The Internal Enemy: Slavery and War in Virginia, 1772-1832
From the publisher:
"This [...] story of slavery and freedom in the Chesapeake by a Pulitzer Prize–winning historian reveals the pivot in the nation's path between the founding and civil war.
Frederick Douglass recalled that slaves living along Chesapeake Bay longingly viewed sailing ships as "freedom's swift-winged angels." In 1813 those angels appeared in the bay as British warships coming to punish the Americans for declaring war on the empire. Over many nights, hundreds of slaves paddled out to the warships seeking protection for their families from the ravages of slavery. The runaways pressured the British admirals into becoming liberators. As guides, pilots, sailors, and marines, the former slaves used their intimate knowledge of the countryside to transform the war. They enabled the British to escalate their onshore attacks and to capture and burn Washington, D.C. Tidewater masters had long dreaded their slaves as "an internal enemy." By mobilizing that enemy, the war ignited the deepest fears of Chesapeake slaveholders. It also alienated Virginians from a national government that had neglected their defense. Instead they turned south, their interests aligning more and more with their section. In 1820 Thomas Jefferson observed of sectionalism: "Like a firebell in the night [it] awakened and filled me with terror. I considered it at once the knell of the union." The notes of alarm in Jefferson's comment speak of the fear aroused by the recent crisis over slavery in his home state. His vision of a cataclysm to come proved prescient. Jefferson's startling observation registered a turn in the nation's course, a pivot from the national purpose of the founding toward the threat of disunion. Drawn from new sources, Alan Taylor's [...] narrative re-creates the events that inspired black Virginians, haunted slaveholders, and set the nation on a new and dangerous course."
Also see James Oakes' review in The Washington Post.
Place and publisher: W. W. Norton & Company, 1st edition
Date of publication: September 2013
Number of pages: 624
This week’s book(s):
Description: First published by George Philip in 1987, this book is published in 2015 with new material as part of the introduction.
From the publisher's:
"This book offers a fresh view of the most famous man in history. It shows him as a monarch rather than a genius on the battlefield. Although Napoleon arose through the events of the Revolution, he was primarily interested in establishing a dynasty to rank with the Bourbons or the Habsburgs, and in extending his influence throughout Europe.
Philip Mansel's book shows the ruthlessness with which Napoleon sought to achieve these ends. His creation of a court was a calculated act, to enhance his power and prestige. His policy of territorial expansionism was pursued with an arrogance and inhumanity which turned all Europe against him. His brothers and sisters were given thrones and courts in Italy, Spain, Holland and Westphalia, where they alienated most of their subjects.
This account is based on the hitherto unpublished papers of several of Napoleon's courtiers. This contemporary material provides fascinating insights into the careers and characters of those closest to the Emperor, including Duroc, the Emperor's only friend, his second wife, the Empress Marie Louise, Fontaine, his architect, who helped spread the Empire style throughout Europe, and his brother Joseph, one of the few people who had the courage to tell Napoleon when he was wrong.
The Eagle in Splendour shows that personal genius is not enough to establish a monarchy. The heart of the Napoleonic court was a void, because the Emperor was not loved and his regime lacked credibility. The Emperor's domination of Europe was an illusion, killed, like so many of his soldiers, in the Russian snow. As Malraux said to De Gaulle, Napoleon had ‘a very great mind and a rather small soul'."
Place and publisher: London, I.B.Tauris
Date of publication: 2015
Number of pages: 256
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