Download The Field of Blood: Violence in Congress and the Road to Civil War Audiobook

The Field of Blood: Violence in Congress and the Road to Civil War Audiobook, by Joanne B. Freeman Extended Sample Click for printable size audiobook cover
Author: Joanne B. Freeman Narrator: Joanne B. Freeman Publisher: Macmillan Audio Format: Unabridged Audiobook Delivery: Instant Download Audio Length: Release Date: September 2018 ISBN: 9781427293411
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This program is read by the author.



The previously untold story of the violence in Congress that helped spark the Civil War

In The Field of Blood, Joanne B. Freeman recovers the long-lost story of physical violence on the floor of the U.S. Congress. Drawing on an extraordinary range of sources, she shows that the Capitol was rife with conflict in the decades before the Civil War. Legislative sessions were often punctuated by mortal threats, canings, flipped desks, and all-out slugfests. When debate broke down, congressmen drew pistols and waved Bowie knives. One representative even killed another in a duel. Many were beaten and bullied in an attempt to intimidate them into compliance, particularly on the issue of slavery.

These fights didn’t happen in a vacuum. Freeman’s dramatic accounts of brawls and thrashings tell a larger story of how fisticuffs and journalism, and the powerful emotions they elicited, raised tensions between North and South and led toward 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 John Quincy Adams, Henry Clay, and other luminaries, as well as introducing a host of lesser-known but no less fascinating men. The result is a fresh understanding of the workings of American democracy and the bonds of Union on the eve of their greatest peril.

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Quotes & Awards

  • “Freeman’s wry touch and appreciation for the absurdities of politics—and politicians—give the book a burst of energy and readability.”

    Christian Science Monitor

  • “Fascinating…Freeman’s book goes far toward explaining why there was a Civil War.”

    Wall Street Journal

  • “Absorbing, scrupulously researched…Freeman uncovers the brawls, stabbings, pummelings, and duel threats that occurred among United States congressmen during the three decades just before the Civil War.”

    New York Times Book Review

  • A New York Times Book Review Editor’s Choice

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About the Author

Joanne B. Freeman, a professor of history and American studies at Yale University, is a leading authority on early national politics and political culture. She is the author of the award-winning Affairs of Honor: National Politics in the New Republic and editor of The Essential Hamilton and Alexander Hamilton: Writings. She is a cohost of the popular history podcast BackStory.