A Commercial Republic reviewed in AHR

The current, hot-off-the-presses issue of the American Historical Review (the scholarly organ of the American Historical Association) features a very positive review of A Commercial Republic from Rosanne Currarino of Queen's University. (That's in Canada!) She calls the book "an ambitious work of intellectual history" in which "ideas 'give life to' the peculiar American experiment with democracy and capitalism." Currarino even praises the use of historiography in the text. "The careful reader," she writes, "will...come away from each chapter with a good sense of the central debates in a field or period, the various positions historians have staked out, and the ways those debates shape O’Connor’s own approach." She also makes an excellent point that the book offers an alternative narrative to the currently popular approach represented by works in the "history of capitalism." A Commercial Republic "presents a less certain narrative" than works in that school, in which "capitalism takes command, shaping possible outcomes and imaginable alternatives." Though I certainly agree with this analysis, I didn't intentionally set out to provide the alternative that Currarino noticed. It's pretty exciting to see that there are points sort of "buried" in the text that I did not specifically intend to put there.

Rosanne was on my panel at last year's Society for U.S. Intellectual History conference in Indianapolis. I very much enjoyed meeting her then and learning about her work. Thanks Rosanne!