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America Aflame: How the Civil War Created a Nation

by

America Aflame: How the Civil War Created a Nation Cover

 

Synopses & Reviews

Publisher Comments:

In this spellbinding new history, David Goldfield offers the first major new interpretation of the Civil War era since James M. McPherson's Battle Cry of Freedom. Where past scholars have limned the war as a triumph of freedom, Goldfield sees it as America's greatest failure: the result of a breakdown caused by the infusion of evangelical religion into the public sphere. As the Second GreatAwakening surged through America, political questions became matters of good and evil to be fought to the death.

The price of that failure was horrific, but the carnage accomplished what statesmen could not: It made the United States one nation and eliminated slavery as a divisive force in the Union. The victorious North became synonymous with America as a land of innovation and industrialization, whose teeming cities offered squalor and opportunity in equal measure. Religion was supplanted by science and a gospel of progress, and the South was left behind.

Goldfield's panoramic narrative, sweeping from the 1840s to the end of Reconstruction, is studded with memorable details and luminaries such as HarrietBeecher Stowe, Frederick Douglass, and Walt Whitman. There are lesser known yet equally compelling characters, too, including Carl Schurz—a German immigrant, warhero, and postwar reformer—and Alexander Stephens, the urbane and intellectual vice president of the Confederacy. America Aflame is a vivid portrait of the "fiery trial"that transformed the country we live in.

David Goldfield is the Robert Lee Bailey Professor of History at the University of North Carolina, Charlotte. He is the author of many works on Southern history, including Still Fighting the Civil War; Black, White, and Southern; and Promised Land.

“This provocative new look at the era of Civil War and Reconstruction places evangelical religion at center stage in the drama of the coming of war. Northern evangelicals branded slavery a sin; Southern theologians portrayed it as a positive good ordained by God. Political questions became a moral battle between good and evil. The author argues that postwar economic growth in the victorious North and grinding poverty in the South transformed the cultural force of religion into a conservation rationalization of the status quo, rather than its former role as an instrument of change.”—James M. McPherson, author of Battle Cry of Freedom and Tried by War: Abraham Lincoln as Commander in Chief

 

“Readers who wonder if theres really much left to say about the Civil War and its impact on America will find their doubts evaporating only a few pages into this remarkable book. Although there is plenty of new information here, David Goldfields greatest contribution may lie in showing us new ways to understand what we already know. Undaunted by the complexity and contentiousness of his subject, Goldfield has only embellished his stellar credentials as a both writer and scholar in this concise yet sweeping treatment, in which narrative and analysis flow so seamlessly that we are always engaged and often engrossed.”—James C. Cobb, author of Away Down South: A History of Southern Identity

 

“In America Aflame, distinguished historian David Goldfield turns an unflinching eye on a, if not the, central event in American history. The resulting narrative goes far toward correcting the popular tendency to romanticize the Civil War. Few histories of the Civil War make the wars meaning and impact so central to their narratives.”—Gaines M. Foster, author of Ghosts of the Confederacy and Moral Reconstruction.

 

“This masterful synthesis of the Civil War is a stunning achievement.  With fresh perspective, with inspiring and often provocative ideas, Goldfield challenges some of the old narratives of sectional conflict, civil war and Reconstruction.  His examination of disparate, even divergent ways of thinking in the nineteenth century is brilliant, especially his exploration of the power of evangelical religion before and its diminished authority after the Civil War.  A rich and vivid work, America Aflame is an extraordinary contribution to the historical understanding of our most defining war.”—Orville Vernon Burton, author of The Age of Lincoln

 

“Here is an extremely thoughtful, persuasively argued, beautifully written, and highly original look at the Civil War and its impact on the nation--both in the short and long term. This book should stir much healthy debate, challenging us to reconsider the fundamentals of the war we think we know so well.”—Harold Holzer, author of Lincoln President-Elect

Review:

