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|Title: A Holy Baptism of Fire and Blood: The Bible and the American Civil War|
By: James P. Byrd
Vendor: Oxford University Press
Publication Date: 2021
|Weight: 1 pound 8 ounces|
Stock No: WW902791
wielded as a weapon in support of both North and South.
As James P. Byrd reveals in this insightful narrative, no book was more important to the Civil War than the Bible. From Massachusetts to Mississippi and beyond, the Bible was the nation's most read and respected book. It presented a drama of salvation and damnation, of providence and judgment, of
sacred history and sacrifice. When Americans argued over the issues that divided them -- slavery, secession, patriotism, authority, white supremacy, and violence -- the Bible was the book they most often invoked. Soldiers fought the Civil War with Bibles in hand, and both sides called the war just
and sacred. In scripture, both Union and Confederate soldiers found inspiration for dying-and for killing-on a scale never before seen in the nation's history. With approximately 750,000 fatalities, the Civil War was the deadliest of the nation's wars, leading many to turn to the Bible not just to
fight but to deal with its inevitable trauma.
A fascinating overview of religious and military conflict, A Holy Baptism of Fire and Blood draws on an astonishing array of sources to demonstrate the many ways that Americans enlisted the Bible in the nation's bloodiest, and arguably most biblically-saturated conflict.
James P. Byrd is Chair of the Graduate Department Religion and Associate Professor of American Religious History at Vanderbilt University Divinity School. He earned his master's degree at Duke University and his Ph.D. at Vanderbilt University. He is the author of Sacred Scripture, Sacred War: The
Bible and the American Revolution (OUP, 2013).
"An eye-opening work for anyone wishing to truly understand the era...Essential." -- CHOICE
"It will no doubt contribute richly to a wealth of new studies at this intersection for years to come." -- Devin Singh, Dartmouth College, Chuch History
"Thorough and evocative." -- Church History
"A Holy Baptism of Fire and Blood provides the most thorough discussion to date of the Bible's role in the Civil War." -- David B. Parker, Kennesaw State University, Reading religion
"All told -- and there is much in James Byrd's insightful narrative -- A Holy Baptism of Fire & Blood is a unique and powerful first-hand recounting of the Civil War's ebb and flow through the elastic prism of the book most familiar to nineteenth-century Americans." -- Bruce T. Gourley, The Civil
War Book Review
"James P. Byrd has gifted readers with another comprehensively chronicled and extensively analyzed survey of how Americans, in the country's earliest decades, were politically inspired by the Bible ... As his second invaluable contribution to the interpretive history of the Bible in America makes
clear, it is Byrd's historically and spiritually attuned gifts that are beyond debate." -- Rabbi Dr. Stu Halpern, The Zahava and Moshael Straus Center for Torah and Western Thought
"Byrd integrates his discussion of biblical references so well into their historical contexts that the book could almost be read as a history of the war itself.... A Holy Baptism of Fire and Blood provides the most thorough discussion to date of the Bible's role in the Civil War." -- Reading
"[Starred Review] This study of the use of the Bible at a critical time in the history of the United States can shed light on our own times, when the Bible is often used in a political tug-of-war." -- Augustine J. Curley, Library Journal
"[Starred Review] Civil War buffs and Scripture enthusiasts alike will find this book to be a uniquely worthwhile reading experience." -- Kirkus
"For readers accustomed to encountering the Civil War through battlefield accounts and secular biographies, Mr. Byrd's book is revelatory. No recent historian has shed more clarifying light on the spiritual equipment that bolstered soldiers' hearts and shaped their moral determination. Illuminating
the faith they carried into battle along with their Bibles, as Mr. Byrd so eloquently does, helps us understand the inexplicable: how ordinary men by the tens and hundreds of thousands faced the imminent prospect of violent death or horrible maiming at Shiloh, Antietam, Cold Harbor and a thousand
other battlefields that made the war the bloodiest in the nation's history." -- Fergus Bordewich, Wall Street Journal
"Read the book, study the book, and reflect on the book. However, if nothing else, the Introduction and the Epilogue are a "must read" and worth the price of the book. Also, very helpful is the Appendix, "Biblical Citations in the Civil War Era." This is a landmark work to be read by any person
seeking to understand the role of faith in military history and especially, during the American Civil War." -- Timothy J. Demy, U.S. Naval War College, Cercles Recensions Book Reviews
"War is everywhere in the New Testament, as in the Old,' declared a Southern clergyman in 1863. The Bible was the most frequently cited book in both North and South during the Civil War. It served as a guide to explain the sacrifices and sufferings of soldiers and civilians. James Byrd's magisterial
study helps the modern reader appreciate the all-encompassing role of scripture in America's most deadly experience." -- James M. McPherson, author of Battle Cry of Freedom: The Civil War Era
"This remarkable examination of the use of the Bible in the Civil War, North and South, represents a new departure in Civil War historiography. Through an innovative and exhaustive quantitative compilation and analysis of scriptural references, James Byrd highlights the most important Scriptures
cited during the war and sets them in their broadest historical context. While the texts and interpretations varied widely in North and South, Byrd demonstrates in striking detail the truth of Lincoln's provocative assertion in his 2nd Inaugural that both sides "read the same bible and pray to the
same God." -- Harry S. Stout, Yale University
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