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
Nov 21, 2014
President Barack Obama walks in the Cross Hall of the White House in Washington, Thursday, Nov. 20, 2014, to award the National Medals of Science and National Medals of Technology and Innovation. (AP)

The president throws down the gauntlet on immigration. Bloodshed and new tensions in Israel. Keystone fails. Our weekly news roundtable goes behind the headlines.

Nov 21, 2014
Laura Ingalls Wilder, an American  writer and novelist, at age 27. Her "Little House" series is a beloved semi-autobiographical take on her childhood in the Western American plains. (South Dakota State Historical Society )

A big new look at the legacy of Laura Ingalls Wilder and the woman behind the Little House.

RECENT
SHOWS
Nov 20, 2014
A shot from the AMC reality series, "Freakshow." (Jessica Brooks / AMC)

From TV to Broadway, circus sideshows — freak shows — are having a big cultural moment. What’s the history behind the comeback?

 
Nov 20, 2014
In this file photo, Hillsborough Sheriff deputy patrols outside the gate of JP Morgan Chase annual stockholders meeting held Tuesday, May 15, 2012, in Tampa, Fla. JP Morgan is one of several large financial institutions currently under investigation for alleged violation of Federal bankruptcy laws. (AP)

You’re supposed to have a clean slate after bankruptcy. But that’s not always true. We’ll ask what’s going on.

On Point Blog
On Point Blog
The Explicast, Episode Five: What Is Net Neutrality?
Friday, Nov 14, 2014

The Explicast dives into tech policy territory with a quick look at the real meaning of a complicated bit of tech policy known as ‘Net Neutrality.’

More »
2 Comments
 
Our Week In The Web: November 14, 2014
Friday, Nov 14, 2014

On why we tweet, what we like and a Miley Cyrus and “Serial” theme song mashup you never knew you needed.

More »
Comment
 
Guest Post: U.S.-China Climate Deal is an Important Step In Long Road Ahead
Wednesday, Nov 12, 2014

After a landmark agreement between the US and China on climate change policy and clean energy development, a recent On Point guest reflects on what’s important in this new deal.

More »
Comment