A Nation Rising : Untold Tales of Flawed Founders, Fallen Heroes, and Forgotten Fighters from America's Hidden History
In the dramatic period that spans roughly from 1800 through 1850, the United States emerged from its inauspicious beginning as a tiny newborn nation, struggling for survival and political cohesion on the Atlantic seaboard, to a near-empire that spanned the continent. It was a time in which the "dream of our founders" spread in ways that few men of that Revolutionary Generation could possibly have imagined. And it was an era that ultimately led to the great, tragic conflagration that followed--the American Civil War.
The narratives that form A Nation Rising each exemplify the "hidden history" of America, exploring a vastly more complex path to nationhood than the tidily packaged national myth of a destiny made manifest by visionary political leaders and fearless pioneers. Instead, Davis (whose writing People magazine compared to "returning to the classroom of the best teacher you ever had") explores many historical episodes that reverberate to this day, including
* Aaron Burr's 1807 trial, showcasing the political intrigue of the early Republic and becoming one of our nation's first media circuses
* an 1813 Indian uprising and an ensuing massacre that exposes the powerful conflicts at the heart of America's expansion
* a mutiny aboard the slave ship Creole and the ways in which the institution of slavery both destroyed lives and warped our nation's founding
* the "Dade Massacre" and the start of the second Seminole War, a long, deadly conflict between Indian tribes, their African American allies, and the emergent U.S. Army
* the bloody "Bible Riots" in Philadelphia, demonstrating how deadly anti-immigrant sentiment could be
* the story of Jessie Benton Fr�mont and Lt. John C. Fr�mont, a remarkable couple who together helped open the West, bring California into the Union, and gave literal shape to the nation today
The issues raised in these intertwined stories--ambition, power, territorial expansion, slavery, intolerance, civil rights, freedom of the press--continue to make headlines. The resulting book is not only riveting storytelling in its own right, but a stirring reminder of the ways in which our history continues to shape our present.
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May 11, 2010
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