Empire of Liberty: A History of the Early Republic, 1789-1815

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Author: Eliga H. Gould
Date: Nov. 2011
From: Journal of Southern History(Vol. 77, Issue 4)
Publisher: Southern Historical Association
Document Type: Book review
Length: 1,117 words
Lexile Measure: 1500L

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Empire of Liberty: A History of the Early Republic, 1789-1815. By Gordon S. Wood. Oxford History of the United States. (New York and other cities: Oxford University Press, 2009. Pp. [xxii], 778. $35.00, ISBN 978-0-19-503914-6.)

There is probably no more prestigious multivolume series in American history than the Oxford History of the United States. Although the series is not yet complete (two colonial titles, among others, are projected), Oxford History volumes have garnered some of the top honors in the field in the years since the release of Robert Middlekauff's inaugural contribution, The Glorious Cause: The American Revolution, 1763-1789 (New York, 1982), and several have made appearances on the New York Times best-seller list. Given Gordon S. Wood's long and distinguished career, the publication of the latest installment, Empire of Liberty: A History of the Early Republic, 1789-1815, would be an event worthy of notice under any circumstances, but the book's distinguished company makes its appearance that much more significant.

Like the other titles in the series, Empire of Liberty operates on two levels. First, it tells the story of a discrete period in American history, in this case the quarter century between the inauguration of George Washington in 1789 and the end of the War of 1812. Wood opens by invoking "Rip Van Winkle's America"--a country that "was no longer the same place it had been" when Washington Irving's indolent character fell asleep--and includes chapters on American religion and culture; however, the book's primary focus is political and economic developments (p. 1). For readers of Wood's earlier work, much of this material will be familiar: the efforts of Alexander Hamilton and the Federalists to create a "monarchical republic"...

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Gale Document Number: GALE|A273786091