Waking Giants in the Age of Jackson

January 14, 2009 | Book Beat, Graduate Center

For many Americans, the years between the Revolutionary and Civil Wars are a desert, little known, rarely visited. But David S. Reynolds, Distinguished Professor of English and American Studies at the Graduate Center, lifts the veil with his book “Waking Giant: America in the Age of Jackson.” Focusing on 1815 to 1848, the book reveals the United States to be a growing powerhouse, with an incredible array of fascinating individuals, including politicians (chief among them Andrew Jackson); writers (such as Melville and Thoreau); artists, scientists and wacky personalities pushing various fads. “I tried to humanize the period in ways which it hadn’t been humanized, ” says Prof. Reynolds. “I go into the literature, the music, the theater — I wanted to fill out the entire culture.”
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