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book reviews93 hailed the end ofslaverybut opposed die freedmen. He often clashedwith the white Conservatives and ended up backing Grant in 1872. When Wise died late in 1876, many different people for many different reasons could exclaim: "What a mani" Craig M. Simpson, associate professor of history at the University of Western Ontario, has produced a mature, valuable biography of a very difficult subject. The research is thorough, and all ofthe standard scholarly procedures are followed, including seventy-five pages of footnotes at the back of the text. The general reader will find this volume tough going at times, but most scholars will find it well written with only occasional lapses into vague or overblown language and a few organizational or chronological disruptions. Simpson's greatest challenge was explaining just what made Wise tick. Certainly his book abounds with critical evaluations: "knew the advantages of lying" (p. 13), "ambivalence and eccentricity" (p. 37), "hair-trigger temper " (p. 75), "arrogance" (p. 85), "bully of near-violent inclinations" (p. 105), "absolutely unscrupulous" (p.114), "rash and impulsive" (p. 115), "jaded and cynical" (p. 132), "nervousness, bad health, and irritability" (p. 150), "ambitious demagogue" (p. 159), "erratic temperament" (p. 170), "mercurial, challenging and contentious" (p. 220), "ridiculous postering" (p. 225). A political enemy's evaluation of Wise on page 85 is especially provocative: ". . . wild as a March hare ... a screw loose somewhere about his head or heart or both." A complete psychological profile is not possible with a distant subject like Wise, but Simpson has done reasonably well at exposing strengths and weaknesses. Professor Simpson's description of die expedient kind of politics practiced in Virginia in the late antebellum period places Wise in the proper context, and Simpson's term, "carnival ofopportunism," has validity far beyond a single state in diis tragic era. Wise was not only "a good Southerner" but all too American as well. Generally Simpson has succeeded in his examination ofa very complex man. He should try again with another complex but more stable Southerner—someone like Jefferson Davis. F. N. Boney University ofGeorgia Crucible of Reconstruction: War, Radicalism and Race in Louisiana, 1862-1877. By Ted Tunnell. (Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press, 1984. Pp. xiv, 257. $25.00.) This fine work does not attempt to provide a comprehensive study ofLouisiana during Reconstruction, but it does offer "a series of related interpretive essays on themes that have not yet received the full attention they deserve" (p. 7). The essays are well written and clearly placed within die general history of Reconstruction, and Tunnell skillfully identifies and 94CIVIL WAR HISTORY analyzes a variety ofimportant interpretive issues, only some ofwhich can be covered here. The opening chapters establish the geographic location and emphasize die direct and indirect Yankee origins ofa Unionism diat was central to die Reconstruction history of Louisiana. In analyzing Reconstruction events during the war, Tunnell concludes that it was the demands ofwar, and not a concern with the problem ofpostwar reunion, that primarily determined federal policy. He pursues this line of analysis into a rejection of Peyton McCrarys recent insistence upon the central importance of the race issue to political divisions during die war, and simply attributes die federal commander General Banks's crucial break with the Free State Unionists to their interference with his power. Although this case is well argued, it is not totally persuasive and seems somewhat undermined by the author's subsequent emphasis upon the importance ofthe race issue in the immediate postwar period. Tunnell also challenges a recent tendency to view Reconstruction as moderate, and he emphasizes die revolutionary aspects ofthat experience. The bottom rail was rising; Louisiana's noted antebellum free blacks were radicalized and provided skillful leadership to die black community as a whole; and long-standing relationships of race, power, and wealth were seriously challenged by blacks, Yankees, and "renegade" whites. In the context of the South of that day, Republicanism was very radical indeed, and the reaction to it was even more so. White opponents of Reconstruction sought to eradicate rather than compete with Republicanism, and to that end they launched their campaign ofvituperation and terror. A stark illustration of that campaign is provided by a moving account...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1533-6271
Print ISSN
0009-8078
Pages
pp. 93-95
Launched on MUSE
2012-01-04
Open Access
No
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