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Publisher's Summary

The Oxford History of the United States is the most respected multivolume history of the American nation. In the newest volume in the series, The Republic for Which It Stands, acclaimed historian Richard White offers a fresh and integrated interpretation of Reconstruction and the Gilded Age as the seedbed of modern America. 

At the end of the Civil War the leaders and citizens of the victorious North envisioned the country's future as a free-labor republic, with a homogenous citizenry, both black and white. The South and West were to be reconstructed in the image of the North. Thirty years later Americans occupied an unimagined world. The unity that the Civil War supposedly secured had proved ephemeral. The country was larger, richer, and more extensive but also more diverse. Life spans were shorter, and physical well-being had diminished, due to disease and hazardous working conditions. Independent producers had become wage earners. The country was Catholic and Jewish as well as Protestant and increasingly urban and industrial. The "dangerous" classes of the very rich and poor expanded, and deep differences - ethnic, racial, religious, economic, and political - divided society. The corruption that gave the Gilded Age its name was pervasive. 

These challenges also brought vigorous efforts to secure economic, moral, and cultural reforms. Real change - technological, cultural, and political - proliferated from below more than emerging from political leadership. Americans, mining their own traditions and borrowing ideas, produced creative possibilities for overcoming the crises that threatened their country. 

In a work as dramatic and colorful as the era it covers, White narrates the conflicts and paradoxes of these decades of disorienting change and mounting unrest, out of which emerged a modern nation whose characteristics resonate with the present day. 

©2017 Richard White (P)2018 Audible, Inc.

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  • Magyar
  • The Universe
  • 07-06-18

THIS IS WHAT HISTORY IS ABOUT!

I love the Oxford series and have been rarely disappointed. White's study of the period of 1865-1896 is a deep insightful work that artfully balances the tension between "what really happened" and "presentism". Granted, this is a huge era to cover and it is left to the historian as artist to decide on what aspects, personages and themes to highlight and which ones would remain in the shadows. I have read many accounts of the Gilded Age and this one adds a whole new dimension of my understanding. I particularly like his using "the home" and "contract labor" as organizing themes from which to structure the more detailed accounts.

In a study that attempts to cover such a large topic, it is understandable that some things would be minimized or left out. Aside from Grant's desire to annex Santo Domingo, there is little attention to foreign policy. He emphasized at the end that the United States then was (and is) part of a global system, but little discussion of how trade and political relations with the European powers created a context for the changes of the period.
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One could criticize him for trying to make this era very relevant to our current times. The discussion of the Supreme Court at the end can be read (and may have been written) with the current situation in mind. (July 2018). I don't see that necessarily as a fault as he does it with the skillfulness of a mature historical scholar. Perhaps 50-100 years from now, this book will be read as an "interpretation " (re: Macaulay's The History of England),but that is what keeps the field of history alive.

Regarding the reading, at first I found it a little bit too fast. I could see that for those who are unfamiliar with the people and events of this period, such a reading could be off putting. I slowed the reading speed to .75 and listened to that for a while. However I eventually found that too slow and went back to the original speed. I got used to it. After all this is a long book (almost 35 hours).

6 of 6 people found this review helpful

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Be wary of narrator

The content is excellent, but the narrator speaks too quickly given the density of material to ponder and comprehend. I switched to 0.75x speed in the audible app and that was a bit too slow, but I got used to it after awhile and it is preferable to 1x speed. The narrator at times speaks more quickly than the sample and he does not pause at all after a lengthy, dense sentence. I’m curious if others find this to be true.

18 of 20 people found this review helpful

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performance is unlistenable...robotic

could not listen beyond introduction...don't bother with this one it is horrible...too bad book seems promising

4 of 4 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars

Great book, terrible reading

The content is a deeply-thought examination of a period that gets too little press. However, the man reading it does his best to imitate a poorly-programed programed robot.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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This book taught me that the big issues back then are very much still with us.

A must if you are a serious reader of the aftermath of the civil war. Excellent!

1 of 2 people found this review helpful

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  • Ep
  • 07-13-18

Comprehensive and full of great details

White explains how America was changed from 1865 to 1899 by technology, industry, immigration, political party interests, special interests, a new class of powerful oligarchs, and a new Supreme Court that was friendly to big corporations and property rights along with the role the KKK and disregard of Indian rights created an America of wage workers and salary men instead of independent free laborers.

The women’s rights movement and the evangelical movement are thoroughly considered as well

Fantastic

1 of 2 people found this review helpful

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A historical view of history by today' standards.

I liberal historian looking at history thru the glass of today....... it doesn't work. You can't go back and rewrite history.

9 of 31 people found this review helpful