America experienced unprecedented expansion and turmoil in the years between 1815 and 1848. Historian David S. Reynolds illuminates the period's political story as well as the social and cultural movements that influenced it. He casts fresh light on Andrew Jackson, who redefined the presidency, along with John Quincy Adams and James K. Polk, who expanded the nation's territory and strengthened its position internationally. Waking Giant captures the turbulence of a democracy in the throes of the controversy over slavery, the rise of capitalism, and the birth of urbanization. Reynolds reveals dimensions of the Second Great Awakening with its sects, cults, and self-styled prophets. He uncovers the political roots of some of America's greatest authors and artists, and brings to life the reformers, abolitionists, and temperance advocates who struggled to correct America's worst social ills.--From publisher description.