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Mahoney examines how members of the middle class from small cities across the great West were transformed by boom and bust, years of recession, and civil war. He argues that in their encounters with national economic forces, the national crisis in politics, and the Civil War, middle class people were cut adrift from the social identity that they had established in the 'face to face' communities of the 'hometowns' of the urban West. By grounding them in their hometown ethos, and understanding how the Panic of 1857 and the subsequent recession undermined their lives, the author provides important insights into how they encountered, responded to, and were changed by their experiences in the Civil War. Providing a rare view of social history through the framework of the Civil War, the author documents, in both breadth and depth, the dramatic change and development of modern life in nineteenth-century America.Read more
- Provides a more comprehensive storyline that makes the Civil War understandable from a social perspective
- Addresses a key storyline in American nineteenth-century history - the transition from smaller cities to metropolis and from traditional community based social life to modern society
- Fills the gap in Midwest history, in the history of the middle class and in the history of nineteenth-century America
Reviews & endorsements
'Mahoney is more careful, attentive, and respectful to these largely forgotten Midwesterners than any other scholar has been. There are some real gems in this book, ranging from his characters’ search for political positions amid economic collapse to their learning the ways of bureaucracy within the impersonal northern military machine.' Robert D. Johnston, The Annals of IowaSee more reviews
'… this book provides an intimate examination of this region and the people living in it and offers a much-needed counterbalance to eastern or southern-centric social histories of the Civil War. It would be profitably read by anyone interested in Midwestern history, the history of the Civil War, and the eternally interesting topic of America’s evolving middle class.' Brian Schoen, The Michigan Historical Review
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- Date Published: May 2016
- format: Hardback
- isbn: 9781107122697
- length: 504 pages
- dimensions: 236 x 160 x 28 mm
- weight: 0.7kg
- contains: 13 b/w illus.
- availability: In stock
Table of Contents
Part I. Hometown:
1. 'You are home folk' - hometown and the middle class
2. 'What will become of our town?' - the rise and fall of the booster ethos, 1856–60
3. 'Hard… and revolutionary times' - the crisis of the middle class, 1858–61
4. 'God bless the good old town' - constructing trans-local communities in the 1850s
Part II. Battlefield:
5. 'It is all the talk in town' - the booster ethos and struggle for Main Street, 1860–1
6. 'Almost sacred and hallowed ground' - civil war as spatial narrative
7. 'The boys of 61' - the social order of company and regiment
8. 'The 'inner' and 'outer' man' - encountering 'military ways and means'
9. 'Civil war in our midst' - waging war at home and abroad, 1862–5
Epilogue - 'scattering to the four ends of the Earth' - 'the old town' and the middle class.
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