Review: The Caning: The Assault That Drove America to Civil War

A haughty, self-involved United States senator from Massachusetts was recognized on the Senate floor and began to speak... It's not what you think.  This is not a story about Elizabeth Warren in the Senate, nor a review of John Kerry's speech there on, well, anything.  It is a prelude to what author and Suffolk University faculty member Stephen Puleo calls the incident that pushed America to civil war: the caning of Senator Charles Sumner by South Carolina congressman Preston Brooks. Puleo's book, The Caning: The Assault That Drove America to Civil War, is a vivid account of the May 22, 1856 incident on the floor of the Senate in which Brooks beat Sumner nearly to death with a gold-topped gutta-percha cane.  The skill with which Puleo introduces the events surrounding and following the incident brings life and significance to the black-and-white illustration of Sumner cowering under the attack we may have contemplated with mild amusement in school textbooks. Puleo's...(Read Full Article)

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