American Civil Wars: A Continental History, 1850–1873

Norton. May 2024. 560p. ISBN 9781324035282. $39.99. HIST
The histories of the United States, Mexico, and British North America (primarily Canada) are inextricably intertwined in the years between 1850 and 1873. In this sweeping text—the fourth in a series—Pulitzer Prize–winning historian Taylor (Univ. of Virginia; American Republics) outlines the military and political events of the U.S. Civil War and developments within the nation’s neighbors. His book shows that during the 1860s, Mexican liberals fought against conservative forces and a French invasion during their own civil war. American unionists fought enslavers to maintain the fragile union between the States, while British North Americans warily eyed their southern neighbors and wondered if they could quell the more restive elements of their Francophone population. After the Union victory in the Civil War, the United States emerged as the continental superpower, allowing both Canada and Mexico to consolidate their statuses as fully formed nations. Taylor argues that all three nations failed to fully realize the larger promises of 19th-century liberalism, but what they achieved was unmatched elsewhere during any similar period.
VERDICT Based on an impressive array of secondary sources, this outstanding account will appeal to readers interested in the U.S. Civil War seeking to understand how it affected Mexico and British North America.
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