Disunion!: The Coming of the American Civil War, 1789-1859


Product Details

University of North Carolina Press
Publish Date
September 15, 2010
6.08 X 9.12 X 1.11 inches | 1.45 pounds

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About the Author

Elizabeth R. Varon is professor of history at Temple University.


Highly readable political, social, and intellectual history at its best. . . . Highly recommended.--Choice

[A] very important book. . . . Well-written and carefully documented and will be imminently useful to undergraduate and graduate classrooms alike.--The Pennsylvania Magazine of History and Biography

In scope, authority, and lucidity, this book . . . deserves to be ranked alongside some of the landmark studies of Civil War causation. . . . As good an account of the worldview of antebellum Americans as one can read.--H-Civil War

An ambitious book that seeks to reimagine the causes of the Civil War. . . . Original and valuable.--Journal of American History

Deeply enriches our understanding of the causes of the Civil War. . . . [Varon's] insights on the gendered nature of disunion discourse are especially valuable. . . . Extremely readable.--Maryland Historical Magazine

A compelling argument about the political significance of language. . . Speaks to specialists and remains approachable for undergraduates, scholars in other fields, and general readers.--Common-Place

A solid contribution to antebellum political history [that] offers a new and interesting viewpoint on sectionalism.--Journal of Southern History

Breathes new life into our understanding of the antebellum era. . . . Varon's work proves that this history, one that marries rhetoric to events, can illuminate dark corners of the antebellum narrative and carry lessons into the present day.--Journal of American Studies

Varon fulfills her goal of distinguishing disunion from secession and exploring the multifaceted meanings of the term. . . . She eminently succeeds in showing how disunion evolved from a 'prophecy' that no one wanted fulfilled to the fire-eaters' 'program.'--American Historical Review

Varon's success in setting her analysis of disunion rhetoric against a comprehensive historiographical backdrop is exceptional. Meticulously researched and beautifully assembled, Disunion will become a standard text for students and scholars interested in this tumultuous chapter in American history.--North & South

One of the most innovative aspects of this book is the weaving of race and gender into the narrative. . . . It is a cliche, but it is nonetheless true that a short review cannot do justice to this nuanced and beautifully written study.--American Historical Review

Masterful. . . . Varon skillfully blends race, gender and social history to fashion a political chronicle of the period. . . . An excellent and well-designed book.--Civil War News

A stimulating and extremely fluent study, bringing together a multitude . . . of voices offering their particular perspective on, proscriptions against, or prescriptions for disunion.--Georgia Historical Quarterly

[A] well-reasoned study of the long war of words and ideas predating the open bloodshed of the Civil War.--The Midwest Book Review

Impressive in scope, as well as in breadth and depth. . . . A masterful synthesis of the predominant primary and secondary literature on the antebellum period. . . . Accessible in both structure and style, and will be especially valuable for students in an upper division course on antebellum America or the Civil War. . . . Varon excels at weaving together the multiple discourses of disunion.--Louisiana History

Blends political history with intellectual, cultural, and gender history to examine the ongoing debates over disunion that long preceded the secession crisis of 1860-61. . . . A valuable addition to your Civil War/Confederate library. . . . Excellent.--Lone Star Book Review

A broad study. . . . Strong both in illuminating operative gender and racial perspectives and in presenting in some detail the views and methods of presentation and activism of many figures who will be unfamiliar even to most American historians, but who, as this book demonstrates, should not be ignored.--Reviews in American History

An excellent history that is well balanced and fairly presents all sides. . . . Recommend[ed] . . . to all Civil War readers as an essential foundation to understanding why the war came and many of the decisions of 1860 to 1862.-- James Durney, independent Book Reviewer

Expertly tackles a substantial body of historical literature while weaving the growth of disunionist rhetoric through the traditional landmarks on the road to Civil War.--Southern Historian

New works periodically appear that significantly contribute to our understanding of that deep national schism. Elizabeth Varon's Disunion is one of those studies. . . . Utilizing a wide range of source material, Varon has crafted a fascinating study that examines not just leaders but a wide array of voices. She does an excellent job of providing the appropriate context for the issues discussed so that readers have both a good understanding of the issue at hand and this work's place within the historiography." --North Carolina Historical Review

This is a very interesting book and important in helping to understand the underlying political causes of our American Civil War. . . . This is a valuable addition to your Civil War / Confederate library.--The Lone Star Book Review

Definitive . . . explain[s] the effects Disunion had upon the various political groups and the citizens from our founding fathers and later on. . . . Balanced history at its very best.--The Midwest Book Review

Installs [the premise of disunion] by weaving the country's beginnings with the immediate, and profound, philosophical differences that existed between the agrarian, slaveholding South and the industrialized North.--The Anniston Star

A cogently reasoned intellectual history of a frequently misunderstood historical term. . . . Varon successfully weaves together political debates, contemporary journalism, literary fiction and nonfiction, sermons from pulpits of the nation's leading churches and other sources of popular culture.--Civil War Times

Highly engaging. . . . Makes good use of recent historical literature to produce a synthetic and balanced account of the politics of disunion in the American republic.--Civil War Book Review