Madness Rules the Hour by Paul Starobin
Charleston, 1860 and the Mania for War

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“Madness Rules the Hour,” Paul Starobin’s fast-paced, engagingly written account of the hysteria that descended on lovely Charleston — where the unthinkable became the inevitable — is as much a study in group psychology as it is in history.
-NY Times

Synopsis

"The tea has been thrown overboard-the revolution of 1860 has been initiated." --Charleston Mercury, November 8, 1860
In 1860, Charleston, South Carolina, embodied the combustible spirit of the South. No city was more fervently attached to slavery, and no city was seen by the North as a greater threat to the bonds barely holding together the Union. And so, with Abraham Lincoln's election looming, Charleston's leaders faced a climactic decision: they could submit to abolition--or they could drive South Carolina out of the Union and hope that the rest of the South would follow.
In Madness Rules the Hour, Paul Starobin tells the story of how Charleston succumbed to a fever for war and charts the contagion's relentless progress and bizarre turns. In doing so, he examines the wily propagandists, the ambitious politicians, the gentlemen merchants and their wives and daughters, the compliant pastors, and the white workingmen who waged a violent and exuberant revolution in the name of slavery and Southern independence. They devoured the Mercury, the incendiary newspaper run by a fanatical father and son; made holy the deceased John C. Calhoun; and adopted "Le Marseillaise" as a rebellious anthem. Madness Rules the Hour is a portrait of a culture in crisis and an insightful investigation into the folly that fractured the Union and started the Civil War.
 

About Paul Starobin

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Paul Starobin is a staff correspondent for the National Journal and a contributing editor to The Atlantic Monthly. He was Moscow bureau chief for BusinessWeek from 1999 to 2003 and has also written for The New York Times, The Washington Post, Los Angeles Times, and National Geographic.
 
Published April 11, 2017 by PublicAffairs. 296 pages
Genres: History, War. Non-fiction
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Critic reviews for Madness Rules the Hour
All: 3 | Positive: 3 | Negative: 0

Kirkus

Excellent
on Feb 21 2017

A dramatic and engaging addition to Civil War studies that serves as a fitting bookend paired with Jay Winik’s account of the end of the war, April 1865 (2001).

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Washington Times

Above average
Reviewed by Aram Bakshian Jr. on Apr 25 2017

...in 1860, the pivotal year that Paul Starobin depicts in his gripping new narrative history, the placid surface of the city, with its population of 23,376 whites, 13,909 slaves and 3,237 “free persons of color,” was deceptive.

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NY Times

Good
Reviewed by David Goldfield on Apr 21 2017

“Madness Rules the Hour,” Paul Starobin’s fast-paced, engagingly written account of the hysteria that descended on lovely Charleston — where the unthinkable became the inevitable — is as much a study in group psychology as it is in history.

Read Full Review of Madness Rules the Hour: Charl... | See more reviews from NY Times

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