1877 : America's year of living violently /
Michael A. Bellesiles.
New York : The New Press, 2010.
xiv, 386 p.
1595584412 (hc. : alk. paper), 9781595584410 (hc. : alk. paper)
More Details
New York : The New Press, 2010.
1595584412 (hc. : alk. paper)
9781595584410 (hc. : alk. paper)
contents note
On the edge of a volcano -- Seeking white unity -- Bringing order to the West -- The terror of poverty -- The great insurrection -- Homicidal nation -- Breaking the spell.
catalogue key
Includes bibliographical references and index.
A Look Inside
Full Text Reviews
Appeared in Choice on 2010-12-01:
Bellesiles (Central Connecticut State Univ.) writes that 1877 was arguably the most violent year in US history in which the country was not involved in a war. Striving to put the events of 1877 into a national context and avoid the usual overemphasis on the east coast, the author details the violence surrounding those events and the search for social order. In anecdotal fashion, Bellesiles chronicles the violence in each region of the country, including the white supremacists in the South, the Indian wars on the Great Plains, and a major railroad workers strike that nearly crippled the country. The crux of Bellesiles's argument rests in the way Americans struggled to understand and come to terms with the new post-Civil War social order. In doing so, the author argues that a creative explosion of inventors and artists took place, but was overshadowed by Americans' tendencies for violent resolutions to problems. Rebounding from past controversies (e.g., his discredited Arming America, CH, Feb'01, 38-3484), Bellesiles is able to create a wonderful read that is sure to appeal to those interested in the challenges of creating a post-Civil War society. Summing Up: Highly recommended. All levels/libraries. M. A. Byron Young Harris College
Appeared in Publishers Weekly on 2010-05-31:
If you think the United States has problems today, try 1877. That single year, according to historian Bellesiles, saw an unprecedented surge in lynchings, racism, homicides, army attacks on Indians, labor violence (including a near national general strike), quack theories to explain it all, and a political crisis whose resolution on the backs of African-Americans scarred the nation until Johnson's Great Society. Offering a thorough review of this crisis-ridden year, Bellesiles, author of the controversial Arming America, makes the case that 1877 was also a year of breakthroughs in thought and creativity (Thomas Edison made the first voice recording, and Wannamaker's, the first department store, opened). But it is the violence that preoccupies the author, and he attributes it at least in part to Americans, in the midst of a depression, struggling "to come to terms with their new industrial society...." No reader will come away from this sobering work without a greater understanding of violence so extreme that contemporaries and numerous historians have commented on it (one historians called it "a symbol of shock, of the possible crumbling of society"). It's not easy reading, but it is solid, deeply informed history. (Aug.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved
Appeared in Library Journal on 2010-07-09:
Emphasizing that America, despite its professed ideals, has an enduring legacy of antagonism toward "the other," the controversial Bellesiles (Arming America: The Origins of a National Gun Culture) turns to a time of intense social, cultural, and intellectual turmoil in America. This was the year of the Great Railroad Strike, but Bellesiles also considers the impact of the disputed 1876 presidential election, the end of Reconstruction, economic depression, battles between the army and Plains Indians, and entrepreneurial events such as the forming of the Bell Telephone Association. Thus, he faces the challenge of making the case for one year being historically pivotal, even transformative. He sketches villains and heroes, famous and obscure, from Crazy Horse, Susan B. Anthony, and E.L. Godkin to the surprisingly radical Rutherford B. Hayes, women's health pioneer Mary Putnam Jacobi, and Louisiana black political activist Henry Adams, with the goal of letting them speak for themselves. He contends that class replaced race as the main area of American social conflict. Verdict Interested, discerning readers with backgrounds in history are invited to examine this work, which combines thematic, narrative, and interpretive strains, revealed in pungent and subjective phrasing. It can be compared to older titles such as Robert V. Bruce's 1877: Year of Violence and Philip Foner's The Great Labor Uprising of 1877.-Frederick J. Augustyn Jr., Library of Congress (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
This item was reviewed in:
Publishers Weekly, May 2010
Library Journal, July 2010
Booklist, August 2010
Choice, December 2010
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Bowker Data Service Summary
Featuring a cast of iconic historical characters, this is the story of a year that transformed the United States. Already deep in depression, the country was wracked by massed & increasingly violent industrial unrest while in the Southern States, mob violence ousted the remaining liberal governments of the Reconstruction period.
Main Description
A decade after the Civil War, the United States was not only gripped by a deep depression, but was also in the throes of nearly unimaginable upheaval. In "1877," historian Bellesiles reveals that the fires of that fated year also fueled cultural and intellectual innovation.
Main Description
In 1877, a decade after the Civil War, not only was the United States gripped by a deep depression, but the country was also in the throes of nearly unimaginable violence and upheaval marking the end of the brief period known as Reconstruction and a return to white rule across the South. In 1877, celebrated historian Michael Bellesiles reveals that the fires of that fated year also fueled a hothouse of cultural and intellectual innovation, with a flamboyant cast of characters from Billy the Kid to John D. Rockefeller.
Table of Contents
Acknowledgmentsp. vii
Prefacep. ix
On the Edge of a Volcanop. 1
Seeking White Unityp. 21
Bringing Order to the Westp. 62
The Terror of Povertyp. 110
The Great Insurrectionp. 144
Homicidal Nationp. 191
Breaking the Spellp. 226
Notesp. 283
Indexp. 373
Table of Contents provided by Ingram. All Rights Reserved.

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