Review by Choice Review
Clark (Univ. of Connecticut) offers a readable survey of a large swath of US social history, beginning with the "partial modifications" of society during the Revolution and ending with the failures of Reconstruction. He argues that instead of being deviations of the national trends, regional differences--labor institutions, most notably--were the central components of the national debate regarding the US nation and character. While Clark does well to convey and support that argument throughout, his account comes across as more of a textbook or synopsis of the period than a synthesis of it: the overuse of subtitles within chapters, which often break up the narrative, and the cursory coverage of certain aspects are two areas that limit this as an effective synthesis. In particular, his treatment of the experiences of early republican women and antebellum free blacks, as well as technological change and society, are lacking. Overall, this is a slim volume, considering the period and events that it covers. Nevertheless, it does fill (partially) a gap left by previous efforts at synthesizing US history, which have largely neglected this period. Most applicable to survey courses. ^BSumming Up: Recommended. General and undergraduate collections. M. D. Bergmann Randolph-Macon College
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