U.S. Intellectual History Blog

Petrulionis reviews Heather Cox Richardson’s WEST FROM APPOMATTOX

Heather Cox Richardson. West from Appomattox: The Reconstruction of America after the Civil War. Yale University Press, 2007. (Cloth) ISBN: 978-0-300-11052-4

Credible Perspective, Irresistible Narrative, and Coherent Causality
A review by Joe Petrulionis

When James Harvey Robinson lent his valuable endorsement to a younger colleague’s new textbook aimed at the freshman American History course, his “Editorial Preface” described what he considered to be the attributes of his generation’s “New History.” Robinson’s views of what history should do might be considered blatant present-ism by many of today’s more conservative scholars. Robinson insisted that “New History,” should not only re-narrate the events of the past, but it should explain how the contemporary world turned out as it has. History is about today (1). Heather Cox Richardson offers a vivid history of today’s America; along the way she treats us to a compelling argument for focusing first on the Reconstruction era.

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