Review by Choice Review
Academic historians frequently tend to focus too narrowly on their subjects and use so much jargon that their books become irrelevant to the nonacademic audience. Fortunately, Mintz has avoided these pitfalls in this well-written, attention-grabbing synthesis of the antebellum reform movement in the US. What Mintz lacks in terms of usual format for historical studies (there are no specific citations, i.e., footnotes, to support his narrative), he compensates for in his broad choice of topic. Quite simply, Mintz looks at all of the reform movements that commenced in the decades leading up to the Civil War. These include moral reform efforts to spread Christianity and end sinful behavior, such as prostitution and drinking; humanitarian reform efforts "to alleviate ... crime, disease, and ignorance" and care for the insane and handicapped; and finally, radical reform efforts to perfect society by abolishing slavery, obtaining equal rights for women, and creating utopian societies as paradigms for a better world. In casting a wide net Mintz makes accessible to readers of all levels a good, solid historical study comparing all of these important movements. J. M. Lewis; University of Arkansas at Little Rock
Copyright American Library Association, used with permission.