A Student of History

October 11, 2007

What Hath God Wrought?

Filed under: Early America,Great books — John Maass @ 7:01 am

In January, I wrote a brief post on the slow pace of progress of the Oxford Univ. Press History of the United States series.

We now have another volume just off the press, Daniel Walker Howe’s What Hath God Wrought: The Transformation of America, 1815-1848.  At 928 pages it is a whopper!  I have yet to read it, but I do like this period and am very hopeful the book will be a great one.  Interestingly it covers much of the same ground as Sean Wilentz’s recent book on American democracy, so we will have to see if Howe is similar to it or not.

If a book reviewer at amazon.com is correct, the series’ Volumes 1 and 2, covering the Colonial Period (1672-1763) have “been assigned, in some order, yet to be made public (that I am aware of) to Fred Anderson (University of Colorado) and Andrew Cayton (Miami University of Ohio).”  These two historians previously collaborated on Dominion of War.  Gordon Wood is bringing out a volume on the period from 1789-1815.

Here is a description of Howe’s book:

The Oxford History of the United States is by far the most respected multi-volume history of our nation. The series includes two Pulitzer Prize winners, two New York Times bestsellers, and winners of the Bancroft and Parkman Prizes. Now, in What Hath God Wrought , historian Daniel Walker Howe illuminates the period from the battle of New Orleans to the end of the Mexican-American War, an era when the United States expanded to the Pacific and won control over the richest part of the North American continent.  Howe’s panoramic narrative portrays revolutionary improvements in transportation and communications that accelerated the extension of the American empire. Railroads, canals, newspapers, and the telegraph dramatically lowered travel times and spurred the spread of information. These innovations prompted the emergence of mass political parties and stimulated America’s economic development from an overwhelmingly rural country to a diversified economy in which commerce and industry took their place alongside agriculture. In his story, the author weaves together political and military events with social, economic, and cultural history. He examines the rise of Andrew Jackson and his Democratic party, but contends that John Quincy Adams and other Whigs–advocates of public education and economic integration, defenders of the rights of Indians, women, and African-Americans–were the true prophets of America’s future. He reveals the power of religion to shape many aspects of American life during this period, including slavery and antislavery, women’s rights and other reform movements, politics, education, and literature. Howe’s story of American expansion culminates in the bitterly controversial but brilliantly executed war waged against Mexico to gain California and Texas for the United States.

Daniel Walker Howe is Rhodes Professor of American History Emeritus, Oxford University and Professor of History Emeritus, University of California, Los Angeles. He is the author of The Political Culture of the American Whigs and Making the American Self: Jonathan Edwards to Abraham Lincoln . He lives in Los Angeles.


  1. I just got this massive tome for my birthday, looks great.

    Comment by John Maass — October 29, 2007 @ 6:46 am | Reply

  2. […] God Wrought” Filed under: Early America, New books — John Maass @ 11:47 am In a previous post, I noted the publication of Daniel Walker Howe’s new book, “What Hath God Wrought: The […]

    Pingback by Lepore on “What Hath God Wrought” « A Student of History — November 8, 2007 @ 11:47 am | Reply

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