America Aflame: How the Civil War Created a Nation Audiobook | David Goldfield | Audible.com
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America Aflame: How the Civil War Created a Nation | [David Goldfield]

America Aflame: How the Civil War Created a Nation

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 interpreted 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.
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Publisher's Summary

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 interpreted 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 Great Awakening 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 Harriet Beecher Stowe, Frederick Douglass, and Walt Whitman. There are lesser known yet equally compelling characters, too, including Carl Schurz---a German immigrant, war hero, and post-war 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.

©2011 David Goldfield (P)2011 Tantor

What the Critics Say

"Not just a reappraisal of the Civil War, but an exemplary cultural study of 19th-century America." (Kirkus, Starred Review)

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  • Marcus
    London, United Kingdom
    6/20/11
    Overall
    "4 star battle narrative, 3 star history"

    This book is divided into roughly three equal sections, dealing with the causes of the civil war, the course of the war and finally it's aftermath. The best section is the course of the war and I would give this 4 stars.  My problem is with the other two sections.  Firstly the author quotes extensively from first hand accounts, which is not to my taste.  The narrative tends to drift as a range of  historical characters are used to reflect the proceedings.  Some of the stories are good but unless you have a good grasp of American history of this period you may lose the threads of the main arguments.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
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