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Famed historian Goldfield to present new perspective on Civil War on Feb. 4

1/17/2014

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CLARKSVILLE, Tenn. – In August 1834, an angry Protestant mob entered a Catholic convent outside of Boston, broke windows and furniture and then set the building on fire. The next morning, the ruins of this small convent smoldered, but the fire of religious unease, which had ignited the riot, would continue to burn for another 30 years. According to noted historian David Goldfield, the next flare-up of violence would occur in 1861 with the outbreak of the American Civil War.

Goldfield, the Robert Lee Bailey Professor of History at the University of North Carolina, Charlotte, offers a fascinating, fresh look at this period of American history in his new book, “America Aflame: How the Civil War Created a Nation.” At 4 p.m. on Feb. 4, Goldfield will discuss his book during a special lecture in the Austin Peay State University Morgan University Center Ballroom. The event, which is sponsored by the APSU Department of History and Philosophy and the Phi Alpha Theta History Honor Society, is free and open to the public, and a book signing will follow.

“My main concerns are how we got into the war, how the war transformed the men who fought, and how America came out of the war,” Goldfield writes in the books introduction. “These are the itineraries of countless other authors. I hope, however, my treatment of the war’s origins, the conflict itself, and its aftermath will enable the readers to view the Civil War from a new perspective.”

The book examines how evangelical religion entered into American politics at that time, initiating an uneasy relationship that has sustained itself for the last 150 years. A review in the New York Times praised Goldfield’s work, stating, “Most history books try to explain the past. The exceptional ones, of which ‘America Aflame’ is a distinguished example, remind us that the past is ultimately as inscrutable as the future.”

The Los Angeles Times called it “a monumental new appraisal of the war.”

Goldfield also is the author of such noted books as “Still Fighting the Civil War: The American South and Southern History” and “Southern Histories: Public, Personal, and Sacred.”

For more information on the Feb. 4 lecture, contact the APSU Department of History and Philosophy at 221-7919.

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