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

3.46 of 5 stars 3.46  ·  rating details  ·  68 ratings  ·  10 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
ebook, 184 pages
Published June 20th 2005 by Hill and Wang (first published 2004)
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David R.
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
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
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
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.
Fred R
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.
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.
Too opinionated to be a top-notch historical account, though worth it just to read the appendices.
A little biased, but whateves.
He used to teach at UVA.
Tom Mackie
Very short treatment of his huge Whig history
Aflalo marked it as to-read
Feb 25, 2015
Josh Zeringue
Josh Zeringue marked it as to-read
Jan 24, 2015
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Jun 04, 2014
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Franklin Pierce (The American Presidents, #14) The Rise and Fall of the American Whig Party: Jacksonian Politics and the Onset of the Civil War The Political Crisis of the 1850s By One Vote: The Disputed Presidential Election of 1876 (American Presidential Elections) Political Parties and American Political Development: From the Age of Jackson to the Age of Lincoln

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