." Reagan, as president, slashed taxes of the rich and cut protections for the rest of us. Unfettered rule-by-the-rich. p. 180. He nearly tripled the national debt, from $1 trillion to $2.8 trillion. p. 183. From Thomas Piketty's Wealth and Incomes Database: http://wid.world In the U.S., for only forty years, from 1942 through 1981, was the average income of the top .01% less than 165 times the average family income. These were the years when the federal government effectively wielded political power – through labor law, antitrust law, and progressive taxation – to lessen the slope of the playing field. The top .01% take many hundreds of times the average income now. By 2015, the top 1% of families had as much wealth as the bottom 90%. p. 186. Newt Gingrich, as speaker of the House in 1995, eliminated House of Representatives committees and staff. Bewildered representatives turned to lobbyists to explain issues and write bills. pp. 184-185. 2011 median income & wealth by race, p. 186: White $50,400 income, $111,000 wealth Latino $36,840 income, $8,300 wealth Black $32,000 income, $7,000 wealth Pine Ridge Lakota (40,000 people) $3,000 income. Reagan's Federal Communications Commission in 1987 ended the Fairness Doctrine requiring fact-based reporting and equal time for candidates. p. 188. Rupert Murdoch started Fox News in 1996, Roger Ailes, CEO. p. 192. Other channels began spewing Fox's opinions, after Fox called them, "biased." p. 193. Fringe ideas became mainstream through incessant repetition: government is socialism. Minorities and women attack American freedom. Bill Clinton accepted many of the Republican austerity and deregulatory policies. p. 194. Florida purged up to 100,000 legitimate voters, presumed Democrats, from the rolls before 2000. George W. Bush won Florida by 537 votes, and with it the presidency. p. 195. Republican redistricting after the 2010 census guaranteed Republican majorities in House delegations of states with a minority of Republican votes. p. 197. Especially Florida, Wisconsin, North Carolina, Ohio, and Michigan. In 2012, Democrats won the presidency and the senate; Democrats had 1.4 million more votes for their House candidates than Republicans had, but Republicans won a 33-seat majority in the House. p. 197. [Of course, Democrats, when /they/ had majorities in state legislatures, /could have/ instituted nonpartisan redistricting laws. They didn't. They wanted to draw maps to their advantage when they were in power.] Reagan appointed more judges than any other president ever. p. 197. By 2016, Republicans sounded like slaveholders defending oligarchy. p. 198. They claimed poor whites, too, had only themselves to blame. A speech from 1860 sounds like it was said in 2016. p. 201. Trump virtually eliminated the estate tax. p. 199. Other books on similar lines: The Half Has Never Been Told: Slavery and the Making of American Capitalism, Edward E. Baptist, 2013. The Industrial Revolution was a revolution in textile manufacture, made from cotton grown, cultivated and picked by enslaved people. Slavery was brutal. Slavery was far more profitable than free labor. Slaveholders would /never/ voluntarily have freed slaves. https://www.goodreads.com/review/show... Dark Money: The Hidden History of the Billionaires Behind the Rise of the Radical Right, Jane Mayer, 2016. How extractive-industry billionaires captured control of American thought and politics. https://www.goodreads.com/review/show...