"This sweeping, provocative history of America from the 1830s through Reconstruction has two grand themes. One is the importance of evangelical Protestantism, particularly in the North and within the Republican Party, in changing slavery from a political problem to an intractable moral issue that could only be settled by bloodshed. The second is the Civil War's transformation of America into a modern industrial nation with a powerful government and a commercial, scientific outlook, even as the postwar South stagnated in racism and backward-looking religiosity. UNC-Charlotte historian Goldfield (Still Fighting the Civil War) courts controversy by shifting more responsibility for the conflict to an activist North and away from intransigent slaveholders, whom he likens to Indians, Mexicans, and other targets viewed by white evangelical Northerners as 'polluting' the spreading western frontier. Still, he presents a superb, stylishly written historical synthesis that insightfully foregrounds ideology, faith, and public mood The book is, the author writes, 'neither pro-southern nor pro-northern,' but rather 'antiwar.' Goldfield's narrative of the war proper is especially good, evoking the horror of the fighting and its impact on soldiers and civilians. The result is an ambitious, engrossing interpretation with new things to say about a much-studied conflagration. Color and b&w illus. (Mar.)" Publishers Weekly (Copyright PWyxz LLC)

Book News Annotation:

In this study of evangelical Christianity during the Civil War and Reconstruction periods, Goldfield (history, U. of North Carolina-Charlotte) shows how evangelical Christianity polarized political debate about the Western frontier, Roman Catholics, and especially slavery. The author regards evangelical Christianity as a toxic factor in limiting the options of political leaders. The book opens with the destruction of the Ursuline Convent in Charlestown Massachusetts by a Protestant mob in 1834, and concludes with the 1876 Centennial Exhibition. The author tells the story mainly through the lives of the second post-revolutionary generation that came of age in the 1830s, focusing especially on Harriet Beecher Stowe, Frederick Douglas, Abraham Lincoln, Alexander Stephens, and Walt Whitman. Annotation ©2011 Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknews.com)

Synopsis:

In this spellbinding history, David Goldfield offers the first major new interpretation of the Civil War era since James M. McPhersons Battle Cry of Freedom. Where other scholars have seen the conflict as a triumph of freedom, Goldfield paints it as Americas greatest failure: a breakdown of society caused by the infusion of evangelical religion into the world of politics.

The price of that failure was horrific, but the carnage accomplished what statesmen could not: It made the United States one nation and eliminated the divisive force of slavery. The victorious North moved ahead, a land of innovation and industry. Religion was supplanted by a gospel of economic and scientific progress, and the South was left behind. The "fiery trial" of war transformed our country—a conflagration captured in vivid detail in America Aflame.

Synopsis:

In this spellbinding new history, David Goldfield offers the first major new interpretation of the Civil War era since James M. McPherson's Battle Cry of Freedom. Where past scholars have limned the war as a triumph of freedom, Goldfield sees it as America's greatest failure: the result of a breakdown caused by the infusion of evangelical religion into the public sphere. As the Second GreatAwakening surged through America, political questions became matters of good and evil to be fought to the death.

The price of that failure was horrific, but the carnage accomplished what statesmen could not: It made the United States one nation and eliminated slavery as a divisive force in the Union. The victorious North became synonymous with America as a land of innovation and industrialization, whose teeming cities offered squalor and opportunity in equal measure. Religion was supplanted by science and a gospel of progress, and the South was left behind.

Goldfield's panoramic narrative, sweeping from the 1840s to the end of Reconstruction, is studded with memorable details and luminaries such as HarrietBeecher Stowe, Frederick Douglass, and Walt Whitman. There are lesser known yet equally compelling characters, too, including Carl Schurz-a German immigrant, warhero, and postwar reformer-and Alexander Stephens, the urbane and intellectual vice president of the Confederacy. America Aflame is a vivid portrait of the "fiery trial"that transformed the country we live in.

David Goldfield is the Robert Lee Bailey Professor of History at the University of North Carolina, Charlotte. He is the author of many works on Southern history, including Still Fighting the Civil War; Black, White, and Southern; and Promised Land.

About the Author

David Goldfield is the Robert Lee Bailey Professor of History at the University of North Carolina, Charlotte. He is the author of many works and textbooks on Southern history, including Still Fighting the Civil War, Southern Histories, Black, White and Southern, and Promised Land.

