90.9 WBUR - Boston's NPR news station
Top Stories:
PLEDGE NOW
‘Ecstatic Nation’

“Ecstatic Nation.”  A new book looks at the passions and polarization that drove America to civil war.

 Slaves Waiting for Sale - Richmond, Virginia. Oil, 20¾ x 31½ inches. Painted upon the sketch of 1853 -- Eyre Crow (Wikimedia Commons)

Slaves Waiting for Sale – Richmond, Virginia. Oil, 20¾ x 31½ inches. Painted upon the sketch of 1853 — Eyre Crow (Wikimedia Commons)

The lazy days of August have calmed the din just a bit.  But we know we’ve been living in a time of extraordinary political passions and polarization.

In a brilliant new book called “Ecstatic Nation,” historian Brenda Wineapple takes us back in a new way to the years around America’s ultimate meltdown in passion – the years around the Civil War.

Not just the bills and moves and maneuvers that left the nation at war with itself.  But the people – from P.T. Barnum to Walt Whitman to Red Cloud to Jefferson Davis.

This hour, On Point:  “Ecstatic Nation,” and American polarization, then and now.

- Tom Ashbrook

Guest

Brenda Wineapple, author of “Ecstatic Nation: Confidence, Crisis, and Compromise, 1848-1877.” She teaches in the MFA programs at the New School University and Columbia University, and is a professor of modern literary and historical studies at Union College.

From Tom’s Reading List

The New York Times: Patriotic Roar — “Wineapple gives us history as it feels in real time: full of plans that backfire, schemes foiled by chance, outliers who suddenly change everything and happy endings that turn out to be not too happy after all. And, somehow, the whole untidy situation pushes us toward social progress. ‘Ecstatic Nation’ is not a book with an overt agenda. Its message is delivered through its vivid portrayal of the human side of an era, following the roiling tides of emotions — erratic, shifting and ultimately overpowering.”

Salon: ‘It is the nation’s time': How women won the vote — “Elizabeth Cady Stanton continued to lecture, but mainly she wrote; she composed a history of the entire suffrage movement and a monumental two-volume Women’s Bible. Susan B. Anthony kept traveling across America as a suffrage speaker. In Rochester, in the fall of 1872, she tried to cast her ballot in the presidential election. Arrested, convicted, and fined, she never served a day in jail and never paid the fine; rather, she trooped on, becoming the mother of us all.”

Excerpt: ‘Ecstatic Nation’

Please follow our community rules when engaging in comment discussion on this site.
ONPOINT
TODAY
Feb 27, 2015
Federal Communication Commission (FCC) ChairmanTom Wheeler, center, joins hands with FCC Commissioners Mignon Clyburn, left, and Jessica Rosenworcel, before the start of their open hearing in Washington, Thursday, Feb. 26, 2015.  (AP)

A US-Israel rift. A win for net neutrality. “American Sniper” verdict. Our weekly news roundtable goes behind the headlines.

Feb 27, 2015
This image released courtesy of the Lead Belly Estate shows folk and blues musician Huddie William Ledbetter, better known as Lead Belly. Huddie "Lead Belly" Ledbetter never had a hit record before he died of Lou Gehrig's disease in 1949. (AP)

Going back to Lead Belly. The blues legend is back. His influences, as big as ever.

RECENT
SHOWS
Feb 27, 2015
This image released courtesy of the Lead Belly Estate shows folk and blues musician Huddie William Ledbetter, better known as Lead Belly. Huddie "Lead Belly" Ledbetter never had a hit record before he died of Lou Gehrig's disease in 1949. (AP)

Going back to Lead Belly. The blues legend is back. His influences, as big as ever.

 
Feb 27, 2015
Federal Communication Commission (FCC) ChairmanTom Wheeler, center, joins hands with FCC Commissioners Mignon Clyburn, left, and Jessica Rosenworcel, before the start of their open hearing in Washington, Thursday, Feb. 26, 2015.  (AP)

A US-Israel rift. A win for net neutrality. “American Sniper” verdict. Our weekly news roundtable goes behind the headlines.

On Point Blog
On Point Blog
Our Week In The Web: February 27, 2015
Friday, Feb 27, 2015

We won’t lead you into a debate on the color of #TheDress (it’s blue and black, end of debate), but we do wonder about the blurring lines between so-called Internet culture and general popular culture. Also, it’s snowing in Boston. Still.

More »
Comment
 
Two Congressmen Weigh In On DHS Funding
Tuesday, Feb 24, 2015

Rep. Jim Jordan of Ohio and Rep. Chris Van Hollen of Maryland present their views on the ongoing Congressional budget fight over Department of Homeland Security funding. (Spoiler: They do not agree on a resolution of the crisis).

More »
Comment
 
Our Week In The Web: February
Friday, Feb 20, 2015

We explain what happened with the old podcast feed this week and last, share some other Oscar categories and reminisce about the golden days of Double Rainbows and Honey Badgers who just don’t care.

More »
Comment