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I knew almost nothing about the Jacksonian era in American history before listening to this. Reynolds is mostly positive about Jackson's influence on democratic politics (small "d") while deploring his attitudes toward slavery and his "ethnic cleansing" of Native Americans. The political campaigns are all here, but even more than that, Reynolds gives a fascinating overview of cultural trends: the new religions, the new novelists and poets and philosophers (Hawthorne, Emerson, Melville), and the painters; and the new technology (telegraph, railroad, the Erie Canal). There is more than a dash of "spice" here as well, with discussions of hucksters, showmen, alcohol consumption, and sexual practices.
As a novice in the period, I don't have any opinion about how complete Reynolds' account is. What I CAN say is that it's very well written, competently narrated, and absorbing throughout. I'm looking forward to the audiobook version of "What Hath God Wrought" (due out next year), which covers the same period and which friends of mine have highly recommended. It will be interesting to compare the two.
4 of 4 people found this review helpful
Of the many excellent historical books now available on Audible, this is one of the best. Reynolds provides a panoramic view of life in the first half of the 19th century. His account weaves together the politics, mores, religious ferment, medical and cultural aspects of life in this era. The medical details were of particular interest to this 88 year old listener. During the 20s my mother used the practice of "blistering" - mustard plasters - for chest colds and anything else. Calomel - a poisonous mercury purgative was still employed. Medicine really didn't change much until the first real antibiotic, sulfanilamide, was developed in the 1940s. A fascinating and meticulously researched book.
1 of 1 people found this review helpful