How the South Won the Civil War: Oligarchy, Democracy, and the Continuing Fight for the Soul of America by Heather Cox Richardson
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
It took me quite a while to finish this book; it is truly heavy reading and, quite often, not for the faint of heart.
Historian Heather Cox Richardson examines American politics, beginning with Reconstruction and up through the 2016 election, to shine a harsh light on how the right wing has used white supremacy as a weapon to gain votes. Politicians from even those early days incited violence among voters, aimed at manufactured “enemies” like people of color, women, and anyone deemed liberal.
Richardson uses the lens of history and politics to examine how wealthy white men, from slave-owning planters to the proverbial 1-percenters of today, put systems into place to protect their own interests as the expense of anyone they view as “less deserving” — those enemies mentioned above. Interestingly, across all eras, these discriminatory systems were cloaked in religion in order to make them look righteous. At no time is that more apparent than the chapters focused on the 1970s and up to the present day.
The interesting thing is that, throughout the majority of the period Richardson examines, she is able to demonstrate that the majority of people in the US did not approve of these oligarchical policies. In fact, more liberal policies have consistently been more popular. However, the 1-percenters of all the eras involved fought tooth and nail to keep their supremacy … and we see it happening even today.
This book is important: it shows how we got to this place in history. As a result, it also shows us a potential roadmap to fix the mess. Highly recommended.
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