Thursday, December 2, 2010

Getting to the Roots of It All

I recently began reading A Country of Vast Designs: James K. Polk, the Mexican War and the Conquest of the American Continent by Robert Merry.  This book is part of my effort to become more familiar with the politics leading up to the Civil War, including the fight over the expansion of slavery.  I also am interested in learning more about the Mexican War, where so many of the top leaders in the Union and Confederacy were first tested in battle.  As someone who plows through Civil War books -- making up for all those years when I was doing other things -- it was hard to tear myself away from the War Between the States!  However, I made a commitment that I would do some in-depth reading on antebellum America.  Don't be surprised if I sneak in a little thought or two on relevant pre-Civil War history from time to time.  I also plan to explore more on the issue of secession in Virginia as we approach the 150th anniversary of the Commonwealth's ill-fated decision to break away from the Union.

(courtesy of History Book Club)


Richard said...

Sounds interesting. I recently acquired "Manifest Destinies: America's Westward Expansion and the Road to the Civil War" by Steven Woodworth (it came in the mail today). It looks like an interesting read of the 1840s, probably not too terribly different from the one you read.

I do not know how soon I will get to it, but I certainly look forward to it for reasons similar to what you express.

Ron Baumgarten said...

I looked up "Manifest Destinies" on Amazon. It looks interesting, and perhaps has an even broader focus than what I am reading. "A Country of Vast Designs" has been a good, quick read so far, but concentrates more on the political intrigues in Washington and Polk's presidency. I guess this is to be expected from an author who is president and publisher of Congressional Quarterly! I have learned a lot in the first 70 pages already.

Richard said...

I also read a couple books on the Revolutionary War in the last couple of years and found they helped me get a different perspective on the Civil War. One of them was 1776, and the other was Revolutionary Characters. I enjoyed both.

If you feel like expanding your views any more, check out something from that time period. I want to read a bit more from that era as well, but that's easier said than done with the time I have

Ron Baumgarten said...

I haven't read much about the Revolution, but it seems like a good idea to become more familiar with it.

True about time constraints! It is difficult to make room for all the reading that there is to do.