HISTORY

Break It Up: Secession, Division, and the Secret History of America’s Imperfect Union

Little, Brown. Aug. 2020. 496p. ISBN 9780316510608. $30. HIST
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Journalist Kreitner writes a compelling narrative on the politics of secession in American history. When people think about secessions in America, they consider the Civil War as the major seceding point in history. However, Kreitner shows that the Union has always been challenged throughout history and experienced fraught since the Colonial period. This book draws on numerous sources and documents to reveal how complex it was for leaders of the United States to develop a framework that focused on preserving the Union. Kreitner examines different parts of American history, and provides an in-depth look on how separatist movements grew and expanded in many parts of the country, challenging the laws, values, and visions from their government. By drawing on the parallel experiences and activities occurring today, Kreitner deftly explains the historical continuums and predicaments of the states.
VERDICT Packed with notes on a variety of sources, this book can be a dense read. But for readers interested in American history and politics, particularly the role and response of the federal government during crises, this book offers a powerful and refreshing account on disunity in America and helps us understand more about today’s political fragmentation under state and national governments.

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