The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 85, July 1981 - April, 1982 Page: 225
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dispensable to an understanding of the Civil War era. Such a view
has been challenged in recent times, a fact that Foner considers in a
trenchant introduction to the collection. Interest in a host of new
"social" concerns (Foner's quotation marks), the advent of the com-
puter as a tool for historical research, the popularity of what has been
dubbed the "new social history," the vogue for "modernization the-
ory," have all, in their own ways, discouraged the study of politics and
the history of ideas. Scholarship has been fragmented and a narrow-
ness of vision has resulted until, in Foner's words, "the ideal of re-
creating history as a lived experience [seems] more remote than ever"
(p. 6). Indeed, the study of the Civil War itself suffered decline because
the war, affecting every aspect of American life, is "unintelligible if
divided into the various subcategories of contemporary historical in-
quiry" (p. 6). These essays reflect Foner's continuing quest for a new
historical synthesis, one that will "reintegrate the political, social, and
intellectual history" (p. 9) of the Civil War period. A further theme
unites these studies, a theme that Foner believes helps to explain all
of nineteenth-century development: "the contradiction between re-
publican thought and the expansion of capitalist production and mar-
ket relations which transformed every aspect of American life" (p. io).
The tension between America's republican ideology and the demands
of the marketplace continues to challenge Americans, defying resolu-
tion, thus lending a timeliness to this book.
Foner's essays are grouped in three broad categories: "Origins of
the Civil War," "Ambiguities of Anti-Slavery," and "Land and Labor
After the Civil War." Opening with his well-known and highly infor-
mative historiographic review of the causes of the Civil War (which
ends on a note of "tragic irony," that "each side fought to defend a
distinct vision of the good society, but each vision was destroyed by
the very struggle to preserve it" [p. 33]), the collection includes
(among others) a perceptive restatement of the importance of politics
and ideology to the origins of the war; a discussion of the complex
relationship between the antislavery movement and the antebellum
labor movement; a persuasive analysis of the centrality of the question
of free labor to Reconstruction politics; and a study of the conjunction
of "class, ethnicity, and radicalism" (p. 151) in the late nineteenth-
century Irish Land League. Those who are interested in viewing the
issues of the Civil War era in broad perspective will find ample re-
wards in this volume.
University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign
ROBERT W. JOHANNSEN
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Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 85, July 1981 - April, 1982, periodical, 1981/1982; Austin, Texas. (texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth101208/m1/259/: accessed August 19, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Texas State Historical Association.