Ecstatic Nation by Brenda Wineapple
Confidence, Crisis, and Compromise, 1848-1877 (American History)

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In other words, Wineapple gives us history as it feels in real time: full of plans that backfire, schemes foiled by chance, outliers who suddenly change everything...Its message is delivered through its vivid portrayal of the human side of an era, following the roiling tides of emotions — erratic, shifting and ultimately overpowering.
-NY Times

Synopsis

A New York Times Notable Book of 2013

A Kirkus Best Book of 2013

A Bookpage Best Book of 2013

Dazzling in scope, Ecstatic Nation illuminates one of the most dramatic and momentous chapters in America's past, when the country dreamed big, craved new lands and new freedom, and was bitterly divided over its great moral wrong: slavery.
 
With a canvas of extraordinary characters, such as P. T. Barnum, Walt Whitman, Frederick Douglass, and L. C. Q. Lamar, Ecstatic Nation brilliantly balances cultural and political history: It's a riveting account of the sectional conflict that preceded the Civil War, and it astutely chronicles the complex aftermath of that war and Reconstruction, including the promise that women would share in a new definition of American citizenship. It takes us from photographic surveys of the Sierra Nevadas to the discovery of gold in the South Dakota hills, and it signals the painful, thrilling birth of modern America.

An epic tale by award-winning author Brenda Wineapple, Ecstatic Nation lyrically and with true originality captures the optimism, the failures, and the tragic exuberance of a renewed Republic.

 

About Brenda Wineapple

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Brenda Wineapple is the prize-winning author of several books, including White Heat: The Friendship of Emily Dickinson and Thomas Wentworth Higginson, a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award and a New York Times Notable Book. A regular contributor to the New York Times Book Review and The Nation, she teaches in the MFA programs at The New School University and Columbia University's School of the Arts, and she is Doris Zemurray Stone Professor of Modern Literary and Historical Studies at Union College. She lives in New York City.
 
Published August 6, 2013 by Harper. 741 pages
Genres: History, War. Non-fiction
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Critic reviews for Ecstatic Nation
All: 4 | Positive: 4 | Negative: 0

NY Times

Good
Reviewed by David S. Reynolds on Aug 09 2013

In other words, Wineapple gives us history as it feels in real time: full of plans that backfire, schemes foiled by chance, outliers who suddenly change everything...Its message is delivered through its vivid portrayal of the human side of an era, following the roiling tides of emotions — erratic, shifting and ultimately overpowering.

Read Full Review of Ecstatic Nation: Confidence, ... | See more reviews from NY Times

WSJ online

Good
Reviewed by Daniel Walker Howe on Nov 22 2013

"Confidence, Crisis, and Compromise"—themes enumerated in Ms. Wineapple's subtitle—are all addressed with subtlety. Most relevant to our own historical moment is her theme of compromise..."Ecstatic Nation" is varied, original and engaging from cover to cover. All in all, this is a magnificent read for history lovers.

Read Full Review of Ecstatic Nation: Confidence, ... | See more reviews from WSJ online

Washington Times

Good
Reviewed by Alec Rogers on Apr 22 2014

Most odd in a book that so clearly recognizes the importance of photographic technology in shaping the period is that it lacks a single image. These are minor failings in what is a vastly successful enterprise, however...

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LA Times

Above average
Reviewed by Scott Martelle on Aug 09 2013

Wide in scope and deep in detail, Wineapple's book moves with great control from abolitionist Boston to the Lincoln White House to crucial battle sites and then on to the unsettled West. The writing drags a bit here and there...The result can be a confusing mish-mash of characters and opinions that can take a couple of passes to digest.

Read Full Review of Ecstatic Nation: Confidence, ... | See more reviews from LA Times

Reader Rating for Ecstatic Nation
87%

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