  12. 5 out of 5

    Steven M Cohen

    I've recently started reading Heather Cox Richardson's newsletter, which I find quite insightful, a must-read in today's climate. Yet, I found this book a bitter disappointment. It read more like a bad undergraduate history paper. To be sure, she has unearthed some interesting information on parallels between the anti-bellum South and the people who came to run the Western United States after the Civil War. Nevertheless her thesis seems to boil down to the idea that the South escaped its defeat I've recently started reading Heather Cox Richardson's newsletter, which I find quite insightful, a must-read in today's climate. Yet, I found this book a bitter disappointment. It read more like a bad undergraduate history paper. To be sure, she has unearthed some interesting information on parallels between the anti-bellum South and the people who came to run the Western United States after the Civil War. Nevertheless her thesis seems to boil down to the idea that the South escaped its defeat by exporting its hierarchical model West after the war, turning the tables on the North, which she portrays as honestly wanting to continue with Reconstruction's democratic promise. This is nonsense. The North tired of reconstruction and Northerners as well as Southerners pursued the main chance of striking it rich in the West. It was not a "quirk of geography and timing" that caused the rededication of the country to equality to fail. It was that the North was at best ambivalent toward that rededication. Nascent capitalism overcame the radical possibilities of Reconstruction, and Northerners as much as Southerners were to blame. The North had no unified position during the whole Civil War. The Emancipation Proclamation was totally controversial and Lincoln himself thought he was lost in 1864 until military victories finally saved his bacon. The book is also badly written. Addendum (Nov 20, 2020): I've recently noticed Ms. Richardson's video touching on this subject again: https://www.facebook.com/241446929332... In my opinion this is a much better analysis of the situation than what is in her book. She's now delving into the reasons behind the North's retreat from Reconstruction and locating it in the emerging industrial capitalism's incompatibility with government-aided help for the freed slaves. This, IMHO, is the correct interpretation of this history, much better than her treatment of it in the book.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Kathy

    YALL I was browsing the Goodreads Choice Awards history list and then came upon an author name that looked... highly familiar? Heather Cox Richardson?? OH right, I exchanged long book recommendations with a guy going the opposite direction as me on a thruhike and when I suggested Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee, tell me why this mans said to me: "Hey my mom wrote a book on Wounded Knee, Heather Cox Richardson, you should check it out!" I promised him I would, and I'd been meaning to look her up but YALL I was browsing the Goodreads Choice Awards history list and then came upon an author name that looked... highly familiar? Heather Cox Richardson?? OH right, I exchanged long book recommendations with a guy going the opposite direction as me on a thruhike and when I suggested Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee, tell me why this mans said to me: "Hey my mom wrote a book on Wounded Knee, Heather Cox Richardson, you should check it out!" I promised him I would, and I'd been meaning to look her up but kept forgetting. Now HERE SHE IS AS A NOMINEE?? I feel obligated to read her. Also what do I do with this information?? Message celebrated historian of our times @HC_Richardson and be like Hey met your son in the woods and traded him a block of cheddar cheese for dark chocolate, he told me to read your book and my uncivilized butt had no clue you were a big deal so I'm gonna vote for you on Goodreads now??? Pls advise

  14. 5 out of 5

    Jud Barry

    I very much wanted to like this book, as I am unabashedly a political partisan of Richardson's. Regrettably, though, I didn't get past page 21. There -- after a leadup that emphasizes the belief in the need for "guidance of superior white men" over black ones to be "natural and proper, even God-given," an agreed-upon "burden of white men" that in the hands of "southern leaders like Thomas Jefferson" gave the lie to the sentiment "all men are created equal," since behind it lay a notion that a "wo I very much wanted to like this book, as I am unabashedly a political partisan of Richardson's. Regrettably, though, I didn't get past page 21. There -- after a leadup that emphasizes the belief in the need for "guidance of superior white men" over black ones to be "natural and proper, even God-given," an agreed-upon "burden of white men" that in the hands of "southern leaders like Thomas Jefferson" gave the lie to the sentiment "all men are created equal," since behind it lay a notion that a "world in which men of color had rights equal to theirs" was inconceivable -- Richardson writes, "That distinction [the seeming division between the races] was carried into the founding document of the American nation. Without irony, Virginian James Madison crafted the Constitution to guarantee that wealthy slaveholders would control the new government," after which -- in seeming confirmation of Madison's unirony -- she describes the 3/5ths compromise, before concluding [long ellipsis] -- with Madison still unperturbably in the background -- "So in America, the radical idea that all men were created equal depended on the traditional idea that all men were created unequal and that a few wealthy men should control the government." And with that Clio was dagger'd. I would defend her myself, but perhaps The New York Times will wield a little more authority. Even this article takes its time getting down to the point: on the Constitution, "reaching consensus was paramount." It's as if Richardson was taking history lessons from the United Daughters of the Confederacy: be silent on details, remove complexity, and mischaracterize. The one and only thing that you will read about James Madison in this book (he didn't even make the index) is that he "crafted" the Constitution with its 3/5ths clause. This makes him sound more the scheming villain than he or the process of drafting the Constitution deserve. Astoundingly, Richardson gives zero indication that there was any antislavery sentiment that went into the process (how you gonna keep 'em down in Philly/once they've been ON BROADWAY/WHOA-OH-OH-OH), or that there were important differences between proposals by Madison -- whose own draft of the Constitution recognized a free status for non-whites -- and other Southerners, like Charles Pinckney, whose did not. Overall this sadly devalues -- by entirely leaving out -- the antislavery component abroad in the land at the time and its influence on the likes of James Madison. It is an oversimplification that renders impossible a true sense of the early republican ideology, in which the division between slave and non-slave views was stark and deep and in search of solutions as uncertain as the future. So I stopped. I couldn't even with whatever her definition of "oligarchy" might be that would leave out the Yankee bosses of the Guilded Age. More power to her, though, if she gets folks to vote Biden. Trump is the kind of person the electoral college was designed to keep out of the presidency. Can we blame Madison? BWAHAHA.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Bruce Katz

