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For most of the audiobook Bagby reads in the straight third-person mode, that of the historian author describing characters and scenes and themes and events. In this Bagby excels: he is disciplined, energized, and authoritative. But the common man — and the political broadsiders stroking his passions — are about to have their day. As the historical weave expands and the plot of political passions thickens, Bagby’s expressive and emotional ranges expand. It is when the political broadsiders begin their cannonades that the listener has the joy of Bagby sounding their written and verbal booms.
What opened the gates to this transformative historical era? The answer is in the depths of Parson’s study. But here’s who turned the key: Andrew Jackson supporter Martin Van Buren (a.k.a. The Little Magician) who created the political organization that in 1828 became the Democratic Republican Party (renamed the Democratic Party in 1832). It was the first party of the masses (of white men) that was formed at a time when the standards for political enfranchisement were expanding to include the non-land owning classes and shifting from presidential voting by state legislators to voting by the people via the Electoral College. The two-party system that resulted turned on its head the founding fathers’ injunction to avoid the destructive influences of party factions. The United States had entered The Age of Jackson. —David Chasey
Lynn Hudson Parsons argues that it also established a pattern in which two nationally organized political parties would vie for power in virtually every state. During the election of 1828 voters were introduced to a host of novel campaign tactics, including coordinated media, get-out-the-vote efforts, fund-raising, organized rallies, opinion polling, campaign paraphernalia, ethnic voting blocs, "opposition research," and smear tactics.
In The Birth of Modern Politics, Parsons shows that the Adams-Jackson contest began a national debate that is eerily contemporary, pitting those whose cultural, social, and economic values were rooted in community action for the common good against those who believed the common good was best served by giving individuals as much freedom as possible to promote their own interests. It offers fresh and illuminating portraits of both Adams and Jackson and reveals how, despite their vastly different backgrounds, they had started out with many of the same values, admired one another, and had often been allies in common causes. Both were staunch nationalists, and both shared an aversion to organized parties and "electioneering."But by 1828, caught up in a shifting political landscape, they were plunged into a competition that separated them decisively from the Founding Fathers' era and ushered in a style of politics that is still with us today.
The “Pivotal Moments in American History” series seeks to unite the old and the new history, combining the insights and techniques of recent historiography with the power of traditional narrative. Each title has a strong narrative arc with drama, irony, suspense, and – most importantly – great characters who embody the human dimension of historical events. The general editors of “Pivotal Moments” are not just historians; they are popular writers themselves, and, in two cases, Pulitzer Prize winners: David Hackett Fischer, James M. McPherson, and David Greenberg. We hope you like your American History served up with verve, wit, and an eye for the telling detail!
Customer ReviewsMost Helpful
By D. Littman on 01-29-10
a very good popular history book
This book is a perfect, short, well-read, light history of the first quarter of the 19th century in America, with a particular focus on the period 1820-1828, and the rivalries among John Quincy Adams (a highly educated scion of the Adams family), Andrew Jackson (a "wild & crazy" guy of his day) and such secondary characters as William Crawford, John Calhoun, Martin Van Buren. Colorful characters, a colorful period too. If you like popular US history, you will most assuredly like this.
The narration is very good.
9 of 9 people found this review helpful
By Keith Storrs on 10-26-11
This book encapsulates a point in time where things changed concerning elections in America. The author does a great job of setting this book up, so the reader gets the benefit of learning a lot about Early America after the war of 1812. Good stuff, go for it.
3 of 3 people found this review helpful