Pulitzer Prize, History, 2008
In this addition to the esteemed Oxford History of the United States series, historian Daniel Walker Howe illuminates the period from the Battle of New Orleans to the end of the Mexican-American War, an era of revolutionary improvements in transportation and communications that accelerated America's expansion and prompted the rise of mass political parties.
He examines the rise of Andrew Jackson and his Democratic party but contends that John Quincy Adams and other advocates of public education, economic integration, and the rights of blacks, women, and Indians were the true prophets of America's future.
Howe's panoramic narrative - weaving together social, economic, and cultural history with political and military events - culminates in the controversial but brilliantly executed war against Mexico that gained California and Texas for America.
Please note: The individual volumes of the series have not been published in historical order. What Hath God Wrought is number V in The Oxford History of the United States.
Listen to more of the definitive Oxford History of the United States.
©2007 Oxford University Press, Inc.; (P)2009 Blackstone Audio, Inc.
"One of the most outstanding syntheses of U.S. history published this decade." (Publishers Weekly)
"He is a genuine rarity: an English intellectual who not merely writes about the United States but actually understands it." (Washington Post)
"A stunning synthesis....it is a rare thing to encounter a book so magisterial and judicious and also so compelling." (Chicago Tribune)
l'enfer c'est les autres
I did not realize how interesting or nuanced American history was during this period of time. The author tells the history while never boring, but at times the players got more complex than any science book because the categories don't always neatly fit into today's way of thinking about things. There just too many good stories to be told and he tells them. The author gives the political top down story, but never forgetting the bottom up approach and looking at the individuals who make up the whole.
The country was not a monolithic beast able to only hold one thought in its mind at a time. Even when we did wrong (slavery, Native American removal and extermination, women discrimination, wars of expansion, and so on), there were large undercurrents who spoke up against it.
The real dichotomy throughout the book is the value of the individual as weighed against the good of the society as a whole. The characters and the stories being told never ceased to awe the listener. The author also really gave large sections on the history of religion at the time and why it was so important for the development of the country at that time. The Millennialism Movement was widely believed and contributed to the belief of American Exceptionalism and even helps pave the way for Abraham Lincoln. My only regret with the book, is he didn't take me all the way up to 1860.
I would definitely recommend this book. The more we understand where we came from the more we can understand where we are going. There is a reason why some politicians want to end Advanced Placement History from high schools and not let students read books like this one. History does not always tell our story such that we are always exceptional, always in the right, or that we have a manifest destiny. History is much more nuanced (and interesting) than cable news, talk radio or some blogs would have you believe.
An old broad that enjoys books of all types. Would rather read than write reviews though. I know what I like, and won't be bothered by crap.
This is a long book at about 34 hours but worth the time it took to listen. I knew little about the time period of 1815-1848 in the history of our country which is a shame because lots of things happened in this timeframe. This won the Pulitzer Prize in 2008 and is one of the Oxford History of America series.
I have seen people claim a liberal bias in this book. I can't say I saw that but it is harsh on conservative darling Andrew Jackson with good reason. He destroyed the banking system, disregarded the Supreme Court rulings, and shipped the Cherokee and other natives off to the reservations in the infamous Trail of Tears. Polk doesn't get much sympathy from him either. The Mexican War seems to have been a more unpopular war than even Viet Nam. We were the aggressor in that one.
I think it is important to read many histories on the same topics and get a well rounded picture instead of only reading Glenn Beck or Bill O'Reilly's histories.
John Quincy Adams is the hero of this book. He wasn't a very good President but he was a wonderful statesman who stood up for the underdog (Amistad) and never quit. In fact, he died giving a speech on the Mexican War in the House of Representatives.
This book covers a lot of religious history. The Mormon's, the Great Enlightenment, the Second Great Enlightenment, the start of the Shakers, the Oneida Cult, the Transcendentalist movement, the Baptist, the Seventh Day Adventist all began in this period. It takes up many chapters in this book but is necessary to understand what was happening in the country.
I also learned how European white male centered this country was and how this affected the way we treated Hispanics, Blacks (slave and free), Catholics, Jews and women. Thank goodness we have grown into our Constitution.
Samuel Morse's first telegram to Congress was the quote "What hath God wrought" which the author made the title of his book. He emphasized the great transportation and communication changes that came about in these few years.
The narrator was fine for the most part except for his few pronunciation errors in words like "Willamette" that could be jarring at times.
A great overview of this time period and well worth the time.
One master-passion in the br east, like Aaron's serpent, swallows all the rest. A. Pope
This is part of the definitive Oxford History of the United States. So, how in the world can the publisher decide to skimp on the narration of the audiobook version by hiring an AUTOMATON??? For what it sounds like, I could just as well be listening to a presentation of the United States Internal Revenue Code, Verbatim.
I just don't get it.
The book's content is excellent, and it had to be to keep me interested, given the terrible production. Looking back, I wish I'd read it instead of listening to it since the production is so poor.
