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America Aflame

How the Civil War Created a Nation

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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.

From Publishers Weekly

Jan 03, 2011 – 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.

Customer Reviews


The same price as a hardbound copy? Ridiculous!

America Aflame
View in iTunes
  • $13.99
  • Available on iPhone, iPad, iPod touch, and Mac.
  • Category: History
  • Published: Mar 15, 2011
  • Publisher: Bloomsbury Publishing
  • Seller: INscribe Digital
  • Print Length: 640 Pages
  • Language: English
  • Requirements: To view this book, you must have an iOS device with iBooks 1.3.1 or later and iOS 4.3.3 or later, or a Mac with iBooks 1.0 or later and OS X 10.9 or later.

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