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Author Brenda Wineapple Brings To Life An 'Ecstatic Nation'

We often think about the 1800's as a backward period,  an era of slavery and war.   But Brenda Wineapplewants you to take a different view.   She'll speak in Springfield this week.

She says the mid-19th century in America was one of expansion, high hopes and new technology.  Focusing on characters like Walt Whitman, P.T. Barnum, Jefferson Davis, Abraham Lincoln and more, her latest book, Ecstatic Nation, draws parallels between the great minds and achievements of that time amid the backdrop of slavery.   It's still fascinates.  

"In some ways, some of the same discussions we were having then are still with us today," Wineapple said.  She points to issues regarding race and political feuding.  'We have our first black president, which was unthinkable in the period I am talking about.  And yet, we can see the very results of that period in how we live today."

Photographs also play a key role in how we think about the mid-1800's as we can actually view images of the people who made history. 

Brenda Wineapple

"William Faulkner said the past is never dead, sometimes it's not even past," she said.

Wineapple wants her book to teach through entertainment.  She adds we can learn from what came before, both successes and mistakes.  "Because we understand our link to other people and a sense of what it means to live in a country and continually want to make it a more perfect union."

Wineapple will speak Thursday January 16 at the Lincoln Presidential Museum in Springfield.  It begins at 6:30 p.m. with a book signing at 6 p.m. 

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