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Books

Book review

‘Ecstatic Nation’ by Brenda Wineapple

The loaf of American history is rarely sliced this way: one end at the revolutionary year of 1848, when women rebelled in New York, gold was discovered in California, and John Quincy Adams, the last tie to the Revolutionary period, expired in Washington; and the other in 1877, when America was unrecognizable to antebellum eyes, having grown in size, stature, and style and having purged slavery but not bigotry.

But Brenda Wineapple has cut off this chunk of mid-century America to examine, seeing in it closure and opening both, a period of exuberance and energy but also struggle and savagery, a time of imagination and industry but also introspection and impatience.

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