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Download Party Games: Getting, Keeping, and Using Power in Gilded Age Politics epub

by Mark Wahlgren Summers

Much of late-nineteenth-century American politics was parade and pageant. Voters crowded the polls, and their votes made a real difference on policy. In Party Games, Mark Wahlgren Summers tells the full story and admires much of the political carnival, but he adds a cautionary note about the dark recesses: vote-buying, election-rigging, blackguarding, news suppression, and violence. Summers also points out that hardball politics and third-party challenges helped make the parties more responsive. Ballyhoo did not replace government action. In order to maintain power, major parties not only rigged the system but also gave dissidents part of what they wanted. The persistence of a two-party system, Summers concludes, resulted from its adaptability, as well as its ruthlessness. Even the reform of political abuses was shaped to fit the needs of the real owners of the political system--the politicians themselves.
Download Party Games: Getting, Keeping, and Using Power in Gilded Age Politics epub
ISBN: 0807828629
ISBN13: 978-0807828625
Category: Other
Subcategory: Humanities
Author: Mark Wahlgren Summers
Language: English
Publisher: The University of North Carolina Press; New edition edition (April 19, 2004)
Pages: 368 pages
ePUB size: 1328 kb
FB2 size: 1132 kb
Rating: 4.2
Votes: 294
Other Formats: azw mbr mobi lrf

While rather biased toward the institutional aspects of American politics during the Guilded Age, Summers' book does give insight into the strategies that the parties used to consolidate power near the turn of the century. His analysis is clear; and he provides relevant, and sometimes humorous, anecdotes. For instance, one man registered his goat to vote. Summers ultimately argues that the parties manipulated an already sectarian and polarized political structure for their own advantage, a manipulation that sometimes stretched beyond the limits of the law to include gerrymandering, vote-buying, patronage, and other illegalities.

The book focuses on campaign and electoral politics, yet Summers does not provide an even-handed analysis of the act of voting itself. To Summers, the American voter during the Gilded Age was a pawn to be used for electoral gains. The author largely ignores the idea that Americans may have voted based on personal ideological preferences rather than to simply appease the party machine.

Overall, though, it was a great read with an accessible style that didn't require much background knowledge about the era. I'd recommend this book to anyone interested in this sometimes unbelievable period of American history.
I was, I must admit, initially disappointed in this book. I had looked forward to a good straight-forward narrative and analysis of what politics was in the period 1865-1900. Much of it, most of it, was more than familiar from older sources; sometimes the organization of the material was confusing; and there were occasionally details where you didn't need them, and no details where you did.
Nonetheless, if this is terra incognito to you, here is a good place to start. With a little patience you will learn a lot about how the political bosses of the time operated, and why. But, it does take a lot of work to dig out the good stuff. A fine book for politics buffs; not so good if you have only a casual interest in the great game.
The name of this book should be,"the more things change, the more they remain the same." It's readable and informative.