• The Age of Acrimony

  • How Americans Fought to Fix Their Democracy, 1865-1915
  • By: Jon Grinspan
  • Narrated by: Johnny Heller
  • Length: 9 hrs and 47 mins
  • 4.3 out of 5 stars (36 ratings)

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The Age of Acrimony

By: Jon Grinspan
Narrated by: Johnny Heller
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Publisher's Summary

Bloomsbury presents The Age of Acrimony by Jon Grinspan, read by Johnny Heller.

A raucous history of American democracy at its wildest - and a bold rethinking of the relationship between the people and their politics.

Democracy was broken. Or that was what many Americans believed in the decades after the Civil War. Shaken by economic and technological disruption, they sought safety in aggressive, tribal partisanship. The results were the loudest, closest, most violent elections in US history, driven by vibrant campaigns that drew our highest-ever voter turnouts. At the century’s end, reformers finally restrained this wild system, trading away participation for civility in the process. They built a calmer, cleaner democracy, but also a more distant one. Americans’ voting rates crashed and never fully recovered.

This is the origin story of the "normal" politics of the 20th century. Only by exploring where that civility and restraint came from can we understand what is happening to our democracy today.

The Age of Acrimony charts the rise and fall of 19th-century America’s unruly politics through the lives of a remarkable father-daughter dynasty. The radical congressman William "Pig Iron" Kelley and his fiery, Progressive daughter Florence Kelley led lives packed with drama, intimately tied to their nation’s politics. Through their friendships and feuds, campaigns and crusades, Will and Florie trace the narrative of a democracy in crisis. In telling the tale of what it cost to cool our republic, historian Jon Grinspan reveals our divisive political system’s enduring capacity to reinvent itself.

©2021 Jon Grinspan (P)2021 Bloomsbury Publishing Plc

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Fascinating revelations

This is a period of history few Americans learn much about in school. I was aware of Jane Hull, the Teapot dome scandal, the presidency of Grant, but not much else in the period after the civil war. While the expressions and means are different, the conflicts and fractures in society & families, the rhetoric, betrayals, arguments, anger and frustrations of Americans are eerily reminiscent of today, to an extent that simply never occurred to me. This book shows, as none other i am aware of, that the character of American society has not changed, that we are no more fractious now than we have ever been, and that change is only ever accomplished against great and determined opposition by those entrenched powers that profit from the way the political system, & angry voters, can be manipulated.
I just don't know whether to feel more optimisti or less, about our future as a democracy!

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You Will Learn A Lot from this book

Political Turmoil we see today NOT New What is Fox / Facebook NOW !!

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Political Insights

Great reading on the salient parts of the people and systems that shows it's growth in today's chaotic political maelstrom.

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Puts our current political era in perspective

I picked out this book because it covers an era of American history mostly glossed over in high school history courses so I knew relatively little. Wow what an eye opener. It’s also bracing to know that as ugly as American politics is right now. It’s been worse

Presenting the history of the era through the story of the Kelley family made it both more enjoyable and memorable.