I finished A Nation Under Our Feet, and am on to James McPherson's epic history of the civil war era, Battle Cry Of Freedom. Atliens are supposed to avoid the Oxford series, but it really has sucked me in. I just cracked it a few days ago, but I'd make a few mundane points based on my early impressions:
1.) The thing about reading good works of nonfiction is you often get that "How could I have been so stupid!" feeling. Like, in the words of Marlo, you thought it was one way, but its the other way. That happens to me a lot. Blogging has, paradoxically, forced me to pick up the pace of my book consumption. So it's really been happening a lot. McPherson's book is no exception.
2.) I'm learning to be very careful about making sharp judgments of historical figures, based on present day conditions, context and mores. The United States in the 19th century, seems to barely be a country. Mob justice is common, juries can't be trusted, and each state basically has its own army.
3.) Which leads me to my last and most cliche point--I'm coming to finally, at long last, admire Abraham Lincoln. I am almost ashamed to admit this. It feels cliche and silly. But its true. That sound you hear is the burning of the lost of my black lefty credentials. The end is nigh.