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Waking Giant: America in the Age of Jackson Hardcover – 1 Oct 2008

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4.1 out of 5 stars 24 reviews from Amazon.com

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 466 pages
  • Publisher: Harper; 1 edition (Oct. 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0060826568
  • ISBN-13: 978-0060826567
  • Product Dimensions: 15.2 x 3.7 x 22.9 cm
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,726,814 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Review

"A lively account. . . . Reynolds devotes close to half the text to an illuminating appreciation of the Jacksonian influence on literature and art, with shorter discussions on religion and popular fads."--The Boston Globe

"Offers a fine addition to the literature on pre-Civil War American history in this account of the years 1815-1848. . . Even knowledgable readers will relish the chapters on social history. . . . Reynolds delivers a straightforward, insightful history of America during its bumptious adolescence."--Publishers Weekly

"A really good volume of history provides the reader with a keen sense of perspective and a genuine appreciation of the past. This is exactly what David S. Reynolds does in Waking Giant: America in the Age of Jackson."--BookPage

"It's Reynolds's depiction of an exploding popular culture that makes Waking Giant an unmitigated delight. . . . An intellectual history and group portrait of America turning from a republic to a popular democracy during the Age of Jackson."--Douglas Brinkley, The Washington Post Book World

"Kaleidoscopic. . . . The result of Reynolds' research is a happy mosaic of an era that may well be, just as the author suggests, the 'richest' in American history."--The Wall Street Journal

"An engaging new book. . . . Waking Giant is at its most entertaining when Reynolds sifts through the nonpolitical world, tracking the rise of abolitionists, feminists, utopians, union leaders, and more than a few crackpots."--The Christian Science Monitor

"A remarkable synthesis, impressive on many levels. . . . Reynolds applies his vast erudition to a period too often treated as mere prelude to the country's most destructive war. . . . Reynolds is most adept handling the period's art and literature. . . ."--Kirkus Reviews (starred review)

"Reynolds writes history as entertainingly as anyone out there and Waking Giant is no exception."--The Providence Journal

"Mr. Reynolds brings this remarkable man to life. . . . A terrific introduction of succinct length to a period in our history that was once ignored, a period increasingly recognized as a time when the foundations of much of modern America were laid."--John Steele Gordon, The New York Times

"Reynolds asks us to more carefully consider the brawling, chaotic, boisterous years from 1815 to 1848 as a fascinating age in its own right. In this he succeeds handsomely. . . . Engaging and insightful."--Jay Winik, The New York Times Book Review

"Bancroft Prize winner Reynolds has produced a thorough chronicle of America from 1815 to 1848. . . . His book will appeal to general history buffs and American studies students. Highly recommended."--Library Journal

"As David Reynolds shows in his astute and concise history of the period, Waking Giant, the times defined Jackson as much as he defined the times."--Slate

It s Reynolds s depiction of an exploding popular culture that makes Waking Giant an unmitigated delight. . . . An intellectual history and group portrait of America turning from a republic to a popular democracy during the Age of Jackson. --Douglas Brinkley, The Washington Post Book World"

Mr. Reynolds brings this remarkable man to life. . . . A terrific introduction of succinct length to a period in our history that was once ignored, a period increasingly recognized as a time when the foundations of much of modern America were laid. --John Steele Gordon, The New York Times"

As David Reynolds shows in his astute and concise history of the period, Waking Giant, the times defined Jackson as much as he defined the times. --Slate"

A remarkable synthesis, impressive on many levels. . . . Reynolds applies his vast erudition to a period too often treated as mere prelude to the country s most destructive war. . . . Reynolds is most adept handling the period s art and literature. . . . --Kirkus Reviews (starred review)"

Offers a fine addition to the literature on pre-Civil War American history in this account of the years 1815-1848. . . Even knowledgable readers will relish the chapters on social history. . . . Reynolds delivers a straightforward, insightful history of America during its bumptious adolescence. --Publishers Weekly"

Bancroft Prize winner Reynolds has produced a thorough chronicle of America from 1815 to 1848. . . . His book will appeal to general history buffs and American studies students. Highly recommended. --Library Journal"

A really good volume of history provides the reader with a keen sense of perspective and a genuine appreciation of the past. This is exactly what David S. Reynolds does in Waking Giant: America in the Age of Jackson. --BookPage"

Kaleidoscopic. . . . The result of Reynolds research is a happy mosaic of an era that may well be, just as the author suggests, the richest in American history. --The Wall Street Journal"

A lively account. . . . Reynolds devotes close to half the text to an illuminating appreciation of the Jacksonian influence on literature and art, with shorter discussions on religion and popular fads. --The Boston Globe"

Reynolds writes history as entertainingly as anyone out there and Waking Giant is no exception. --The Providence Journal"

Reynolds asks us to more carefully consider the brawling, chaotic, boisterous years from 1815 to 1848 as a fascinating age in its own right. In this he succeeds handsomely. . . . Engaging and insightful. --Jay Winik, The New York Times Book Review"

An engaging new book. . . . Waking Giant is at its most entertaining when Reynolds sifts through the nonpolitical world, tracking the rise of abolitionists, feminists, utopians, union leaders, and more than a few crackpots. --The Christian Science Monitor"

Excellent. . . . Outstanding. . . . Expansive. . . . Jackson and his presidency figure large in Reynolds account. --The Philadelphia Inquirer"

