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The Shaping of America, vol. 2, Continental America: 1800-1867.

(Yale University Press, 1993. 35 [pounds]. 0 300 05658 3). In the second volume of what he describes as a geographical perspective on 500 years of history, Professor D. W. Meinig of Syracuse surveys the half-century that leads to the dissolution of the carefully contrived unity of 1787. It is as well written and as lavishly illustrated as was Volume 1, and has as dramatic a tale to tell: of expansion in territory, population and economics. It is ethno-history as well as geopolitics. It is rich in portraying the tensions and the challenges, especially those of Jefferson regarding the Louisiana Purchase. Meinig traces the expansion of distinct regional societies, Indians, Afro-Americans and sub-groups of each, and the development of cities, waterways, roads and railways. It is thick with vivid quotations, and even better supplied with possible exam questions. Some of them raise philosophic as well as geographic and historical issues. Thus: |Seven was the optimum number of secessions for starting a civil war'. If only three or four had seceded, there might have been no War at all. Professor Meinig is to be congratulated, and given good wishes for the two books to come.
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Publication:Contemporary Review
Article Type:Book Review
Date:Sep 1, 1993
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