Synopses & Reviews
This insightful new conceptualization of American political history demonstrates thatandmdash;despite the clear separation of church and stateandmdash;religion lies at the heart of American politics. From the Puritan founding to the present day, the American story is a moral epic, James Morone says, and while moral fervor has inspired the dream of social justice it has also ignited our fiercest social conflicts.
From the colonial era to the present day, Americans embraced a Providential mission, tangled with devils, and aspired to save the world. Moral fervor ignited our fiercest social conflictsandmdash;but it also moved dreamers to remake the nation in the name of social justice. Moral crusades inspired abolition, woman suffrage, and civil rights, even as they led Americans to hang witches, enslave Africans, and ban liquor. Today these moral arguments continue, influencing the debate over everything from abortion to foreign policy.
Written with passion and deep insight, Hellfire Nation tells the story of a brawling, raucous, religious people. Morone shows how fears of sin and dreams of virtue defined the shape of the nation.
"Morone gestures briskly toward the moral issues surrounding modern war, but he turns most of his attention to a more easily domesticated theme: the rise and fall of the social gospel effort to subvert the purity crusaders' definition of sin. From the New Deal on, "the fault line would run right through the rest of the century vice versus illness, crime versus public health, individual sin versus social responsibility." By now Morone has nearly lost sight of sin altogether, as he traces moral conflict in recent American history through a series of familiar episodes: the civil rights movement and the white recoil against it; the movement to stop abortion; the war on drugs. The key to just about all these controversies was race, or so he insists." Jackson Lears, The New Republic
(read the entire New Republic review
"We need more studies like it even if we also need less prodding to regard the American liberal tradition as something taken purely on faith." Chris Lehmann
"Morone is an exciting writer. Rich in documentation and eloquent in purpose, Hellfire Nation couldn't be more timely." Tom D'Evelyn, Providence Journal
"The American Constitution firmly separates church and state. Yet religion lies at the heart of American polities. How did America become a nation with the soul of a church? In Hellfire Nation, James Morone recasts American history as a moral epic. From the colonial era to the present day, Americans embraced a Providential mission, tangled with devils, and aspired to save the world." Moral fervor ignited our fiercest social conflicts - but it also moved dreamers to remake the nation in the name of social justice. Moral crusades inspired abolition, woman suffrage, and civil rights, even as they led Americans to hand witches, enslave Africans, and ban liquor. Today moral arguments influence everything from abortion to impeachment, from education to foreign policy.
Written with passion and deep insight, "Hellfire Nation" tells the story of abrawling, raucous, righteous people, and shows how fears of sin and dreams ofvirtue define the shape of a nation. 43 illustrations.
This extraordinary retelling of American political history shows thatdespite the clear separation of church and statereligion lies at the heart of American politics.
This is American history the way I like it, prodigiously researched and vivaciously told. Mr. Morone has a knack for peeling off veneers, for locating the surprising fact, for adopting the unexpected and illuminating slant. He is a rarity, a scholar who is never boring.”Tracy Kidder, Pulitzer Prize-winning author of The Soul of a New Machine
Hellfire Nation [places] much of our public life in its proper soul-searching contextand its careful anatomy of the hand-in-glove relations between the American state and the American faithful is both welcome and illuminating.”Chris Lehmann, Washington Post Book World
About the Author
James A. Morone, professor of political science at Brown University, is also the author of The Democratic Wish: Popular Participation and the Limits of American Government.
Table of Contents
Us : the city on a hill -- Them : heretic, heathen, and witch -- The Puritans become America -- The wrath of God in Black and white -- Abolition! -- South : the proslavery argument -- North : the ragged chorus of the Union -- Purity and the woman's sphere -- White slaves and the modern witch-hunt -- Temperance : crucible of race and class -- Prohibition and the rise of big government -- The New Deal call to alms -- Manifest destiny in Cold War -- The sixties -- Modern morals.