It focuses more heavily on the evangelical religious impulses interwoven through antebellum America society than perhaps other histories have done, and certainly those religious revivals played a more important role than has hitherto been acknowledged, but I'm not sure that entirely qualifies as a whole new interpretation of the War. Goldfield's central thesi This book is billed as a major new interpretation of the Civil War, but to be honest I'm not sure how 'new' an interpretation it really is.
Goldfield's central thesis is that the rise of evangelical religion and its intrusion into politics is largely what led to the schism between North and South. When both sides believe their culture, way of life and beliefs to be not just preferable, not just right, but divinely sanctified, compromise is inevitably all but impossible. To the North, slavery was not just wrong, but evil. To the South, their way of life, slavery and all, was a divine blessing and the slave's role part of the natural order ordained by God.
Once God starts to be invoked, conflict is usually inevitable, as the stakes become so much greater than simple politics or economics. In support of this argument, Goldfield connects the evangelical impulses to the strong anti-Catholicism of the time that infused other major political issues of the day such as anti-immigration and nativism. It's a fine theory, and one I can well believe.
He writes well in support of it, and this is an excellent examination of antebellum America from the s onwards, quite apart from this new angle in the causes of the conflict. The book loses a little steam during the post-war narrative where his narrative deviates somewhat from the central thesis - if Civil War America was a direct result of these evangelical impulses, post-war America was a result of, well, the War and the religious angle loses focus.
American History Book Review: America Aflame
So a fine book and an excellent addition to any Civil War library, but perhaps not quite a ground-breaking as the publicists would have you believe. View 1 comment. May 21, Jay Perkins rated it really liked it Shelves: history-us-civilwar. David Goldfield argues that uncompromising evangelical rhetoric was one of the main reasons why the Civil War was not averted. His thesis is very convincing. How could either side lay down their arms in what he calls a holy "crusade"?
But "America Aflame" includes more than that. The cracks of antebellum America to the failures of Reconstruction are explored and discussed. Topics like the post war failure of civil rights in the south, the fall of evangelical influence in the north while it rose David Goldfield argues that uncompromising evangelical rhetoric was one of the main reasons why the Civil War was not averted. Topics like the post war failure of civil rights in the south, the fall of evangelical influence in the north while it rose in the south, and the importance of Darwinian ideology after the war are also explained.
Though his target audience is broad, this book should especially be read by current American evangelicals. Evangelicalism was the most influential force in the years between the Revolution and the Civil War. The failure of evangelicals to use this influence for positive means in both North and especially the South helped cause this terrible American tragedy.
Mar 18, Ruth rated it it was amazing. I have zero interest in the Civil War. In the first 50 pages of this book I was almost ready to hang it up. And then I was hooked. So many amazing stories I hadn't a clue about. And Goldfield has a great sense of humor. I was turning these pages like an addict, and then I was so disappointed when I had turned the last one. I should add that the author is very balanced in his assesments of the many tricky issues involved in this story. You can trust him not to have an agenda. Reading this book I have zero interest in the Civil War.
Reading this book was a total blast. Aug 30, Cristina rated it it was ok Shelves: civil-war. Interesting read, but the thesis is hidden.
America Aflame: How the Civil War Created a Nation (Hardcover) | Skylight Books
He talks too much about the influence of evangelical extremists and how it aided the start of the Civil War, yet his overall thesis seems to be how the Civil War brought about the era of a new nation. Jun 16, David added it. When I picked this up, based on an internet controversy, I looked at it and thought, " page book about the Civil War? I'm not so sure.
How the Civil War Created a Nation
There are many questions I would ask about economics and class, but the emphasis on the Evangelicals is quite interesting. Not so much new under our national sun. Apr 15, Anthony rated it it was amazing Shelves: civil-war , american-history. An excellent history of the Civil War and its prelude and postlude. What is particularly interesting is the role that narrow-minded religious and political zealotry played in tearing the country apart. Should be a lesson for Americans to heed today.
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Jan 26, Jan Underhill rated it it was amazing. Dense and absorbing, this account of the Civil War brought the events and issues to life for me. Apr 17, Joe Marshall rated it really liked it Recommends it for: Anyone with an interest in history or politics. Good summary of the events and ideas that lead to the Civil War, the War, and the aftermath.
Lots of parallels to now worth noting. If you're interested in current political events read this book. Jun 04, Todd Stockslager rated it liked it Shelves: history. Review title: Evangelical Christians started the Civil War, and it was a great disaster That is the these David Goldfield proposes, which wasn't what I was expecting based on the subtitle "How the Civil War created a nation". I had hoped, based on that phrase, to learn more about how Lincoln's daring assumptions of political power in the name of preserving the union after the conflict translated into the radically new not just renewed or restored concept of the "United States" after the war.
In Review title: Evangelical Christians started the Civil War, and it was a great disaster That is the these David Goldfield proposes, which wasn't what I was expecting based on the subtitle "How the Civil War created a nation". Why can't we all just get along, I say?
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Lets just reinstate slavery and eliminate education and literacy while we're at it. That lead to the Civil War, which was America's greatest failure! In the introduction, Goldfield even promises to use Lincoln as one of his key narrative characters; how he will turn Lincoln into an evangelical is something I have to see!
boosfihorta.tk He starts out on logically shaky ground by going back to the Lincoln-Douglas debates of where Linocoln's position "A House Divided" was based on Matthew where Jesus is quoted saying "a house divided against itself shall not stand. I'll read on. One might even suspect that Goldfield himself doesn't really believe his argument.
In the burned-over region of Civil War scholarship, getting noticed requires flashy thinking, and by raising the spector of evil Christianity against peace-loving slaveholders who just want to be recognized as full participants in the benefits of the American system yes, he seriously does make that argument the cynic could be forgiven for suggesting that Goldfield seems to feel he's latched onto just the kind of thinking that will get him noticed.
And in fact, once past the introduction and the chapters laying the origins of the war at the feet of evangelical Christianity, he settles into a straightforward and quite readable narrative of the War and its aftermath. It is hard to find in Goldfield's arguments the evil hands of evangelicalism at work, or the sweeping assertion that the War was a great disaster. Make no mistake, the Civil War was a great evil, with the loss of life, the suffering on the battlefield and off, that has scarred the American landscape and lives eveyr day since. But I don't think even Goldfield really thinks it a disaster, no matter how boldly he states it.
Consider his summary p. They are the two pinciples that have stood face to face from the beginning of time and will ever continue to struggle.