Product Details

ISBN:
9781596917026
Author:
Goldfield, David
Publisher:
Bloomsbury Publishing PLC
Subject:
United States - Civil War
Subject:
General History
Subject:
National characteristics, american
Subject:
United States - History - Civil War, 1861-
Subject:
United States / Civil War Period (1850-1877)
Subject:
US History-1800 to Civil War
Edition Description:
Trade paper
Publication Date:
20110331
Binding:
HARDCOVER
Grade Level:
General/trade
Language:
English
Illustrations:
BandW throughout
Pages:
640
Dimensions:
9 x 6 in 1 lb

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Related Subjects

Featured Titles » History and Social Science
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History and Social Science » World History » General

America Aflame: How the Civil War Created a Nation Used Hardcover
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Product details 640 pages Bloomsbury Publishing PLC - English 9781596917026 Reviews:
"Publishers Weekly Review" by , "This sweeping, provocative history of America from the 1830s through Reconstruction has two grand themes. One is the importance of evangelical Protestantism, particularly in the North and within the Republican Party, in changing slavery from a political problem to an intractable moral issue that could only be settled by bloodshed. The second is the Civil War's transformation of America into a modern industrial nation with a powerful government and a commercial, scientific outlook, even as the postwar South stagnated in racism and backward-looking religiosity. UNC-Charlotte historian Goldfield (Still Fighting the Civil War) courts controversy by shifting more responsibility for the conflict to an activist North and away from intransigent slaveholders, whom he likens to Indians, Mexicans, and other targets viewed by white evangelical Northerners as 'polluting' the spreading western frontier. Still, he presents a superb, stylishly written historical synthesis that insightfully foregrounds ideology, faith, and public mood The book is, the author writes, 'neither pro-southern nor pro-northern,' but rather 'antiwar.' Goldfield's narrative of the war proper is especially good, evoking the horror of the fighting and its impact on soldiers and civilians. The result is an ambitious, engrossing interpretation with new things to say about a much-studied conflagration. Color and b&w illus. (Mar.)" Publishers Weekly (Copyright PWyxz LLC)
"Synopsis" by , In this spellbinding history, David Goldfield offers the first major new interpretation of the Civil War era since James M. McPhersons Battle Cry of Freedom. Where other scholars have seen the conflict as a triumph of freedom, Goldfield paints it as Americas greatest failure: a breakdown of society caused by the infusion of evangelical religion into the world of politics.

The price of that failure was horrific, but the carnage accomplished what statesmen could not: It made the United States one nation and eliminated the divisive force of slavery. The victorious North moved ahead, a land of innovation and industry. Religion was supplanted by a gospel of economic and scientific progress, and the South was left behind. The "fiery trial" of war transformed our country—a conflagration captured in vivid detail in America Aflame.

"Synopsis" by ,

In this spellbinding new history, David Goldfield offers the first major new interpretation of the Civil War era since James M. McPherson's Battle Cry of Freedom. Where past scholars have limned the war as a triumph of freedom, Goldfield sees it as America's greatest failure: the result of a breakdown caused by the infusion of evangelical religion into the public sphere. As the Second GreatAwakening surged through America, political questions became matters of good and evil to be fought to the death.

The price of that failure was horrific, but the carnage accomplished what statesmen could not: It made the United States one nation and eliminated slavery as a divisive force in the Union. The victorious North became synonymous with America as a land of innovation and industrialization, whose teeming cities offered squalor and opportunity in equal measure. Religion was supplanted by science and a gospel of progress, and the South was left behind.

Goldfield's panoramic narrative, sweeping from the 1840s to the end of Reconstruction, is studded with memorable details and luminaries such as HarrietBeecher Stowe, Frederick Douglass, and Walt Whitman. There are lesser known yet equally compelling characters, too, including Carl Schurz-a German immigrant, warhero, and postwar reformer-and Alexander Stephens, the urbane and intellectual vice president of the Confederacy. America Aflame is a vivid portrait of the "fiery trial"that transformed the country we live in.

David Goldfield is the Robert Lee Bailey Professor of History at the University of North Carolina, Charlotte. He is the author of many works on Southern history, including Still Fighting the Civil War; Black, White, and Southern; and Promised Land.

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