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The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 85, July 1981 - April, 1982

Book Reviews
The Imperiled Union. By Kenneth Stampp. (New York: Oxford Uni-
versity Press, 1980. Pp. xv+32o. Preface, notes, index. $15.95.)
Kenneth M. Stampp, professor of history at the University of Cali-
fornia at Berkeley, has done much to reorder historians' interpreta-
tions of significant themes. It is his distinction to challenge influential
views head-on and successfully revise them. In three major books he
has carried most of the profession with him. Where he has been less
persuasive-on the thorny issues of the coming of the Civil War-he
is sage enough to be diffident.
An early book, And the War Came, in great detail exonerated Abra-
ham Lincoln from the charge made by Charles W. Ramsdell of the
University of Texas that the president deliberately maneuvered the
Confederates into firing the first shot at Fort Sumter. Six years later,
in 1956, Stampp brought out his most important book, The Peculiar
Institution. It immediately replaced the long-influential pro-Southern,
racist interpretation of American Negro slavery expounded by Ulrich
B. Phillips. A quarter of a century later it remains the best one-volume
work on its subject.
A third book, The Era of Reconstruction, published in 1965, called
to account the school of Reconstruction historiography associated with
William A. Dunning. Stampp in this book found little to admire in
President Andrew Johnson, much to admire in the Radical Republi-
cans, and gave sympathetic attention to Negro rights. The author in
the present book acknowledges that several of his interpretations are
quite different from the views he, and most historians, held thirty
years ago.
This book contains essays previously published and two written
especially for this collection. The essays possess an uncommon unity
for a venture of this kind because they share the theme of the back-
ground of the Civil War. The book has four subthemes: the concept

Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 85, July 1981 - April, 1982. Austin, Texas. The Portal to Texas History. Accessed May 5, 2016.

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