    I got a lot out of this book. The author convinced me that she is right, but to be honest, I didn't need any convincing: the past couple of decades have made the point quite clear. The book starts and ends much. I've studied the history well enough to recognize the resurgence of ideas and practices embraced by the South in the antebellum years and after. What I had trouble with in this book was the middle, in which Dr. Richardson argued at great length that the image of the cowboy and the rugged I got a lot out of this book. The author convinced me that she is right, but to be honest, I didn't need any convincing: the past couple of decades have made the point quite clear. The book starts and ends much. I've studied the history well enough to recognize the resurgence of ideas and practices embraced by the South in the antebellum years and after. What I had trouble with in this book was the middle, in which Dr. Richardson argued at great length that the image of the cowboy and the rugged western individualist were essentially reformulations of the south's oligarchic vision. I think I understand where's she's coming from, but her argument is predicated on the opposition between a Southern feudal oligarchy and a democratic North. I wouldn't presume to say that's wrong, but I found myself thinking of how deeply entrenched the northern oligarchy is and has been. Think of the robber barons, for example. They resided in the northeast but made their millions elsewhere. Was the American West hierarchical? I suppose so. Was it a reflection of a Southern world view? I'm not sure how. I also found myself wondering why she didn't make anything of the carefully laid out mythologizing that made the Confederate flag a mark of American bravery and pride in states north and south, and how statues dedicated to Confederate officers were made to be seen as celebrations of "American" history rather than memorials to men who literally took up arms against the United States. Perhaps the Lost Cause is fruit that's a bit too low hanging? We've also seen so many exercises in voter suppression and political posturing in Congress that are basically nothing more than modernizations -- and barely disguised ones at that -- of Reconstruction Era policies. I might also mention Supreme Court decisions like Shelby that opened the doors and windows to all manner of electoral mischief. These objections notwithstanding, I did find the book a worthy and informative read.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Steve Spencer (he, him.his)

    This is excellent, well-documented, tightly reasoned, and insightful. It tells an alarming tale of white supremacy and oligarchy in American politics over the past two hundred years, masked under other labels, but always deeming major sectors of the population (non-'whites,' women, and the poor) as untrustworthy and thus unworthy of effective participation in elections and governing. This is excellent, well-documented, tightly reasoned, and insightful. It tells an alarming tale of white supremacy and oligarchy in American politics over the past two hundred years, masked under other labels, but always deeming major sectors of the population (non-'whites,' women, and the poor) as untrustworthy and thus unworthy of effective participation in elections and governing.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Laura

