RaveThe Wall Street JournalAlthough [Thomas\'s] focus is comparatively narrow—the western shore of Maryland and Prince George’s County in particular (a part of Maryland that abuts Washington, D.C.)—he reveals a remarkable struggle for freedom, one buoyed at first by new aspirations in the broader culture and later doomed by rekindled fears ... Mr. Thomas’s valuable and provocative book follows a constellation of freedom suits over nearly 70 years ... Mr. Thomas, a history professor at the University of Nebraska, brings a clear and sensitive eye to the tangled relationship of black and white Americans in the early 19th century.
Heather Cox Richardson
MixedThe Wall Street Journal... a short, provocative assault on conservatism and the Republican Party ... a book that, while lucid and jargon-free, too often feels tacked together and lacking in the intellectual heft that characterizes her academic work ... Dissenters from Ms. Richardson’s own somewhat apocalyptic vision, likely including the vast majority of Republicans, might point out that where she sees a malign conspiracy to undermine American democracy they see, these days, a landscape of rupture and realignment, the ultimate shape of which is far from clear. Ms. Richardson’s haste to score political points too often leaves nuance, and sometimes accuracy, behind ... Her pummeling hyperbole will probably confirm both like-minded and skeptical readers in their assumptions and prompt less reflection than it should among those whom she presumably hopes to convert.
RaveThe Wall Street JournalZucchino offers a gripping account of one of the most disturbing, though virtually unknown, political events in American history ... a grim but fascinating story, and an instructive one ... Mr. Zucchino welds probing research and a crisp writing style into a dramatic rendering of events, and he goes on to show their ramifications for African-Americans across the South ... Mr. Zucchino’s narrative toggles skillfully between the city’s black community and the activities of the white insurrectionists ... Thanks to Mr. Zucchino’s unflinching account, we now have the full, appalling story. As befits a serious journalist, he avoids polemics and lets events speak for themselves ... it is books such as these, not least Wilmington’s Lie, that have redeemed the truth of post-Civil War history from the tenacious mythology of racism.
PositiveThe Wall Street Journal... vividly conjured ... a richly researched and engagingly written biography ... While Mr. Gallay strives commendably to see the colonial experiment in America from the Indian point of view, he tells us frustratingly little about how the Irish felt about their coerced assimilation. This lacuna is all the more puzzling in a book that reaches so effectively beyond simple biography in its effort to plumb the character of an age.
PositiveThe Wall Street Journal... short, closely argued ... This is not entirely new intellectual territory, but Mr. Foner makes his case with brio and erudition ... Acute though Mr. Foner’s analysis of the postwar amendments is, readers unfamiliar with the larger political context might want to turn either to Mr. Foner’s own magisterial Reconstruction: America’s Unfinished Revolution, 1863-1877 (1988) or to Douglas R. Egerton ’s excellent The Wars of Reconstruction”(2014).
W. Caleb McDaniel
RaveThe Wall Street Journal... superbly written ... [McDaniel] deftly integrates court records with fine-grained background stories of Wood’s enslavers and lawyers, all the while presenting a panorama of antebellum and post-Civil War America ... The story itself is rich with vivid personalities and unexpected turns ... While Mr. McDaniel barely refers to the present-day push for reparations, he amply demonstrates that the generation of men and women who escaped slavery deserved far better from America than they got.
PositiveThe Wall Street JournalExcessive attention to organizational details sometimes threatens to overburden Mr. Postel’s narrative. But he manages to keep his account lucid, engrossing and lively, helped along by his decision to hitch it to leading figures in each of the movements ... As all three movements challenged vested interests and often heroically pushed for \'equality,\' they mostly shunned black Americans, a story that Mr. Postel unpacks in compelling and disheartening detail.
RaveThe Wall Street Journal\"Ms. Churchwell delivers more than an exercise in literary archaeology. In crisp prose driven by impressive research in period newspapers, speeches and correspondence, she shows Americans wrestling over the very meaning of their nation ... [Churchwell\'s] enlightening account is a valuable contribution to the never-ending debate over fundamental American values and a provocative reminder that troubling impulses may lurk beneath seemingly anodyne sloganeering and inspiring rhetoric.\
RaveThe Wall Street JournalIn The Woman’s Hour, a gripping account of those fraught and steamy days in Nashville, Elaine Weiss delivers political history at its best ... she writes with verve and color that captures the feverish excitement of a moment when, whatever the outcome, every woman and man packed into Tennessee’s imposing statehouse knew that history was about to be made. With a skill reminiscent of Robert Caro, she turns the potentially dry stuff of legislative give-and-take into a drama of courage and cowardice, showing the pain of compromise and the power of substantive debate in an age when rhetoric was still an art and political discourse still aimed to persuade ... Too long neglected by historians, the campaigners who swarmed Tennessee’s statehouse have been splendidly served by Ms. Weiss’s engrossing narrative.
Joel Richard Paul
RaveThe Wall Street Journal\"[Mr. Paul] has crafted a scholarly but highly readable and often entertaining chronicle that embeds Marshall among the leading lights of the nation’s founding generation, humanizing him along the way … The work of the Marshall court appropriately forms the core of Mr. Paul’s book. His elucidation of its decisions—over 1,100, more than half of them written by Marshall—is refreshingly crisp and unhobbled by jargon … Marshall is justly celebrated as the most far-sighted justice ever to lead the Supreme Court. His lasting achievements are ably served by Mr. Paul’s deeply felt and penetrating biography.\
RaveThe Wall Street JournalIn the course of Mr. White’s overarching political and economic narrative, he draws sharp portraits of the men and women who peopled the Gilded Age. He is especially good at bringing color to the era’s monochromatic politicians ... Mr. White manages to make even the development of urban sewage and water systems engrossing through his deft interweaving of engineering challenges, hard-nosed city politics and shifting social values ... His gimlet-eyed views of capitalism are often on display in The Republic for Which It Stands, as are his ingrained sympathies for workers over speculators and Native Americans over the politicians and business interests that decided their fate. But Mr. White is too careful a historian to lapse into crude polemics or to sacrifice nuance for the sake of an agenda. If he is sometimes excessively caustic in his judgment of corporate behavior, he nonetheless renders the formation of a Gilded Age America—in all its social and economic tumult—with the complexity it deserves.
RaveThe New York Times Book Review...a vividly written, wide-ranging and often surprising account of the president-to-be ... Blumenthal follows Lincoln’s circuitous journey into the Republicans’ embrace with an acute eye for the nuances of political rhetoric and the tactics of the committee room. He offers rich insight into strategic maneuvering in an era that relished politics both as the founders’ greatest gift to a free people and as an often ferocious blood sport. At a time when Americans may fantasize returning to a kinder and gentler style of politics, Blumenthal reminds us that every age has been fraught with anxiety and dread, and that in government, times are always tough, and the future uncertain.
RaveThe Wall Street Journal\"[a] comprehensive and often revelatory history of American abolitionism from its origins in early colonial New England to its triumphant advance into the mainstream of the Republican Party before the Civil War.\