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The Fate of Their Country: Politicians, Slavery Extension, and the Coming of the Civil War

3.41  ·  Rating Details ·  105 Ratings  ·  14 Reviews
How partisan politics lead to the Civil War

What brought about the Civil War? Leading historian Michael F. Holt convincingly offers a disturbingly contemporary answer: partisan politics. In this brilliant and succinct book, Holt distills a lifetime of scholarship to demonstrate that secession and war did not arise from two irreconcilable economies any more than from moral
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ebook, 184 pages
Published June 20th 2005 by Hill and Wang (first published 2004)
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David R.
Jan 06, 2012 David R. rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A surprisingly robust account of the lead up to the War Between the States. Holt does a splendid job recounting and interpreting the political movements from the 1840s through 1860 and in so doing makes clear the explanations for the destruction of the Whigs and the decimation of the Democrats. There is one glaring weakness. Holt suggests in his introduction that he means for the work to serve as a warning to contemporary politicians, but never makes clear why, nor does he offer any explanation ...more
Hillary Borders
Nov 27, 2016 Hillary Borders rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Read for Jacksonian America.
David Nichols
Michael Holt's stated purpose in writing this book – really a long essay with appended documents – is to remind modern Americans that the decisions their lawmakers make, be they ever so petty or venial, have much greater consequences than they realize, or than social historians are willing to admit. Taking as his subject the approach of the American Civil War in the 1840s and '50s, Holt observes that several of the most important causes of that war were legislative and political acts, whose auth ...more
David Withun
Jan 08, 2013 David Withun rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: history
The description on the back cover describes this book as "succinct." That is certainly an understatement. Barely achieving 150 pages even with its larger-than-average font and nearly double-spaced lines as well as a lengthy appendix, I read the entirety of this book in a single evening. While most readers probably won't finish it in a single night, I think most will find this a very quick read.

That being said, I think most readers will also find this book fits the other descriptive word offered
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Dan
Aug 15, 2015 Dan rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2015
Finally got around to reading this short book, which was a nice overview of the politics of my old area of American history. Nothing here was too groundbreaking, though I thought he did a very solid job of explaining the importance of the short-lived Know Nothings, who really did have a major impact in the way things shook out in the mid-1850s.

The major question, which this book really does not answer, is the counterfactual. Would a more responsible leadership class have prevented the war and re
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William Kerrigan
Well written, brief political history of the coming of the Civil War. One of the long debates among historians of the Civil War has been the question, "Was the Civil War an inevitable/irrepressible conflict, or might it have been avoided. Holt sides with those who see the war as avoidable, and lays the blame at the feet of a generation of incompetent and/or self-serving politicians. While he does an effective job noting the ways in which political leaders intentionally or unintentionally fanned ...more
Denise Kettering
This book is an introduction only to the political issues and conflicts leading up to the Civil War. It does not attempt to be a comprehensive history. If you are interested in a more detailed treatment, read Holt's tome, The Rise and Fall of the American Whig Party. However, as a quick introduction, this book will acquaint readers with the key tensions that developed over time. Persons interested in 19th century American history will find this an interesting and relatively easy and quick read.
Sharon
Feb 10, 2013 Sharon rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This was a bitch to read, mostly because it was packed with so much detail and this is an especially complex period in history. But Holt makes a powerful argument that the politics leading up to the war contributed to its outbreak.
Sean Chick
Jan 13, 2012 Sean Chick rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Basically an advanced textbook on the slave controversy's most salient point: expansion. Holt rarely gives us a feel for the men involved (a failing of his and other "bloodless" historians) but the events are described fairly, accurately, and without undue verbiage.
Fred R
Jun 09, 2012 Fred R rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
An able summary of the period, but it would require a more serious and in-depth work to make a convincing argument for the author's theory (with which I have some sympathy) that the Civil War was more contingent, and less inevitable, than is commonly assumed.
Kat
Dec 03, 2013 Kat rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
A little biased, but whateves.
He used to teach at UVA.
Tommy
Nov 28, 2016 Tommy rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Read more like a long essay than a book.
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