    Interesting and enlightening review of American history with the emphasis on the original American paradox of being a nation with an ideal of equality for all, while also being a slave holding nation with laws that inhibit the freedoms of a majority of its people and prevent multitudes of citizens from being a part of the "self" governance. To defend the idea that this isn't a paradox, but a right and natural social hierarchy, white male oligarchs have preached a consistent and disturbingly succ Interesting and enlightening review of American history with the emphasis on the original American paradox of being a nation with an ideal of equality for all, while also being a slave holding nation with laws that inhibit the freedoms of a majority of its people and prevent multitudes of citizens from being a part of the "self" governance. To defend the idea that this isn't a paradox, but a right and natural social hierarchy, white male oligarchs have preached a consistent and disturbingly successful message that equality for all really means a loss of liberty. It is super depressing to trace the current day conservative message that one of government's MAIN responsibilities is to protect property, back to the slave holders reasoning for attempting to destroy the United States and start the Civil War. The slave holders argued that the federal government should protect, not take away, their "property", the people they had enslaved, and because it wasn't doing that well enough, they did not want to be a part of the union. Thus it is even more disturbing, when during the current protests, and people are saying that the destruction of property during these protests is just as wrong as the police brutality and murder they are protesting, you see the same message equating black people to property. Another piece that stuck out to me was about William F Buckley Jr and his arguments that, "American's faith in reasoned debate was a worse superstition than the superstitions the enlightenment had replaced... Rather than try to change people's beliefs through evidence based arguments, ... those opposed to the New Deal should stand firm on an orthodoxy of religion and individualism and refuse to accept any questioning of those two fundamental principals. Rather than making a reasoned argument that fairly presented other positions it (his book) misrepresented the positions of the professors with whom Buckley disagreed, claimed that the wealthy, highly educated Buckley was the member of a persecuted minority, and smeared supporters of the liberal consensus as communists and atheists. " and "The minority can override the wishes of the majority if the majority was wrong. " It is frustrating to see these ideas on steroids through Donald Trump and a certain "news"/entertainment conglomerate that has no shame in using fake images, videos and lies to spread their divisive narrative. The last bit that stuck with me, was her arguments about the notion of American individualism, how it is used by movement conservatives to preserve oligarchy, and how it is so pervasive in so many of mine and probably most American's favorite stories, books and movies. :(

  18. 4 out of 5

    Mannie Liscum

    Heather Cox Richardson, Professor of History at Boston University, has long studied the American Civil War, settling and development of the American west, minority rights, and Republican policy, and in “How the South Won the Civil War” she brings all these threads of her academic career together. The books title and public reviews caught my eye almost immediately. Learning Prof. Cox Richardson’s areas of expertise intrigued me further. The book is well written and highly readable but I was left Heather Cox Richardson, Professor of History at Boston University, has long studied the American Civil War, settling and development of the American west, minority rights, and Republican policy, and in “How the South Won the Civil War” she brings all these threads of her academic career together. The books title and public reviews caught my eye almost immediately. Learning Prof. Cox Richardson’s areas of expertise intrigued me further. The book is well written and highly readable but I was left wanting more and less when I turned the last page. This is ‘revisionist history’ at both its best and not best at the same time. Prof. Richardson provides considerable clarity to previously accepted American history, rightfully making ‘corrections’ to the story we tell ourselves. Yet, her rightful revisions are oft laden with a feeling of more than academic activism. Her approach is almost certainly to not convince the most unwilling amongst us that American history we’ve taught indeed needs revision; indeed my guess is that this book will drive the consecrate apologists, misogynists, bigots and lasse faire capitalists farther towards the vision of ‘American exceptionalism’ and manifest destiny. This is sad because Prof. Cox Richardson’s research and revisionist evidence is solid and valuable. I had hoped for more when I picked up this book. 3 stars overall; 2 stars for the way the material is often presented, 4 stars for the content.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Cynthia