"Excellent. . . . Outstanding. . . . Expansive. . . . Jackson and his presidency figure large in Reynolds' account."--The Philadelphia Inquirer --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From the Back Cover

America experienced unprecedented growth and turmoil in the years between 1815 and 1848. It was an age when Andrew Jackson redefined the presidency and James K. Polk expanded the nation's territory. Bancroft Prize-winning historian and literary critic David S. Reynolds captures the turbulence of a democracy caught in the throes of the controversy over slavery, the rise of capitalism, and the birth of urbanization. He brings to life the reformers, abolitionists, and temperance advocates who struggled to correct America's worst social ills, and he reveals the shocking phenomena that marked the age: violent mobs, P. T. Barnum's freaks, all-seeing mesmerists, polygamous prophets, and rabble-rousing feminists. Meticulously researched and masterfully written, Waking Giant is a brilliant chronicle of America's vibrant and tumultuous rise.

--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Amazon.com: 4.1 out of 5 stars 24 reviews
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Engaging Survey of a Wondrous Era 24 Nov. 2011
By William C. Breihan - Published on Amazon.com
Verified Purchase
I had thought David Walker Howe's "What Hath God Wrought: The Transformation of America, 1815-1848" (2007) was the final word on this period of U.S. history. But having read Reynolds' excellent study of Whitman, I decided to give "Waking Giant" a chance. I was not disappointed. Walker's work is more comprehensive than Reynolds' - going deeper into the political and especially economic changes of the period. Reynolds' strong suit is social and cultural history. After reading chapter 4, "God's Many Kingdoms" - a fascinating journey through the religious upheavals of the time - I thought, this is the author's most solid contribution; this chapter alone makes the book. Then I read the following two chapters on reform movements, literature, the arts, fads, inventions - overall, a notably rich cultural survey. This is not to suggest that "Waking Giant" is merely a cultural history of the Jackson era. Over half the book is devoted to politics, and here the treatment is more than just competent. I gained several new insights into the phenomenon that was Jackson. Calhoun and Webster become a little more comprehensible. If Walker leans toward the Whigs, Reynolds is more of a Jackson man, presenting a sympathetic appraisal of a historically controversial figure. I offer one criticism of the book: Reynolds' writing style - though fluid, lively, rich, engaging - could here and there benefit by some minor editing.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars a superb survey book of the first half of the 19th century in America 7 Jun. 2012
By John E. Drury - Published on Amazon.com
Verified Purchase
David Reynolds, a preeminent historian, brings together many of his writings (Whitman, John Brown, George Lippard) in this survey of 19th century America in the Age of Andrew Jackson. Calling the period one of the most culturally rich in our history, while his focus is on presidential politics (Jackson, Van Buren, Harrison, Tyler, Polk), Reynolds also describes the age's pervasive Christian religiosity, its penetrating literature (Emerson, Thoreau, Melville, Hawthorne, Whitman) and its exquisite artistry (Allston, Cole), its eccentricities, foibles and its failed struggle between the abolitionists (Garrison and others), and the Southern leaders (Calhoun and others) to confront and abolish slavery in America. Reynolds is a fine writer, never pushy, never over stressing his points, who cameos many of the major figures between 1815 and 1848. Survey books, like Reynolds', are launching pads for further reading and study and this book is surely that. He gives the reader an extensive, up-to-date bibliography of other more detailed histories.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Good General History 28 Oct. 2011
By P. R. Smith - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
If you are not familiar with the period 1815 to 1848, this is a good general history of the era. Some topics are covered in just a couple of paragraphs, in which cases a bit more detail would have been helpful. I think the author tried very hard to give a balanced view of controversial topics such as Indian removal and slavery, which I think adds to the quality of the book. As a general history this is very informative and a good introduction. I am just starting with the 1815-48 era and am glad I read this book as it has provided topics that I can seek out for greater detail in other books.
3 of 5 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Added balance to my understanding of the age of Jackson 17 Sept. 2013
By Roanld Tenney - Published on Amazon.com
Verified Purchase
I bought this book a few years ago when I was in a Jacksonian America phase of reading. It is hard not to contrast this book with "What Hath God Wrought: The Transformation of America, 1815-1848" by Daniel Walker Howe.
When I began reading Waking Giant, I found myself making negative comparisons to this book compared to What Hath God Wrought. Thankfully, I pressed on. In terms of information, Waking Giant is not as complete or exhaustive a history. However, there are some stories that Reynolds tells better than Howe.

The real benefit for me in reading Waking Giant was to get contrasting perspectives on various aspects of the characters and events that made this the most dynamic period in American history. Reynolds is far more sympathetic to Jackson, Van Buren, Polk and the democratic movement. Howe is more inclined to John Quincy Adams and holds Jackson in lower regard. (My own sympathies are in line with Daniel Howe - Jackson has more to condemn that to applaud.)

In one area of their comparative histories that I am well-informed about, that of the rise of Mormonism, there is no comparison who is the superior scholar. Howe has a far better grasp of the beginnings of my religion than Reynolds. I assume this is likely true of his history of many of the spiritual movements that stirred America around the time of the Second Great Awakening.
As has been pointed out by others, Reynolds has a special interest in the literature and art of this period. His chapter on this aspect of American History is fine. I am personally less interested in this, so it is not a big plus for me.
I strive for balance when forming my opinions. This book was a wonderful addition to the insights I had gathered from other sources.
0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars 17 Feb. 2016
By Dawn Morton - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
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