The Field of Blood

Violence in Congress and the Road to Civil War

Ranked #10 in Field

In The Field of Blood, the historian Joanne B. Freeman offers a new and dramatically rendered portrait of American politics in its rowdiest years. Drawing on an extraordinary range of sources, she shows that today's hyperpolarized environment cannot compare with the turbulent atmosphere of the decades before the Civil War, when the U.S. Congress itself was rife with conflict. Legislative sessions were routinely punctuated by mortal threats, canings, flipped desks, and all-out slug-fests. Congressmen drew pistols and waved bowie knives at rivals. One representative even killed another... more

Reviews and Recommendations

We've comprehensively compiled reviews of The Field of Blood from the world's leading experts.

Ezra Klein "Field of Blood" is an amazing book that really puts modern politics in perspective. And @jbf1755 is just brilliant — we did a podcast on political violence that I still think about often: (Source)

Jeff Stein @jbf1755 Joshua Giddings was the best part of your book (Source)

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)

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