    I start every day reading Heather Cox Richardson's newsletter...a recap of the current news, and she nails it every time. Short and accurate, her perspective comes from a complete understanding of everything that has happened in this country and what led up to our 'beginnings'. Also, I have been so excited because for the last 9 weeks she has been doing a facebook live event (every Tuesday afternoon) talking about the issues and viewers can ask questions. She is brilliant...a History Professor f I start every day reading Heather Cox Richardson's newsletter...a recap of the current news, and she nails it every time. Short and accurate, her perspective comes from a complete understanding of everything that has happened in this country and what led up to our 'beginnings'. Also, I have been so excited because for the last 9 weeks she has been doing a facebook live event (every Tuesday afternoon) talking about the issues and viewers can ask questions. She is brilliant...a History Professor from Boston (if I could move to Boston I would, just to enroll in every class she teaches.) Despite her wisdom and knowledge, she is plain speaking and there's just no way anyone could debate her on the facts. (but boy, I wish they would try!) She tells the WHOLE story. I discovered her around the time when the virus seemed to take over, wall to wall, in this country...and the world. What a fabulous teacher to guide me through all the events of the day she was! Immediately I was addicted and got this book and listened with rapt attention. If there ever was a book that should be required reading for all Americans. this is it!It made me question whether of not I had ever taken a class in history in my life! So, please sign up for her newsletter, follow her on Favebok, and start reading this book today! You won't regret it, I promise!

  20. 4 out of 5

    Mark Joyce

    Publishing this book six months before the 2020 election provided immediacy to its thesis but also, for this reader, resulted in it being pitched somewhere between history and polemic and not fully satisfying on either level. There is a lot of interesting historical content but little of it is original and it serves mainly as ammunition for a political argument which at its core is depressingly clear for all to see – ie, that the racism and sexism of large parts of American society is deeply roo Publishing this book six months before the 2020 election provided immediacy to its thesis but also, for this reader, resulted in it being pitched somewhere between history and polemic and not fully satisfying on either level. There is a lot of interesting historical content but little of it is original and it serves mainly as ammunition for a political argument which at its core is depressingly clear for all to see – ie, that the racism and sexism of large parts of American society is deeply rooted and abetted by the country’s political institutions. A serious, engagingly written book that helps to articulate this state of affairs is not a bad thing. However, I’m not sure it brings us any closer to understanding what can be done about it, especially when six months after the book’s publication approximately 70 million Americans have just voted for a candidate who openly champions the racist and sexist values that Cox Richardson is talking about.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Barb

    Basically, the ideals of elite slaveowners (particularly the notion that equality for all threatens liberty), did not die out with the civil war but moved west and thrived. When these ideas moved west, the racial distinctions were expanded to include Indians, Chinese etc. American cowboys (self-made men) exemplified these ideals of self-reliant men and disapproved of the federal government (which uses tax dollars to redistribute wealth from self-made men to the undeserving). I found the writing Basically, the ideals of elite slaveowners (particularly the notion that equality for all threatens liberty), did not die out with the civil war but moved west and thrived. When these ideas moved west, the racial distinctions were expanded to include Indians, Chinese etc. American cowboys (self-made men) exemplified these ideals of self-reliant men and disapproved of the federal government (which uses tax dollars to redistribute wealth from self-made men to the undeserving). I found the writing to be a bit confusing.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Tom

    This is a great history read and also a current-events read, given how President Donald Trump fits neatly in Richardson's themes of how white men (oligarchs) have manipulated politics so that the American democracy promise of equality only applies to: White men. Richardson builds this story after the Civil War and how the white-dominated scene migrated to the emerging West. She terms the great paradox - democracy always has depended on inequality, and oligarchs have exploited that to remain in pow This is a great history read and also a current-events read, given how President Donald Trump fits neatly in Richardson's themes of how white men (oligarchs) have manipulated politics so that the American democracy promise of equality only applies to: White men. Richardson builds this story after the Civil War and how the white-dominated scene migrated to the emerging West. She terms the great paradox - democracy always has depended on inequality, and oligarchs have exploited that to remain in power.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Michael

