David Goldfield is the Robert Lee Bailey Professor of History at UNC-Charlotte. He has been the Editor for the Journal of Urban History for several years and has authored numerous books, including America Aflame: How the Civil War Created a Nation. Two of his books were nominated for a Pulitzer Prize and he is recognized as one of the leading U.S. scholars on urban history.
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.