America Aflame by David Goldfield
How the Civil War Created a Nation

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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.

 

About David Goldfield

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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.
 
Published March 15, 2011 by Bloomsbury Press. 641 pages
Genres: History, War, Science & Math, Law & Philosophy. Non-fiction

Unrated Critic Reviews for America Aflame

Kirkus Reviews

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Although Goldfield is not the first to consider religion as a leading element in the Civil War, he elevates its influence by exploring the permeation of nearly every facet of American cultural life by religious thought.

Jan 15 2011 | Read Full Review of America Aflame: How the Civil...

The New York Times

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A historian asks whether the country might have spared itself the carnage of the Civil War.

Mar 25 2011 | Read Full Review of America Aflame: How the Civil...

Publishers Weekly

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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 "pol...

Jan 03 2011 | Read Full Review of America Aflame: How the Civil...

Christian Science Monitor

By David Holahan / March 16, 2011 With some 50,000 books published on the American Civil War – and many more in the pipeline this year as 2011 marks the 150th anniversary of the war’s be...

Mar 16 2011 | Read Full Review of America Aflame: How the Civil...

Dallas News

In America Aflame: How the Civil War Created a Nation, he starts with a provocative claim: that the Civil War might have been avoided altogether.

Apr 01 2011 | Read Full Review of America Aflame: How the Civil...

Portland Book Review

Professor Goldfield’s book places the Civil War within the entirety of its context as a continuation and completion of the Revolutionary War.

Jun 06 2011 | Read Full Review of America Aflame: How the Civil...

Bookmarks Magazine

The victorious North became synonymous with America as a land of innovation and industrialization, whose teeming cities offered squalor and opportunity in equal measure.

Mar 20 2011 | Read Full Review of America Aflame: How the Civil...

The Roanoke Times

It was compromise in Philadelphia in 1787 that allowed slavery to continue in this “land of the free.” In 1850, another compromise allowed for the expansion of slavery to new states west of the Mississippi River.

May 10 2011 | Read Full Review of America Aflame: How the Civil...

The Gospel Coalition

(How does Goldfield know this?) It's only fitting that, having dragged the nation into war, northern evangelicals would have to watch helplessly as the war destroyed their faith.

| Read Full Review of America Aflame: How the Civil...

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