    America's Original Sin How the South Won the Civil War, Professor Heather Cox Richardson's fifth book, examines the political struggle fueled by what she calls the "American Paradox", the reality of freedom and equality being dependent on slavery and inequality for many. This paradox was imported to the shores of North America and has survived a revolution, civil war, expansion of empire, and world wars. Ultimately, it drives the competition between democracy and oligarchy, as our society whipsaw America's Original Sin How the South Won the Civil War, Professor Heather Cox Richardson's fifth book, examines the political struggle fueled by what she calls the "American Paradox", the reality of freedom and equality being dependent on slavery and inequality for many. This paradox was imported to the shores of North America and has survived a revolution, civil war, expansion of empire, and world wars. Ultimately, it drives the competition between democracy and oligarchy, as our society whipsaws between protecting the rights of humans and protecting property rights. This work is timely and provides sharp context for the present day. As an intellectual history, the book opens in Shakespearean England, when domestic pressures were encouraging people to look to the New World. Highlights of the Enlightenment and 18th century political developments set the stage for the peculiar attitudes of Colonial America. Here we discover the influences on Adams, Jefferson, and others who would eventually revolt against the King (I was interested to learn about the Country Party, important to John Adams.) Subsequent chapters describe the democracy vs. oligarchy battle in the antebellum period, during Reconstruction, between the World Wars, and during the liberal consensus in the last half of the 20th century. We find that the strategy of the oligarchs is enduring, even if their tactics change throughout the years. The heart of their message is that the American individual is self-made, and eschews the assistance and encumbrance of an activist government. He not only desires to succeed on his own, he does not want to support those who fail. Professor Richardson makes a compelling argument against the myths used by oligarchs: first of the yeoman farmer, and later the western cowboy. Examining these through the lenses of race, class, and gender, their infidelity is manifest. However, their effectiveness waxes and wanes with subsequent generations, and so we witness America vacillating between the equal protection of all people and the sole protection of the property-owning class. A wide variety of source material, including many pop culture documents, illustrate the relationship between narrative and political belief. Many are sources the reader will recognize, and others are novel and help expand our understanding of American history. The book ends in the present day, as oligarchy is again ascendant. We can now see how electoral tactics and expressions of power reflect those of the antebellum period and Gilded Age. As a work of history, How the South Won the Civil War does not draw its own judgments, but it leaves the reader with enough to understand what is at stake if oligarchy again gains a strong foothold in American politics. This is essential [and enjoyable] reading for anyone interested in American politics.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Edward

    If you want to get a clear, accurate, and insightful look at the underlying ideas and issues which have resulted in the troubled nation we have today, and how we got here, this book is a must read. Cutting away much of the noise, the obfuscation, mythology, rhetoric and falsehoods, Richardson traces the basic notions of how societies and nations are structured to, hopefully, benefit the people in them. She traces the evolution of the democratic vs. the oligarchical hierarchy models which are at If you want to get a clear, accurate, and insightful look at the underlying ideas and issues which have resulted in the troubled nation we have today, and how we got here, this book is a must read. Cutting away much of the noise, the obfuscation, mythology, rhetoric and falsehoods, Richardson traces the basic notions of how societies and nations are structured to, hopefully, benefit the people in them. She traces the evolution of the democratic vs. the oligarchical hierarchy models which are at the root of our history. She highlights the paradox of a nation whose ideal was proclaimed based on the principle that all men are created equal which is contrasted with the meaning that some men are created superior. In tracing the idea of real democracy and its struggle to attain reality in our nation, the many unpleasant, even horrifying realities are laid bare, along with the hopeful observation that, when the reality is made clear, the people push back. Whether in this, most recent iteration of the struggle between the people and those who would be their rulers, will come out well, remains to be seen. If you care about our nation, democracy and the future of mankind, read this book and gain understanding.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Leah

    DNF at chapter three. The truest, but harshest thing I can say about this work is that it’s cowardly. It utterly fails to meet this historic moment.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Robert Holmes

    How The South Won the Civil War might have been better titled, "How Oligarchs use racial, gender and class Divisions to secure their privileges. Oligarchy is a fact of life in every culture and the U.S. is no exception. In this book Ms Richardson cherry picks American history to make her points. I agree with her overall belief that oligarchs take advantage of woman and minorities. However I feel that her attempt to link the Confederacy to the modern West is a bridge too far. They certainly have How The South Won the Civil War might have been better titled, "How Oligarchs use racial, gender and class Divisions to secure their privileges. Oligarchy is a fact of life in every culture and the U.S. is no exception. In this book Ms Richardson cherry picks American history to make her points. I agree with her overall belief that oligarchs take advantage of woman and minorities. However I feel that her attempt to link the Confederacy to the modern West is a bridge too far. They certainly have common elements, but these do not include anti-Communism or anti-Unionism. Her revisionist history is excellent and thought provoking way to rethink our core beliefs, but in many details it is just a little simplistic.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Jeffrey Cavanaugh

