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This book provides a comprehensive overview of US history from the end of the War of 1812 to just after the admission of California to the Union. The ebb and flow of politics provides the main narrative framework for the book, into which Howe weaves detailed discussions of the competing social, economic, religious and technological forces that slowly transformed the coastal states of the founders into a continent-spanning empire riven by internal disputes that would erupt in the Civil War and reverberate for more than a century after. Howe makes the entire era come alive by drawing on a wide variety of primary sources, from census data to the writings contemporary diarists and newspaper accounts, and incorporating many engaging quotes.
This would be a perfect listen for an avid student of American history, since it covers a frequently overlooked period (overlooked, I would add, for reasons which Howe discusses at length towards the end of the book) were it not for the truly horrible quality of the recording. The narrator is overall quite good, but the editing is probably among the worst I have ever encountered. There are noticeable jumps in audio quality and speed throughout, sometimes even within the same sentence. These imperfections are substantial enough that at times I found myself listening more to the atrocious mixing than the actual content, which was a shame.
23 of 23 people found this review helpful
I am a casual history fan and I've always had trouble keeping track of the Taylor's and the Tyler's in the first half of the 19th century. This book is comprehensive, well-read and detailed, sometimes to the point where it can be hard to follow, especially if you listen while commuting. There are many themes, and he jumps back and forth between them. I found myself backing up several times to make sense of things, but it was not too much of a chore. As the author says in the conclusion, he is telling a story, not asserting a thesis--this type of history I think is the most fun to listen to. I never found it tiresome, and that is a lot to say about a book this long. The other reviewer is correct, there were a lot of changes in the recording, sometimes in the middle of a sentence. While this is unusual in audiobooks, I did not find it very distracting.
27 of 28 people found this review helpful
This is indeed another excellent volume in this series. And I was looking forward to listening to it. But as others have said, the reading seems to have undergone some sort of compression. Perhaps some automated process, which removes natural pauses in the reading and seems to speed it all up. Consequence is overwhelming and unpleasant.
Reader actually does a good job and has an attractive voice. Its the production at fault. This book should be removed from Audible until publisher has produced the reading properly !!
"What Hath God Wrought: The Transformation of America, 1815 - 1848" by Daniel Walker Howe, read by Patrick Cullen is a good audiobook. Patrick Cullen reads it clearly.
The content of the book is, for the most part, a good explanation of the political and cultural changes in the US from 1815 to 1848. The judgements in it seem fair, like the judgement that the American colonists treated the Indians very shabbily and the US government didn't do much about this through a mixture of weakness and lack of concern for the Indians' rights.
Somewhat less good is the book's treatment of economics. The author takes for granted the idea that central banking and government spending money to prop up the economy during recessions. He doesn't argue that this is true, he just accepts it. And he's wrong. Central banking is a bad idea because it doesn't allow for voluntary adjustment of the money supply: instead the supply of money is adjusted by government fiat. The government pumping out money to "help" people during a recession is also a bad idea as it makes it more difficult for goods and services to be shifted out of the lines of production that are no longer profitable. See the works of George Selgin and Lawrence White on free banking and "Theory of Money and Credit" by Ludwig von Mises.