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3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 3.00 (121 ratings) (rate this audio book) Author: Bruce Levine Narrator: Peter Jay Fernande Publisher: Recorded Books, LLC Format: Unabridged Audiobook Delivery: Instant Download Audio Length: Release Date:
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In this major new history of the Civil War, Bruce Levine tells the riveting story of how that conflict upended the economic, political, and social life of the old South, utterly destroying the Confederacy and the society it represented and defended. Told through the words of the people who lived it, The Fall of the House of Dixie illuminates the way a war undertaken to preserve the status quo became a second American Revolution whose impact on the country was as strong and lasting as that of our first.

In 1860 the American South was a vast, wealthy, imposing region where a small minority had amassed great political power and enormous fortunes through a system of forced labor. The South’s large population of slaveless whites almost universally supported the basic interests of plantation owners, despite the huge wealth gap that separated them. By the end of 1865 these structures of wealth and power had been shattered. Millions of black people had gained their freedom, many poorer whites had ceased following their wealthy neighbors, and plantation owners were brought to their knees, losing not only their slaves but their political power, their worldview, their very way of life. This sea change was felt nationwide, as the balance of power in Congress, the judiciary, and the presidency shifted dramatically and lastingly toward the North, and the country embarked on a course toward equal rights.

Levine captures the many-sided human drama of this story using a huge trove of diaries, letters, newspaper articles, government documents, and more. In The Fall of the House of Dixie, the true stakes of the Civil War become clearer than ever before, as slaves battle for their freedom in the face of brutal reprisals; Abraham Lincoln and his party turn what began as a limited war for the Union into a crusade against slavery by issuing the Emancipation Proclamation; poor southern whites grow increasingly disillusioned with fighting what they have come to see as the plantation owners’ war; and the slave owners grow ever more desperate as their beloved social order is destroyed, not just by the Union Army but also from within. When the smoke clears, not only Dixie but all of American society is changed forever.

Brilliantly argued and engrossing, The Fall of the House of Dixie is a sweeping account of the destruction of the old South during the Civil War, offering a fresh perspective on the most colossal struggle in our history and the new world it brought into being.

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Quotes & Awards

  • “This book limns the relationship between slavery and the rise and fall of the Confederacy more clearly and starkly than any other study. General readers and seasoned scholars alike will find new information and insights in this eye-opening account.”

    James M. McPherson, New York Times bestselling author of Battle Cry of Freedom

  • “[The Fall of the House of Dixie] will delight and disturb—and provide much needed clarity as Americans take a fresh look at the meaning of the Civil War.”

    Ronald C. White, Jr., New York Times bestselling author of A. Lincoln

  • “Levine’s engrossing story chronicles the collapse of a doomed republic—the Confederate States of America—built on the unstable sands of delusion, cruelty, and folly.”

    Adam Goodheart, New York Times bestselling author of 1861: The Civil War Awakening 

  • “A gripping, lucid grassroots history of the Civil War that declines the strict use of great battles and Big Men as its fulcrum, opting instead for the people...In the tradition of James McPherson, Levine has produced a book that is a work of both history and literature.”

    Ta-Nehisi Coates, author of The Beautiful Struggle

  • “Levine illuminates the experiences of southern men and women—white and black, free and enslaved, civilians, and soldiers—with a sure grasp of the historical sources and a deft literary touch. He masterfully recaptures an era of unsurpassed drama and importance.”

    Gary W. Gallagher, author of The Confederate War 

  • “Bruce Levine vividly traces the origins of the ‘slaveholders’ rebellion’ and its dramatic wartime collapse. With this book, he confirms his standing among the leading Civil War historians of our time.”

    James Oakes, author of Freedom National

  • “A deep, rich, and complex analysis of the period surrounding and including the American Civil War...Enlightening.”

    Publishers Weekly

  • “Eloquent and illuminating...Shifting away from traditional accounts that emphasize generals and campaigns, Levine instead offers a brilliant and provocative analysis of the way in which slaves and non-elite whites transformed the conflict into a second American Revolution.”

    Douglas R. Egerton, author of Year of Meteors

  • “The idea that Southern secession was unconnected to the defense of slavery has a surprising hold on the popular historical imagination, North and South. Levine’s demolition of such a misapprehension profoundly succeeds as both argument and drama.”

    David Roediger, coauthor of The Production of Difference

  • “Thorough, convincing, and, in a word, brilliant. Our understanding of this central event in American history will never be the same.”

    Marcus Rediker, author of The Slave Ship

  • “The story of a war waged off the battlefield, a war of politics and ideology that transformed both Southern and Northern culture unfolds brilliantly in the able hands of this fine historian.”

    Carol Berkin, author of Revolutionary Mothers

  • “A sensitive, informed rendering of the wrenching reformation of the South.”

    Kirkus Reviews (starred review)

  • “Masterful...Levine’s employment of testimonies by slaveholders, slaves, and pro-Union Southerners is effective and often poignant.”


Listener Opinions

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 by Standup2p | 2/20/2014

    " Yes it was all about slavery "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 by Jessica | 2/18/2014

    " This took way too long to read. It was interesting material but not very engaging in the storytelling. In fact, at times it read like a textbook, which is why it took me so long to get through it. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 by Charles Inglin | 2/14/2014

    " Very interesting treatment of a complex subject. The slave economy of the pre-Civil War South gave the relatively small number of large scale slave owners enormous wealth and with it enormous political clout, such that I don't think most people today realize just how much sway they had over American politics and policy. In some respects the situation was not dissimilar from today's concentration of wealth and the use of that wealth by a minority to influence policy to favor themselves, sometime over the common good. Even the large mass of non-slave owning Southerners favored slavery, since they saw the hope of eventually becoming slave owners as the way out of the subsistence farming that was the lot of the majority of them. At the same time, they developed an almost surreal mythology to justify keeping the slaves in bondage because it was God's plan, the slaves were like children and couldn't take care of themselves, and the slaves were happy with their lot and loyal to their masters. The other, contradictory side of the coin was the pervasive fear of slave rebellions and the need to keep them firmly under control. In the North, the war began not as a war to free the slaves but as a war to preserve the Union. Racism was as endemic there as elsewhere. Lincoln came into office with no intention of doing more than trying to restrict the spread of slavery. As the war progressed, abolition became first a war measure to chip away at the economic underpinnings of the Southern economy. The Emancipation Proclamation only freed slaves in the parts of the country under Confederate control. Lincoln couldn't afford to alienate slave owners in the slave holding border states that remained loyal to the Union. But once the process of liberation started, and as more Northerners were exposed the reality of slavery the movement to abolish slavery entirely gathered momentum. One of the great irony of the war was the attitude of the large slave holders who were obsessed with preserving their property, to the point of resisting efforts of the Confederate government to requisition their slaves for labor in support of the armies and paying taxes in kind to support the war. "

  • 1 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 5 by Christie | 2/14/2014

    " Didn't finish it - it is interesting, but not a story, and that was what I was in the mood for. "

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