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A penetrating, character-filled history "in the manner of David McCullough" (WSJ), revealing the deep roots of our tormented present-day politics.Democracy was broken. Or that was what many Americans believed in the decades after the Civil War. Shaken by economic and technological disruption, they sought safety in aggressive, tribal partisanship. The results were the loudest, closest, most violent elections in U.S. history, driven by vibrant campaigns that drew our highest-ever voter turnouts. At the century's end, reformers finally restrained this wild system, trading away participation for civility in the process. They built a calmer, cleaner democracy, but also a more distant one. Americans' voting rates crashed and never fully recovered. This is the origin story of the "normal" politics of the 20th century. Only by exploring where that civility and restraint came from can we understand what is happening to our democracy today.
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