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American Bloods: The Untamed Dynasty That Shaped a Nation (Hardcover)

American Bloods: The Untamed Dynasty That Shaped a Nation By John Kaag Cover Image
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"American Bloods is an unflinching history of our nation . . . This is a breakout book for John Kaag—the natural extension of his genre-defining writing.” —Doris Kearns Goodwin, Pulitzer Prize–winning author of Leadership: In Turbulent Times

A history of a family spanning centuries and continents—one that unfolds into a new portrait of America.

The Bloods were one of America’s first and most expansive pioneer families. They explored and laid claim to the frontiers—geographic, political, intellectual, and spiritual—that would become the very core of the United States. John Kaag’s American Bloods is the account of a remarkable American family, of its participation in the making of a nation, and of how its members embodied the elusive ideals enshrined in the Declaration of Independence. Inspired by the discovery of a mysterious manuscript in an old Massachusetts farmhouse, Kaag follows eight members of this family from the British Civil Wars in the seventeenth century through the founding of the colonies, the American Revolution, transcendentalism, the Industrial Revolution, the Civil War, and the rise of first-wave feminism, all the way to the beginning of the twentieth century.

The Bloods were active participants in virtually every pivotal moment in American history, coming into contact with everyone from Emerson and Thoreau to John Brown, Frederick Douglass, Victoria Woodhull, and William James. The genealogy of the family tracks the ebb and flow of what Thoreau called “wildness,” an original untamed spirit that would recede in the making of America but would never be extinguished entirely. American Bloods is an enduring reminder of the risks and rewards that were taken in laying claim to the lands that would become the United States, and a composite portrait of America like no other.

About the Author

John Kaag is a professor of philosophy at the University of Massachusetts, Lowell. He is the author of American Philosophy: A Love Story and Hiking with Nietzsche, both of which were named best books of the year by NPR. His writing has appeared in The New York Times, Harper’s Magazine, The Christian Science Monitor, and many other publications. He lives outside Boston with his wife and children.

Praise For…

"Enthralling . . . Kaag’s sweeping portrayal of the Bloods as continuous participants in the country’s intellectual and spiritual development reveals how central the idea of the frontier and its 'wildness' was to the nation’s elite. It’s a unique ideological history of America." Publishers Weekly

"Rich and incisive . . . Kaag provides a lively and insightful examination of his remarkable subjects. An astute and absorbing narrative of one family’s intersection with the nation’s development." Kirkus Reviews

"American Bloods is an unflinching history of our nation, told through the wild, fearful tales of a remarkable American dynasty. This is a breakout book for John Kaag—the natural extension of his genre-defining writing.” —Doris Kearns Goodwin, Pulitzer Prize–winning author of Leadership: In Turbulent Times

"John Kaag’s seductive book weds his empathy for the Transcendentalists—Thoreau and Emerson—with the biographer’s quest for ferreting out the astonishing, funny and highly improbable story of the American Bloods. A multi-generational biography that reveals America with all its glorious warts, this book tells a delightful tale." —Kai Bird, Pulitzer Prize–winning biographer and director of the Leon Levy Center for Biography

"Leave it to the adventuresome philosopher John Kaag to uncover yet another hidden tale central to the history of American life and thought. He was living right on top of this one, in a house on the outskirts of Concord, Massachusetts, where a family called Blood once held title to a vast tract of New England wilderness. In a taut and spell-binding narrative, Kaag traces the Blood family’s influence through generations by singling out individuals—revolutionary, ascetic, polygamist, mystic—and finding these 'borderers' always in close connection with the central thinkers and doers of their day: Emerson, Thoreau, Cornelius Vanderbilt, William James. I couldn’t have been more surprised—and delighted—to join Kaag on this voyage of discovery." Megan Marshall, Pulitzer Prizewinning author of Margaret Fuller: A New American Life and The Peabody Sisters: Three Women Who Ignited American Romanticism.

Product Details
ISBN: 9780374103910
ISBN-10: 0374103917
Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux
Publication Date: May 14th, 2024
Pages: 288
Language: English