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276CIVIL WAR HISTORY voted to occupations, one to education, one to legal status, and one to social life. This makes for an uneven presentation, which, when accompanied by a pedestrian style and a penchant for an orthodox selectivity of concern, leaves a good deal to be desired in comprehensiveness. This results from the misguided provincial notion that Reconstruction was a purely state bound phenomenon which can be explained through arid legalistics and a run through political conclaves and selected leaders . Despite feeble attempts at altruism, the net thrust is Dunning all the way. Even in the political sections the book brings to focus a good deal of detail about the Negro that may be scattered in obscure thesis, journal articles and books. Persons completely unacquainted with some of the personalities and institutional growth of the Negro in Reconstruction and Post-Reconstruction Texas will find this volume something of a beginning point for detail (not interpretation) should the original sources quoted not be available. There appears a curious note of catharsis , a truth telling about anglo motives and discriminations by design in the occupation, education and legal chapters, as well as in the conclusion that demonstrates the soul-searching that went into this book; for the author injects an undercurrent of escape. Nevertheless, Rice slips back in the chapter of Negro life, demonstrating how deep and ugly are the demands of orthodoxy. This book is indeed a lesson and a warning. The lesson is that conformity takes a terrible toll in critical research; the warning, critical research will assert claims that the scientific spirit and conscience will not let be denied. George Ruble Woolfolk Prairie View A&M College America's Outward Thrust: Approaches to Foreign Affairs, 1865-1890. By Milton Plesur. (DeKaIb: Northern Illinois Press, 1971. Pp. vii, 276. $12.50. ) In the past several years American diplomatic historians have "discovered " the period from the end of the Civil War up to the 1890's. A number of excellent books have challenged conventional interpretations which portray this period as quiet and inward-looking. We now realize, through the writings of Walter LaFeber, David Pleteher, William A. Williams, and others, that these years were anything but quiet. On the contrary, this was the time when modern American imperialism began to take shape. Milton Plesur's book, though not breaking new ground in the fashion of the above authors, belongs within this revisionist school. What Plesur attempts is "an attitudinal study" of public thinking on foreign policy during the Gilded Age. His sources are largely newspapers and periodicals, with less use made of government documents and manuscripts of public leaders. Travel accounts and writings of novelists and poets constitute still other sources. Plesur acknowledges the methodological difficulties in such an approach—in describing eu- BOOK REVIEWS277 mulative thought, concretizing and gauging its effectiveness, resolving contradictory expressions—and it would have been valuable had he considered the problem more fully. The book's findings do not essentially challenge the interpretation that LaFeber presented in The New Empire: that American foreign policy in the three decades following the Civil War was far more expansionist -minded than would appear from external results. Compared to the massive land grabs of the 1840's or the smaller acquisitions of the turn-of-the-eentury years, this in-between age does indeed seem placid. But if one looks at American attitudes, especially economic concerns and ambitions, one sees the seeds being planted—some times carefully, sometimes haphazardly—that would bear fruit in the twentieth century . Plesur corroborates this interpretation with a wealth of documentation on the attitudes of government personnel, militarists, religious leaders, scholars, explorers, and, less prominently, industrialists. Clearly, the United States was not in the doldrums during these years. The book is primarily descriptive, not conceptual, and Plesur's own attitude toward "America's Outward Thrust" is ambivalent. On occasion he strikes a note of criticism of the bumptiousness of our diplomacy , the self-righteous nationalism, and aggressive expansionism, or, as he prefers, "expansiveness." For the most part, however, he writes sympathetically of those who thrust the United States outward. "The children of 1890 have lived to see the United States intimately concerned with maintaining peace in every...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1533-6271
Print ISSN
0009-8078
Pages
pp. 276-277
Launched on MUSE
2013-01-02
Open Access
No
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