Defending a Way of Life
An American Community in the Nineteenth Century
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This book profiles an American community in the nineteenth century to show the larger process by which the nation was transformed from a life close to the frontier to that characteristic of industrial capitalism. Michael Cassity considers this economic change from the broader perspective of an historian of the American people, offering insights into its social implications and consequences.
With graceful and moving prose, Cassity focuses on the process of social change, the pains that change generated, and the resistance to it. In the course of this transformation, the author examines the ways in which workers, farmers, businessmen, and women experienced and responded to the rise of a new industrial order.
Michael Cassity teaches history at the University of Wyoming at Casper.
"It is no secret that the field of American social history is presently in a quagmire. While some subspecialties (e.g., women's history) are developing fresh approaches, others (e.g. labor history) are not. Michael Cassity's Defending a Way of Life : An American Community in the Nineteenth Century is a marvelously refreshing attempt to free the field from all these problems and to suggest a new agenda for social historians. The various elements of this book weave together so well that it is hard to pinpoint which features are the most important. The strengths begin with the ambitious goal, to illuminate the human condition, carry through the warm and generous exploration of the many ways that human beings have preserved a sense of pride amid pains caused when external forces have changed their internal lives, and certainly include a style that is insightful, eloquent and impassioned in the best senses." — David Thelen, Editor, The Journal of American History