Often when we read about US history we jump from the Revolution to the Civil War, maybe with a nod to the War of 1812. But this book explains how understanding the period it covers is vital to understanding the maturation of the country and the events, particularly the Civil War, that followed.
The reader's voice is excellent, and assuming the infuriating problems in the production aren't his fault, I'd listen to him again.
Yes: to scream at my mp3 player and to curse Audible for the terrible production that ruined a great book. Does anyone at Audible read these reviews? Many others have commented on this problem, how do you dare to continue offering this? Obviously the original recording was corrupted somehow and then apparently patched together. Sometimes a different reader fills in for a sentence or two, or even for just a part of a sentence. Often the reader speeds up, sometimes his reading speed is fine (suggesting that it wasn't his fault, but the production's). Apart from speed, at times his cadence is all over the place so there's no pause between sentences, forcing the listener to divert attention from the book while reconstructing the sentences in one's head.
Audible, someone on your staff should listen to this production. Not just for a minute or two, but for hours, since some parts are fine, which makes the bad sections (which are most of the book) all the worse. Do you really want to put your name on this terrible production? I realize it would be expensive to produce a new reading, but if don't want to spring for that can't you at least re-mix this somehow? Perhaps slow the reader down in the passages where he sounds like he can't wait to finish? If you won't do that, at least give a warning up front that the production is bad. I wish I'd read more of the reviews that described this problem; that was my mistake, but you should warn your customers. I've listened to hundreds of audio books and this is by far the worst production I've ever heard.
The content was great. This book covers a wider range of different areas of history (social, economic, government, religion, etc.) than any other history book I've listened to or read.
I think Patrick Cullen's voice is great. But the "performance" was terrible. I don't think Patrick was to blame here. This seems to be a purely technical issue in the post processing. I don't know if they did a lot of editing and overdubbing, or what. But it almost sounds like two different people were narrating and they were switching randomly between the two. It also seems hurried, but again, it doesn't sound like Patrick actually read it that way, i.e. perhaps some part of the processing was trying to reduce inter word gaps or something. This is by far the worst production I've come across in an audiobook. I was able to adapt to it mostly after a while, and I enjoyed the content enough to continue to endure through it to the end. But I wish they would go back to the original recordings and fix this.
First, the recording is fine. Yes, there are places where there has been a substitution of a cleaned up sentence during the editing process, but overall the quality of expression to convey meaning of very complex material is outstanding. Also, the pace is just right, moving briskly through a very long book but short of losing your ability to follow. An excellent narrator.
This is a truly outstanding book of history and is a perceptive analysis of the transformation of American politics, culture, technology, and social relations from 1812 to 1848. Howe covers every aspect of life in America, weaving the strands in and out of the changing fabric. He makes many complex political machinations at state and national levels comprehensible. Most valuable, Howe explains how so many of the substantive, regional, and interest group positions and blocs arose in early America and became embedded in the platforms of Democratica and Whig parties.
His deep analysis and no doubt his own background mean that Howe comes down clearly on the side of the Whigs, arguing that the Democrats commitment to defending slavery, via insistance on state's rights, as well as their opposition to federally coordinated internal improvements, a national bank, and similar programs aimed at strengthening the nation as a whole led to Civil War and caused much hardship. He makes strong cases for Henry Clay and John Quincy Adams as the true heroes of the age. But he does balance this with intermittant summings up of the narrowly-defined strengths of Democratic presidents and congressional leaders, as in Andrew Jackson's resistance to nullification.
The book does not just treat pure politics and traditional historical topics, but also gives thorough coverage to the rise of myriad religious groups, transcendentalism, abolitionist and early women's rights steps, the post office, telegraph and railroad, and other important topics. His treatment is nuanced, avoidng simplistic explanations of character, regions, or relationships.
The only shortcoming, in my opinion, is a historian's fall into exhaustive miliatary history in the chapters on the Mexican American War. There is no need for logistical and strategic detail at this level to move the overall narrative forward.
I wish many more Americans could read this book--more than a few would be surprised at events and opinions during that age
Molly Nash Larson
From the opening dedication to the final word of the narration, I found this book to be without equal as a history of a time period. It covers all aspects of American life from the close of the War of 1812 to the end of the Mexican War. Because of the scope of coverage, one learns of the religious, political, economic, and technological advances and other changes shaping the era.
Howe dedicates the book to John Quincy Adams and I have a new admiration for him. I found it difficult to hold Jackson in esteem; the development of the Democratic Party I found saddening but certainly inevitable.
I have listened to this book three times now and expect I'll do it again as each listening gives me new insight and appreciation for just how much our forefathers accomplished.
I bought the book for my son as a gift and I do look forward to being able to discuss it with him.
This is a really solid history of a sometimes overlooked of American history. However, as others have noted, the audio editing is very poor at times. The narrator is quite gifted, but the editing should have had more attention. Overall, I was able to tolerate that enough to enjoy the story
solid history. the author is an amazing talent to weave such rich political, economic, religious, and social group histories into a full tapestry of America during this time.
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