Savage Peace: Hope and Fear in America, 1919

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Simon and Schuster, Apr 10, 2007 - History - 576 pages
2 Reviews
Written with the sweep of an epic novel and grounded in extensive research into contemporary documents, Savage Peace is a striking portrait of American democracy under stress. It is the surprising story of America in the year 1919.

In the aftermath of an unprecedented worldwide war and a flu pandemic, Americans began the year full of hope, expecting to reap the benefits of peace. But instead, the fear of terrorism filled their days. Bolshevism was the new menace, and the federal government, utilizing a vast network of domestic spies, began to watch anyone deemed suspicious. A young lawyer named J. Edgar Hoover headed a brand-new intelligence division of the Bureau of Investigation (later to become the FBI). Bombs exploded on the doorstep of the attorney general's home in Washington, D.C., and thirty-six parcels containing bombs were discovered at post offices across the country. Poet and journalist Carl Sandburg, recently returned from abroad with a trunk full of Bolshevik literature, was detained in New York, his trunk seized. A twenty-one-year-old Russian girl living in New York was sentenced to fifteen years in prison for protesting U.S. intervention in Arctic Russia, where thousands of American soldiers remained after the Armistice, ostensibly to guard supplies but in reality to join a British force meant to be a warning to the new Bolshevik government.

In 1919, wartime legislation intended to curb criticism of the government was extended and even strengthened. Labor strife was a daily occurrence. And decorated African-American soldiers, returning home to claim the democracy for which they had risked their lives, were badly disappointed. Lynchings continued, race riots would erupt in twenty-six cities before the year ended, and secret agents from the government's "Negro Subversion" unit routinely shadowed outspoken African-Americans.

Adding a vivid human drama to the greater historical narrative, Savage Peace brings 1919 alive through the people who played a major role in making the year so remarkable. Among them are William Monroe Trotter, who tried to put democracy for African-Americans on the agenda at the Paris peace talks; Supreme Court associate justice Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr., who struggled to find a balance between free speech and legitimate government restrictions for reasons of national security, producing a memorable decision for the future of free speech in America; and journalist Ray Stannard Baker, confidant of President Woodrow Wilson, who watched carefully as Wilson's idealism crumbled and wrote the best accounts we have of the president's frustration and disappointment.

Weaving together the stories of a panoramic cast of characters, from Albert Einstein to Helen Keller, Ann Hagedorn brilliantly illuminates America at a pivotal moment.
 

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SAVAGE PEACE: Hope and Fear in America, 1919

User Review  - Jane Doe - Kirkus

The armistice was signed, most of the men were coming home, but, writes Hagedorn (Beyond the River, 2003, etc.), "the nation was not demobilizing for peace, but in fact preparing for the next heroic ... Read full review

LibraryThing Review

User Review  - ksmyth - LibraryThing

A great book about little known topics in world, though chiefly American, history. Focusing chiefly on race relations and the Red Scare in 1919, Hagedorn relates the degree of paranoia in post-war ... Read full review

Contents

PROLOGUE Armistice Day 1918
1
JUBILATION AND HOPE
17
Gods of War and Peace
19
Spies Are Everywhere
24
Christmas at Villa Lewaro
37
Women and Molasses
46
The List
53
A Mere Slip of a Girl
61
Paris
262
Independence Day 1919
269
The Narrow Path
279
Miss Puffer Insane?
285
That Certain Point
297
Weapons in Their Hats
308
King of the Index
323
CHAPTER 31
334

Polar Bears in Peril
80
Sergeant Henry Johnson
91
Trotter and the Passports
104
The Magisterial Wand
114
Blinders
124
Shuffleboard
134
In Like a Lion
143
Out Like a Lion
155
FEAR
161
Inner Light
163
MakeBelieve Riots and Real Bombs
175
Its in the Mail
188
Monsieur Trotter
203
302 Seconds in May
210
What Happened on R Street
218
War of a Different Sort
226
Thrilling Feats
234
PASSION
247
Missichusetts
249
STRUGGLE
343
The Right to Happiness
345
TugsofWar and of the Heart
356
Autumn Leaflets
364
Not Exactly Paradise
376
Albert in Wonderland
386
Greatness
391
Armistice Day 1919
398
Falling Ladders
404
All Aboard
408
Boughs of Glory
417
EPILOGUE Endings and Beginnings
425
Notes on Sources
447
Notes
455
Selected Bibliography
499
Acknowledgments
511
Index
517
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About the author (2007)

Ann Hagedorn has been a staff writer for The Wall Street Journal and has taught writing at Northwestern University’s Medill School of Journalism and at Columbia University’s Graduate School of Journalism. Her previous books are Wild Ride, Ransom, Beyond the River, and Savage Peace.

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