    A succinct explanation of why the United States is such an outlier among other Western democracies when it comes to implementing social-democratic public policy. In short, our economic oligarchs, whether they be antebellum slave owners, 19th-century robber barons, or today’s movement conservatives, use race, class, gender, and culture to divide working Americans from one another. This isn’t a new idea, of course, but the book adroitly demonstrates how the oligarchs of each era used similar langu A succinct explanation of why the United States is such an outlier among other Western democracies when it comes to implementing social-democratic public policy. In short, our economic oligarchs, whether they be antebellum slave owners, 19th-century robber barons, or today’s movement conservatives, use race, class, gender, and culture to divide working Americans from one another. This isn’t a new idea, of course, but the book adroitly demonstrates how the oligarchs of each era used similar language and political tactics to first undermine democracy and then take control of America government. Sherman really didn’t burn enough.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Gena

    A very readable and concise account of the threat of oligarchy in the United States. I'm a big fan of Richardson's daily updates on Facebook. She has a great talent for distilling information in a way that is educational, entertaining, and not overwhelming. This book has the same qualities. As a historian by education, much of this information was familiar to me; however, her argument was still compelling and I recommend this book in particular to those who do not have a history background. A very readable and concise account of the threat of oligarchy in the United States. I'm a big fan of Richardson's daily updates on Facebook. She has a great talent for distilling information in a way that is educational, entertaining, and not overwhelming. This book has the same qualities. As a historian by education, much of this information was familiar to me; however, her argument was still compelling and I recommend this book in particular to those who do not have a history background.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Johnny Martin

    This was a disconcerting read. Did it between reading a novel to space it out. Worth the read if you watch certain conservatives make political arguments and scratch your head at their general lack of focus on policy outcomes...

  30. 5 out of 5

    Arthur Serratelli

    This author is smart. She writes clearly. She states her thesis up front, in the introduction, in an overview fashion. Then she sets forth exactly the detailed evidence from history in support of her thesis. She is persuasive, convincing, states the unpleasant truth clearly and bluntly, and along with Jill Lepore, is among the great historians actively working today. Her thesis and the specific examples to bolster it from history take the long view, connecting the dots of all the disjointed nonsen This author is smart. She writes clearly. She states her thesis up front, in the introduction, in an overview fashion. Then she sets forth exactly the detailed evidence from history in support of her thesis. She is persuasive, convincing, states the unpleasant truth clearly and bluntly, and along with Jill Lepore, is among the great historians actively working today. Her thesis and the specific examples to bolster it from history take the long view, connecting the dots of all the disjointed nonsense we learn in school, and traces the long arc of history from the Founding Fathers, through the Civil War, Reconstruction, Post WWII America, Barry Goldwater, Nixon, Reagan, and the tyrannical Trump. And her thesis is vivid and her conclusions are brilliant, and offer a very good answer to these questions: * if the South "lost" the Civil War, then why did it take 100 years for Martin Luther King and JFK/LBJ to fix the South's continued oppression of, and violence against, the Southern Black community? Aren't all men created equal? * Or if the South "lost" the Civil War, why, in the West, did the Mexicans, Chinese, and Native American Indians get exploited and degraded just like the "former" slaves in the South? Aren't all men created equal? * Or, why do Native American Indians, specifically and continually, get treated as unwanted cast-offs instead of the ripped-off, lied to, slaughtered, decimated people they have become as a result of U.S. Policy? Aren't all men created equal? * Or why, to this day under the tyrannical Trump, do Immigrants continually get demonized, bullied, and smeared as "unwanted?" Why are defenseless black men killed in cold blood by white police offers (in too many cases)? Why is there an active, persistent, and vile Republican attempt to disenfranchise poor, minority voters? Aren't we all created equal? Didn't the Civil War decide all this? Read this book. The answer is a BIG, RESOUNDING "Hell-to-the-NO," the Civil War did not decide any of this, because the South Won

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