Ransom examines the economic and political factors that led to the attempt by Southerners to dissolve the Union in
In his detailed examination of the political and economic factors that brought about the secession crisis, economist-turned-historian Ransom places the institution of slavery squarely at center stage. To Ransom, slavery not only ``caused'' the Civil War, it also determined its outcome by crippling the Confederate war effort. An irony, of sorts, characterized the long sectional conflict over slavery. The North, as Ransom describes it, fought a costly war to abolish slavery even as most northerners had little interest in emancipating the slaves. The South failed in a devastating war to protect its peculiar institution even as the 1860 U.S Constitution offered it the best protection for a slave system. Ransom's work, somewhat cumbersome in places, still makes for interesting reading. Recommended for colleges and universities with upper-division courses in the South and the Civil War.-- Jason H. Silverman, Winthrop Coll., Rock Hill, S.C.