Academic journal article The Arkansas Historical Quarterly

The Nation's Crucible: The Louisiana Purchase and the Creation of America

Academic journal article The Arkansas Historical Quarterly

The Nation's Crucible: The Louisiana Purchase and the Creation of America

Article excerpt

The Nation's Crucible: The Louisiana Purchase and the Creation of America. By Peter Kastor. (New Haven: Yale University Press, 2004. Pp. xiii, 309. Acknowledgments, map, notes bibliography, index. $35.00)

In this interesting and useful addition to the scholarship on the development of the American community, Peter Kastor traces the sometime circuitous route Louisiana took from acquisition by the United States to actual incorporation into the nation. But he declares the purpose of The Nation 's Crucible is to study not only that incorporation of Louisiana but the role that process played in defining an American nation: "The task of incorporating Louisiana convinced many Americans of the necessity of nationhood, for nationhood offered the only means to preserve their hold on the distant province of Louisiana" (pp. 227-228). Kastor shows how Louisiana developed its own American identity while being able to convince Americans of its Americanness, and the impact that had on the United States: "Louisiana had played no small role in establishing that the territorial frontier not only could be, but had to be fully incorporated in all the meanings ofthat word" (p. 220).

Kastor's clear and well-written work, which focuses on the period from the purchase until 1820, is divided chronologically into four sections. There are overlaps in both time and topic that allow each of the sections to stand alone. This organization makes the work accessible to the general reader while being most useful in upper division or graduate college courses. …

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