To be honest, to get the most out of this book, the reader probably needs some knowledge of the American Civil War. It would also help to know a bit about early American philosophy and psychology. However, if the reader remains patient, Menand eventually fills in the missing details.
Overall, the Metaphysical Club is a very well written and complex history of a fascinating group of thinkers.
The reader consistently mispronounces the name of one of the main historical characters. Charles Peirce is pronounced /ˈpɜrs/ like "purse"; Can't a paid reader take the time to look something like that up?