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BOOK REVIEW367 although neither of his standard books seems to havebeen cited (thereis no formal bibliography). This appearance of having been written in a partial historiographical vacuum, a tendency recently deplored by Oscar Handlin, is reinforced by the absence ofany reference to the work of Major L. Wilson (Space, Time, and Freedom), Rush Welter (The Mind ofAmerica, 1820-1860) or David B. Davis (The Siaue Power Conspiracy and the ParanoidStyle), all ofwhose analyses arehighly relevant to Forgie's themes. The decision to by-pass them gives this book a Melchizedekian character, leaving it sut generis, and one is forced to conclude that it would have been preferable first to assess the state of the problem before venturing to disturb sleeping myths that might better have been let lie. Fred Somkin Cornell University Urban Growth in theAge of Sectionalism: Virginia, 1847-1861. By David R. Goldfield. (Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University, 1977. Pp. xxx, 336. $17.50.) Urban Growth in the Age of Sectionalism is one of the latest additions to a modest but growing literature on urban life in the ante-bellum South. Even if earlier works on Old South cities are not quite as few in number or as weak in treatment as some of us interested in this subject have implied, it remains true that each new contribution has the potential (depending upon its scope and quality) to increase significantly our knowledge and understanding of ante-bellum urban development. It is particularly fortunate that Goldfield has been actively engaged for several years in projects of broader scope and has given serious consideration to the elements and implications of both urbanization and regionalism. Goldfield's study (which consists of an introduction, an epilogue, and six topical chapters) is, with certain significant exceptions, based on an examination of six Virginia cities—Richmond, Norfolk, Petersburg, Wheeling, Alexandria, and Lynchburg. As is true of all books, some chapters are better than others. The first is a very solid charting of the growth of the Virginia urban populations, with appropriate attention to national trends, emphasizing the "regeneration" of urban activity in the Old Dominion in the period after 1847. If, by virtue of the nature of the material treated, it is not enthralling, it assuredly offers all that any reader could logically expect. Goldfield's fifth chapter is better still. Here he skillfully interweaves the elements of "cityhood"—the economic superstructure and the development of urban consciousness—and produces an essay that other scholars should read with care and ponder at some length. Two chapters approach the exceptional. Although the treatment of 368CIVIL WAR HISTORY changing commercial structures and labor utilization is, perforce, rather brief, it is absolutely rare to find such a cogent analysis of these important aspects of the urban scene in any but the most narrowly focused monographs. Equally praiseworthy is Goldfield's perceptive analysis of the integration of the Virginia cities into the national, northern-dominated urbannetwork; the competition among themselves for preeminence in the state; and their relationship to the increasingly strident sectionalism that marked the last years of the ante-bellum era. Goldfield deserves commendation for his attempt to deal with urban governmental structures and functions—subjects that recent urban historians tend to avoid. This chapter is, however, marred by the spotty and often insubstantial nature of the data presentedandoccasionallyby insufficient rigor in integrating the data in a comparative fashion. The least satisfactory chapter is that dealing with the Virginia urban "elites." This is not because the necessary quantitative material is inherently tedious—although those of us who have dealt with similar data are painfully aware of that problem—for Goldfield has done a generally satisfactory and workmanlike job in presenting his material. The weaknesses lie, rather, with the data itselfand occasionally with the analytical framework. The analyses of the "elites" are, first ofall, wholly confined to only three of the towns, all of which—Richmond, Norfolk, and Alexandria—are port cities. Additionally, a random sample "control group" is provided only for Richmond. These circumstances considerably diminish the validity of the results as descriptors of the characteristics of the "elites" in the six cities that are the subject of the study. A serious flaw occurs in the...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1533-6271
Print ISSN
0009-8078
Pages
pp. 367-369
Launched on MUSE
2012-01-04
Open Access
No
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