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Extended Audio Sample America Aflame: How the Civil War Created a Nation Audiobook, by David Goldfield Click for printable size audiobook cover
4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 4.00 (15 ratings) (rate this audio book) Author: David Goldfield Narrator: David Drummond Publisher: Tantor Format: Unabridged Audiobook Delivery: Instant Download Audio Length: Release Date: March 2011 ISBN: 9781452671567
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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 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.

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Quotes & Awards

  • “Sweeping, provocative…he presents a superb, stylishly written historical synthesis that insightfully foregrounds ideology, faith, and public mood…The result is an ambitious, engrossing interpretation with new things to say about a much-studied conflagration.”

    Publishers Weekly (starred review)

Listener Opinions

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Ian Henzel | 2/11/2014

    " Excellent analysis of the period of American history from before the Civil War through reconstruction. Unique was the look at the role rising evangelical Christianity played in the North before the war, and how it fed the anti-slavery movement, and then how it shifted after the war to the South and kept them from moving forward. For me, it helped to provide insight into how the US developed socially and how we got to where we are today. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Charles Kristofek | 2/6/2014

    " Portions were very enlightening. The ugly southern mentality is well documented and sounds a lot like the tea party mentality today. The failure of reconstruction due to the southern insurgency (much like Muslim countries of the 21st century) and the mis-application of Darwin's theory of evolution to justify racism was detailed nicely. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Joe Marshall | 1/3/2014

    " 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. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Jan Underhill | 12/26/2013

    " Dense and absorbing, this account of the Civil War brought the events and issues to life for me. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Steve | 11/20/2013

    " Interesting overview of what America was like before the Civil War, During the Civil War, and how it developed and grew after the Civil War. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Anthony | 10/28/2013

    " 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. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Norman | 5/27/2013

    " So far, very stunning study of the history and development of racism in the US. Also, sustaining my earnest intrigue with Pres. Lincoln and his impact upon us, as well as the impact of his early exit. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Tod Boorkman | 4/27/2013

    " Great book extremely well written. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Casey | 9/9/2012

    " The book focused on religions' role before, during, and after the Civil War. Each side held deep convictions, so what does it mean when God doesn't answer you the way you want? How do move forward without hatred? "

  • 1 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 5 Tim | 9/5/2012

    " Synthesis and conjecture, but not very good at either. Tries hard to be provocative, but its original research is minimal and its conclusions dubious. More later as I have time. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Andy Clark | 8/2/2012

    " Very good overview stressing themes of religion, prejudice, and politics. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Carol Buchanan | 6/21/2012

    " This book turned out to be far more than the author discussed in the introduction. Althugh I'm still not sure if I agree in blaming evangelical Christianity for the Civil War, they were at the forefront in the struggle against slavery and in favor of equality for black people. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Carl Johnson | 11/7/2011

    " A social-political history of the civil war era that is one of the most disturbing books that I have ever read. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Joe | 4/17/2011

    " 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. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Tony | 4/15/2011

    " 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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About the Author

David Goldfield is the Robert Lee Bailey professor of history at the University of North Carolina–Charlotte. A native of Memphis, Tennessee, he grew up in Brooklyn, New York, and attended the University of Maryland. He is the author of many works and textbooks on Southern American history, including Still Fighting the Civil War; Southern Histories; Black, White, and Southern; and Promised Land.

About the Narrator

David Drummond has made his living as an actor for over twenty-five years, appearing on stages large and small throughout the country and in Seattle, Washington, his hometown. He has narrated over thirty audiobooks, in genres ranging from current political commentary to historical nonfiction, fantasy, military, thrillers, and humor. He received an AudioFile Earphones Award for his first audiobook, Love ’Em or Lose ’Em: Getting Good People to Stay. When not narrating, he keeps busy writing plays and stories for children.