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ARC Review: The Divorce Colony

The Divorce Colony: How Women Revolutionized Marriage and Found Freedom on the American Frontier by April White April White’s The Divorce Colony is set during the Gilded Age, in the America of the late 1800s. It revolves around the lax divorce rules then to be found in South Dakota.  Today, getting divorced is almost easier than getting married. But in the Gilded Age, divorces were not so easy to obtain. Divorce was viewed as a moral concern for the state, and was denounced from the pulpit for threatening the sanctity of marriage. Even President Theodore Roosevelt spoke out against it.  Laws around divorce tended to be most lax on the frontiers of the United States. By the 1880s the territory of Dakota gained the dubious honor of posting the largest rise in divorces in the country. At the turn of the century one city - Sioux Falls, South Dakota - gained a reputation for having the laxest divorce laws of all, and required only a three month residency in order to take advantage of them

Review: The End of the Myth: From the Frontier to the Border Wall in the Mind of America

The End of the Myth: From the Frontier to the Border Wall in the Mind of America
by Greg Grandin
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Greg Grandin's Pulitzer Prize winning The End of the Myth is a masterful history, and is worthy of every American's attention. 

Even before the United States was founded the original British colonies had undefined western borders. When the colonies went to war with Britain and the new nation was formed, it began with internal tensions and dichotomies - the largest dichotomy being the proclamations both that all men are created equal, and that one man could own another. 

Grandin's book shows how the open frontier acted as a safety valve to externalize the internal conflicts of the nation outward to the frontier. Once the frontier finally ended at the border those conflicts have turned inward on America and are the basis for the tensions in the country today.

I have to say that I thought I understood American history before reading this book, but it is clear to me now that I did not. The War with Mexico, and the later Spanish-American war always seemed like such small pieces of the story. But in Grandin's telling they loom much larger, and help explain some of the Trumpian tensions in America today.

This book is a must read for anyone who has struggled to understand where Trumpism has come from, or who hopes it will "just go away" now that Trump is out of office. Highly recommended.

The End of the Myth links

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