Synopses & Reviews
In this wide-ranging, brilliantly researched work, David S. Reynolds traces the factors that made Uncle Tom's Cabin the most influential novel ever written by an American. Upon its 1852 publication, the novel's vivid depiction of slavery polarized its American readership, ultimately widening the rift that led to the Civil War. Reynolds also charts the novel's afterlife--including its adaptation into plays, films, and consumer goods--revealing its lasting impact on American entertainment, advertising, and race relations.
"A splendid and subtle history."--Fergus M. Bordewich, Wall Street Journal
"Consistently enlightening. . . . Mightier than the Sword deftly explores the social-intellectual context and personal experience out of which Stowe's novel evolved into a grand entertainment and a titanic engine of change."--Dan Cryer, Boston Globe
"Reynolds has given us another cultural history of assured mastery, a history that combines deep erudition, lightly worn, with a lively and readable style."--Tim Redman, Dallas Morning News
Uncle Tom's Cabin is likely the most influential novel ever written by an American. In a fitting tribute to the two hundredth anniversary of Harriet Beecher Stowe's birth, Bancroft Prize-winning historian David S. Reynolds reveals her book's impact not only on the abolitionist movement and the American Civil War but also on worldwide events, including the end of serfdom in Russia, down to its influence in the twentieth century. He explores how both Stowe's background as the daughter in a famously intellectual family of preachers and her religious visions were fundamental to the novel. And he demonstrates why the book was beloved by millions and won over even some southerners while fueling lasting conflicts over the meaning of America. Although vilified over the years as often as praised, it has remained a cultural landmark, proliferating in the form of plays, songs, films, and merchandise a rich legacy that has both fed and contested American racial stereotypes.
"Fascinating . . . a lively and perceptive cultural history." --Annette Gordon-Reed,
About the Author
David S. Reynolds is Distinguished Professor of English and American Studies at the Graduate Center of the City University of New York. His books include Walt Whitman's America: A Cultural Biography; John Brown, Abolitionist; Beneath the American Renaissance: The Subversive Imagination in the Age of Emerson and Melville; Mightier Than the Sword: "Uncle Tom's Cabin" and the Battle for America; Waking Giant: America in the Age of Jackson; Walt Whitman; George Lippard; and Faith in Fiction: The Emergence of Religious Literature in America. Reynolds is the editor or coeditor of seven books, including Whitman's Leaves of Grass: The 150th Anniversary Edition, A Historical Guide to Walt Whitman, Harriet Beecher Stowe's Uncle Tom's Cabin: The Splendid Edition, and George Lippard's The Quaker City; or, The Monks of Monk Hall. He is the winner of the Bancroft Prize, the Christian Gauss Award, the Ambassador Book Award, the Gustavus Myers Outstanding Book Prize and has been a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award. He is a regular contributor to the New York Times Book Review.