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)
This is yet another excellent book from the Oxford U.S. History Series. I felt like David Walker Howe jumps around more than the authors of the other books within the series, neither using a thematic nor narrative approach to telling the story of the Jacksonian period. But all of the information is there, and the writing is good. Howe really demonstrates how much things change in U.S. society, politics and culture from 1815-1848. You'll have to stomach a substantial amount of religion in the book, but with the Second Great Awakening, religion is pivotal to the period, and it impacts other areas as well.
My biggest problem with the audiobook is narration/editing that borders on disastrous at times. Necessary pauses are removed; a different narrator will randomly appear in mid-paragraph, or even mid-sentence; and the main narrator isn't really that good to begin with. Most of the books in this series are narrated by Robert Fass, who's outstanding. The book on the Depression/WWII is narrated by Tom Weiner, who's peerless. Somehow the publishers swung and missed on this one, and unfortunately, the poor audio made following and enjoying the book more difficult.
I have listened to many history books from Audible, and have enjoyed the vast majority of them. This is the first one I couldn't complete. I almost gave up on it a couple of times but stuck with it, but just couldn't go on by the time I was about 3/4 of the way through. Though there was certainly a lot of interesting content, the book's and the audio's faults became too much to bear.
Though I expect some bias from virtually every historian, I do still expect them to provide a reasonably balanced perspective. Though I am not a fan of Andrew Jackson, the author's treatment of him is very one-sided. The author also obviously takes a great personal interest in American religious history and drones on for too long and in too much detail. Though it's an important topic, it could have been covered more successfully in much less time and detail. I appreciate that the author doesn't gloss over the suffering and injustice that minorities and Native Americans experienced, but again it's very one-sided.
Regarding the audio, the narration and editing of this audio book is the worst I have heard. The narrator speaks in a monotone and his acute enunciation is unnatural and becomes annoying. There were frequent short edits throughout the audio that were jarring because of the change in tone, timbre and volume. This was the worst audio editing of any audio book I've listened to, and I've listened to many.
I expect better of the Oxford series and have enjoyed other titles in the series. This volume was a disappointment and makes me hesitant to purchase any others.
Maybe it's the timeframe... Or maybe it's the writing. This book jumps all over the place, failing to keep any narative alive for very long. The author uses the barest of segues to move rapidly from topic to another. I feel like I never got any in-depth knowledge about anything.
The narator exacerbates this with badly pieced-together snippets of reading. The tone of voice changes radically as he picks the book back up and then switches a couple sentences later. At some points it feels like the audio editor was trying to remove "white space" like you hear in some radio ads, trying to get as much in as possible in 30 seconds.
When I first began listening to this book my knowledge of the period was limited and the amount of information overwhelmed me to the point of regretting having purchased this volume. The narrator did not help much as I found him to be too monotonic but I battled through it. After reading and listening to other works and familiarizing myself with the period I went back for a second listen and found the narrative much more enjoyable and the narrator did not bore me. It's a great book, almost encyclopedic in nature. If you are looking for a book that gives lot's of information but don't mind it given to you in a dry monotonic style then I highly recommend this book.
I listen to audio books that I want to read but won’t unless I have them on i-pod during my commute. This was a wonderful history very applicable to today’s political climate - well written and performed (though I could hear some editing jumps, but a very small critique). Definitely worth the time to fill in all the missing pieces from high school American History classes. Will now be able to bore my friends at parties about how the Marines got “the halls of Montezuma” in their song.
How well an audible book is read is an important factor in its success. The reader for this one reads too fast and the vocal punctuation makes it difficult to listen to. It's unfortunate because it's sister volume "Empire of Liberty" was superb. I may not even finish listening to "What Hath God Wrought (Unabridged)". It is that bad
The narrator even read out the sub-chapter section numbers. Basically it comes across as a professor simply reading a text book. Only saving grace is that it's historically accurate.
The high level of detail, information on prominent personalities, and many quotes from the personal journals and letters of more average people of the era.
No. It is a very long, very detailed book. If that appeals to you then you might like it. Most people I know like things to move along more quickly.
The verbal highlighting of some details and points that might have otherwise been buried in a dense text such as this one.
The author has an obvious bias, which nearly caused me to quit listening about 30 minutes in, but I decided that since it was so obvious, I would be able to mentally filter the facts from the propaganda. Overall it is a very detailed look at an often neglected, but formative portion of American history.
The book was an easy read but had such detailed analysis of events and personalities that you had to stay focused. A bit disjointed in places but overall an effective tool in understanding a very confusing time of American History.
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