West from Appomattox
The Reconstruction of America after the Civil War
Imprint: Yale University Press
A Wall Street Journal Bestseller
The story of Reconstruction is not simply about the rebuilding of the South after the Civil War. Instead, the late nineteenth century defined modern America, as Southerners, Northerners, and Westerners gradually hammered out a national identity that united three regions into a country that could become a world power. Ultimately, the story of Reconstruction is about how a middle class formed in America and how its members defined what the nation would stand for, both at home and abroad, for the next century and beyond.
A sweeping history of the United States from the era of Abraham Lincoln to the presidency of Theodore Roosevelt, this engaging book stretches the boundaries of our understanding of Reconstruction. Historian Heather Cox Richardson—whose daily "Letters From an American" Substack newsletter has attracted a wide following—ties the North and West into the post–Civil War story that usually focuses narrowly on the South, encompassing the significant people and events of this profoundly important era.
By weaving together the experiences of real individuals—from a plantation mistress, a Native American warrior, and a labor organizer to Andrew Carnegie, Julia Ward Howe, Booker T. Washington, and Sitting Bull—who lived during the decades following the Civil War and who left records in their own words, Richardson tells a story about the creation of modern America.
Included in the Washington Post Book World's Holiday Guide (2007)Selected as a 2008 AAUP University Press Book for Public and Secondary School Libraries.
“Richardson tells a different story about the United States as a whole during a reconceptualized period of ‘Reconstruction’ after the Civil War.”—Sheldon Hackney, University of Pennsylvania“Highly original, deeply researched, and important, West from Appomattox has the added advantage of being extremely well written: Heather Cox Richardson’s prose is clear, accessible, and compelling.”—Eric Arnesen, University of Illinois at Chicago
"With a marvelous sense of scope, narrative lucidity, and thorough research, Heather Richardson makes the convincing case that Americans still live in the world that Reconstruction built—or left partly unbuilt. A skilled historian of political economy, Richardson has here written a new and important synthesis of late-nineteenth-century American society enmeshed in a great struggle to determine just what kind of country the Civil War had wrought. This book is deeply informed and a good read; it spurs our effort to help Americans realize that their reading must not stop with Appomattox."—David W. Blight, Yale University, author of Race and Reunion: The Civil War in American Memory
"A truly fresh reconsideration—and a smart and wonderfully written one—of Reconstruction. Richardson pulls back to a genuinely national perspective, and in doing so gives us a strikingly original view of this vitally important time in the national story."—Elliott West, University of Arkansas, Fayetteville