From Ulysses S. Grant: Soldier & President, an interestingly balanced if slightly dull biography of the General who became President of the American States.
The unthinkable had become thinkable. The South, unable to manage either transition to a postslavery economy or irrevocable economic decline, was now talking only to itself as it sought to defend the indefensible, slavery, and deny the undeniable, union. It had become a paradigm of the closed society. And like closed societies everywhere, it was driven by extreme emotions into paranoid delusions and reckless action. There was such anger with the world beyond its narrow prespective that the South seemed at times almost to welcome its own destruction, like a suicide leaping with a shout into the raging sea. — from pp. 120
An interesting commentary that seems to continue to carry weight on present day political movements of many stripes, that the groups insulate, and through insulation become polarized, moving farther and farther to an extreme of whatever position they had originally only slightly held.
It’s also a pretty readable book if overly episodic.