Tuesday, June 12, 2018

Booknotes: Ambivalent Nation

New Arrival:
Ambivalent Nation: How Britain Imagined the American Civil War by Hugh Dubrulle
  (LSU Press, 2018).

Expanding regional investigation to countries outside western Europe and applying more cultural approaches, current studies exploring the international dimensions of the Civil War period are moving beyond diplomacy and high-level politics (primarily as these applied to Britain and France). Hugh Dubrulle's Ambivalent Nation: How Britain Imagined the American Civil War "explores how Britons imagined the American Civil War and how these imaginings influenced discussions about British politics, society, race, nationalism, and military affairs. Contributing to and expanding upon previous scholarship that focused on establishing British public opinion toward the American war, Dubrulle presents the forces that shaped that opinion. In doing so, he enriches the context of existing historiography."

Chapters explore how Britons perceived antebellum America, what factors shaped British attitudes during the war, and how these "imaginings" affected their views on race and American society and politics. Also addressed are British opinions of the military significance of the conflict and their understanding of nationalism(s) in North America.

The book "offers a methodical dissection of habits of thought and stereotypes developed during the antebellum period and how they a were largely the product of the Anglo-American post-colonial relationship. Previous historians have suggested that the United States was indeed post-colonial in the antebellum years, but none has applied this concept to the study of British attitudes toward Americans during the Civil War."

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