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

It took only a court order in Great Britain, followed by peaceful protests within the rest of the Empire. In Russia, the conflict was largely confined to conservative and liberal nobility. So why did it take a civil war to end human bondage in America?

To David Goldfield, the course of the Civil War was set long before the first shots were fired on Fort Sumter; it was decades earlier, with the Second Great Awakening, when evangelical religion became entangled with political debate. As mass religious revivals crossed the nation, questions of politics became matters of good and evil — and no legislation could answer the biblical fury marshaled by abolitionists and slave-owners alike.

In America Aflame, Goldfield examines figures well-known and all-but-forgotten who defined the rhetoric of that era, and shows how the outcome of the Civil War — victorious, innovative North and defeated, nostalgic South — set the tone for the century to come.

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.