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Performing Disunion
The Coming of the Civil War in Charleston, South Carolina

$30.00 USD

Part of Cambridge Studies on the American South

  • Date Published: May 2018
  • availability: This ISBN is for an eBook version which is distributed on our behalf by a third party.
  • format: Adobe eBook Reader
  • isbn: 9781316887004

$ 30.00 USD
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About the Authors
  • This book traces how and why the secession of the South during the American Civil War was accomplished at ground level through the actions of ordinary men. Adopting a micro-historical approach, Lawrence T. McDonnell works to connect small events in new ways - he places one company of the secessionist Minutemen in historical context, exploring the political and cultural dynamics of their choices. Every chapter presents little-known characters whose lives and decisions were crucial to the history of Southern disunion. McDonnell asks readers to consider the past with fresh eyes, analyzing the structure and dynamics of social networks and social movements. He presents the dissolution of the Union through new events, actors, issues, and ideas, illuminating the social contradictions that cast the South's most conservative city as the radical heart of Dixie.

    • Blends together analysis and narrative to examine the everyday choices of ordinary men at street level, offering a radically new explanation of the causes of the American Civil War using a micro-historical approach
    • Introduces a group of unstudied events, actors, ideas, and problems that broaden and enrich our understanding of the internal contradictions that drove the South to secession
    • Works to reconstruct the social context in which young Charlestonians enacted disunion, analyze the dynamics of those performances, and discover the common core of what they thought their actions meant
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    Reviews & endorsements

    'Written with flair, this highly original, richly detailed, and analytically acute book on secession in Charleston, South Carolina is one of the best accounts of disunion on the ground. A must-read for anyone interested in the social, cultural, political, material, and intellectual history of the Old South. It is micro-history at its best.' Manisha Sinha, author of The Counterrevolution of Slavery: Politics and Ideology in Antebellum South Carolina

    'In this highly original, unusually conceived, unconventional, and deeply researched study, Lawrence T. McDonnell focuses a wide lens on Charleston life on the eve of Civil War, revealing the undercurrents, contradictions, and utter lunacy of the cradle of disunion. There is no other study of secessionism quite like Performing Disunion. McDonnell's book will become required reading for all those interested in the riddle of southern extremism.' William A. Link, University of Florida

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    Product details

    • Date Published: May 2018
    • format: Adobe eBook Reader
    • isbn: 9781316887004
    • availability: This ISBN is for an eBook version which is distributed on our behalf by a third party.
  • Table of Contents

    Introduction: politics, chess, hats
    Part I. Context: The Citadel Besieged:
    1. Envisioning Charleston
    2. Wayward loyalties
    3. Bone and sinew
    4. The threat of the counterfeit
    5. The semblance of safety
    6. Rose of revolution
    Part II. Contradictions: Stand Nobly Together:
    7. The appearance of a solid column
    8. War of factions
    9. Carry out the great drama
    10. Men well-tried and true
    11. The noble game
    12. The soul of chivalry
    13. Nothing but cash
    14. The measure of a man
    15. A revolution in hats
    Part III. Crisis: Fire and Sword:
    16. One of the b'hoys
    17. A true index of character
    18. Heroes, one and all
    19. One wind lifts many flags.

  • Author

    Lawrence T. McDonnell, Iowa State University
    Lawrence T. McDonnell is an Assistant Professor in the History Department at Iowa State University.

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