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From Hometown to Battlefield in the Civil War Era
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Book description

Mahoney examines how members of the middle class from small cities across the great West were transformed by boom and bust, years of recession, and civil war. He argues that in their encounters with national economic forces, the national crisis in politics, and the Civil War, middle class people were cut adrift from the social identity that they had established in the 'face to face' communities of the 'hometowns' of the urban West. By grounding them in their hometown ethos, and understanding how the Panic of 1857 and the subsequent recession undermined their lives, the author provides important insights into how they encountered, responded to, and were changed by their experiences in the Civil War. Providing a rare view of social history through the framework of the Civil War, the author documents, in both breadth and depth, the dramatic change and development of modern life in nineteenth-century America.


'Mahoney is more careful, attentive, and respectful to these largely forgotten Midwesterners than any other scholar has been. There are some real gems in this book, ranging from his characters’ search for political positions amid economic collapse to their learning the ways of bureaucracy within the impersonal northern military machine.'

Robert D. Johnston Source: The Annals of Iowa

'… this book provides an intimate examination of this region and the people living in it and offers a much-needed counterbalance to eastern or southern-centric social histories of the Civil War. It would be profitably read by anyone interested in Midwestern history, the history of the Civil War, and the eternally interesting topic of America’s evolving middle class.'

Brian Schoen Source: The Michigan Historical Review

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  • 1 - “You are Home Folk”
    pp 25-67


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