Ranked #10 in Field
These fights didn't happen in a vacuum. Freeman's accounts of fistfights and threats tell a larger story of how bullying, brawling, and the press - and the powerful emotions they elicited - raised tensions between North and South and fueled the coming of the war. In the process, she brings the antebellum Congress to life, revealing its rough realities - the feel, sense, and sound of it - as well as its nation-shaping import. Funny, tragic, and rivetingly told, The Field of Blood offers a front-row view of congressional mayhem and sheds new light on the careers of luminaries such as John Quincy Adams and Thomas Hart Benton, as well as introducing a host of lesser-known but no less fascinating characters. We see slaveholders silence Northerners with threats and violence. We learn how newspapers promoted conspiracy theories that helped polarize the nation. And we witness an entire legislative chamber erupt into a massive fist-throwing, spittoon-tossing battle royal. By 1860, armed congressmen, some carrying pistols sent by their constituents, fully expected bloody combat in the House. In effect, the first battles of the Civil War were fought in Congress itself.
The Field of Blood demonstrates how a country can come apart as conflicts over personal honor, party loyalty, and moral principle combine and escalate. The result is a fresh understanding of the workings of American democracy and the bonds of Union on the eve of their greatest peril. less
Reviews and Recommendations
We've comprehensively compiled reviews of The Field of Blood from the world's leading experts.
Julian E. Zelizer The book’s point is that in the nineteenth century, Congress was an incredibly contentious place. Today, we think the parties can’t get along, but back in the nineteenth century, tensions were so severe that members were physically fighting on the floor of Congress. The book is well-written, and it brings Congress to life through these stories. Freeman conveys the flavor of the floor in a way very few other people can. (Source)