American Civil Wars: A Continental History, 1850-1873 (Hardcover)

American Civil Wars: A Continental History, 1850-1873 By Alan Taylor Cover Image
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A masterful history of the Civil War and its reverberations across the continent by a two-time Pulitzer Prize winner.

In a fast-paced narrative of soaring ideals and sordid politics, of civil war and foreign invasion, the award-winning historian Alan Taylor presents a pivotal twenty-year period in which North America’s three largest countries—the United States, Mexico, and Canada—all transformed themselves into nations. The American Civil War stands at the center of the story, its military history and the drama of emancipation the highlights. Taylor relies on vivid characters to carry the story, from Joseph Hooker, whose timidity in crisis was exploited by Robert E. Lee and Stonewall Jackson in the Union defeat at Chancellorsville, to Martin Delany and Mary Ann Shadd Cary, Black abolitionists whose critical work in Canada and the United States advanced emancipation and the enrollment of Black soldiers in Union armies.

The outbreak of the Civil War created a continental power vacuum that allowed French forces to invade Mexico in 1862 and set up an empire ruled by a Habsburg archduke. This inflamed the ongoing power struggle between Mexico’s Conservatives—landowners, the military, the Church—and Liberal supporters of social democracy, led ably by Benito Juarez. Along the southwestern border Mexico’s Conservative forces made common cause with the Confederacy, while General James Carleton violently suppressed Apaches and Navajos in New Mexico and Arizona. When the Union triumph restored the continental balance of power, French forces withdrew, and Liberals consolidated a republic in Mexico.

Canada was meantime fending off a potential rupture between French-speaking Catholics in Quebec and English-speakers in Ontario. When Union victory raised the threat of American invasion, Canadian leaders pressed for a continent-wide confederation joined by a transcontinental railroad. The rollicking story of liberal ideals, political venality, and corporate corruption marked the dawn of the Gilded Age in North America.

About the Author

Alan Taylor, twice awarded the Pulitzer Prize in History, is the author of American Revolutions and American Republics, prior volumes in his acclaimed continental history of the United States. He is Thomas Jefferson Foundation Professor of History at University of Virginia, and lives in Charlottesville, Virginia.

Praise For…

Given the momentous events and delicious cast of characters, as well as the two-time Pulitzer winner’s masterful storytelling skills, it’s no surprise that the book is nearly impossible to put down.
— Kirkus Reviews (starred review)

American Civil Wars demonstrates, as no previous work has, the great political transformations sweeping all of North America during the middle of the nineteenth century. With a geographical frame embracing Canada and Mexico as well as the United States, Alan Taylor once again challenges and deepens our historical perspective.

— Steven Hahn, author of Illiberal America: A History

From its first map showing the United States of America and the Confederate States of America bordered not only by each other but also by the Republic of Mexico, British Canada, and Indian Territory, American Civil Wars shifts our perspective to reveal the US Civil War in the context that everyone at the time understood to involve multiple sovereignties in North America debating and fighting over territory, slavery, sovereignty, and democracy. This is a gripping and deeply important addition to the magisterial Alan Taylor collection.

— Kathleen DuVal, author of Native Nations: A Millennium in North America

With his trademark erudition, Alan Taylor illuminates the great conflicts that rocked Canada, Mexico, and the United States. He shows how these foundational national struggles, while unique, arose from similar tensions over state and national power and ended in greater federal authority.
— Andrés Reséndez, author of The Other Slavery: The Uncovered Story of Indian Enslavement in America

A truly North American history of the defining political crises of the nineteenth century. . . . A must-read for all Civil War aficionados.
— Manisha Sinha, author of The Rise and Fall of the Second American Republic: Reconstruction, 1860–1920
Product Details
ISBN: 9781324035282
ISBN-10: 1324035285
Publisher: W. W. Norton & Company
Publication Date: May 21st, 2024
Pages: 560
Language: English