Sword of the Spirit, Shield of Faith: Religion in American War and Diplomacy

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Sword of the Spirit, Shield of Faith: Religion in American War and Diplomacy

Format:  Paperback,

815 pages

Publisher: Random House Inc

Publish Date: Nov 2012

ISBN-13: 9781400078585

ISBN-10: 140007858X

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Book Information

The following content was provided by the publisher.
Winner of the Charles Taylor Prize for Literary Non-Fiction
Finalist for the Cundhill Prize in History
A richly detailed, profoundly engrossing story of how religion has influenced American foreign relations, told through the stories of the men and women--from presidents to preachers--who have plotted the country's course in the world.
Ever since John Winthrop argued that the Puritans' new home would be "a city upon a hill," Americans' role in the world has been shaped by their belief that God has something special in mind for them. But this is a story that historians have mostly ignored. Now, in the first authoritative work on the subject, Andrew Preston explores the major strains of religious fervor--liberal and conservative, pacifist and militant, internationalist and isolationist--that framed American thinking on international issues from the earliest colonial wars to the twenty-first century. He arrives at some startling conclusions, among them: Abraham Lincoln's use of religion in the Civil War became the model for subsequent wars of humanitarian intervention; nineteenth-century Protestant missionaries made up the first NGO to advance a global human rights agenda; religious liberty was the centerpiece of Franklin Roosevelt's strategy to bring the United States into World War II.
From George Washington to George W. Bush, from the Puritans to the present, from the colonial wars to the Cold War, religion has been one of America's most powerful sources of ideas about the wider world. When, just days after 9/11, George W. Bush described America as "a prayerful nation, a nation that prays to an almighty God for protection and for peace," or when Barack Obama spoke of balancing the "just war and the imperatives of a just peace" in his Nobel Peace Prize acceptance speech, they were echoing four hundred years of religious rhetoric. Preston traces this echo back to its source.
" "
"Sword of the Spirit, Shield of Faith" is an unprecedented achievement: no one has yet attempted such a bold synthesis of American history. It is also a remarkable work of balance and fair-mindedness about one of the most fraught subjects in America.

Specifications

Publisher: Random House Inc
Publish Date: Nov 2012
ISBN-13: 9781400078585
ISBN-10: 140007858X
Format: Paperback
Number of Pages: 815
Shipping Weight (in pounds): 1.3
Product in Inches (L x W x H): 5.25 x 8.0 x 1.5

Chapter outline

Prefacep. ix
Introductionp. 3
In the Beginningp. 15
Defenders of the Faithp. 19
God Is an Excellent Man of Warp. 31
Wars of Permanent Reformationp. 46
The American Revelationp. 71
The Harmony of the World Confoundedp. 77
Liberation Theologyp. 88
Imperial Destiniesp. 103
Absolutist Apostasiesp. 109
The Benevolent Empire, at Home and Abroadp. 122
Manifest Destiny and Its Discontentsp. 135
America's Missionp. 155
Abraham Lincoln and the First War of Humanitarian Interventionp. 161
Missionaries and the Imperialism of Human Rightsp. 175
An Also Chosen Peoplep. 198
Cuba, the Philippines, and the First Crusadep. 207
Woodrow Wilson and the Second Crusadep. 233
The Idealistic Synthesisp. 239
Onward Christian Soldiersp. 253
The Wilsonian Creedp. 275
Franklin Roosevelt and the Third Crusadep. 291
Princes of Peace and Prophets of Realismp. 297
The Simple Faith of Franklin Rooseveltp. 315
The Holocaust and the Moral Meaning of the Warp. 327
Spiritual Diplomacyp. 342
The Church Unmilitantp. 365
John Foster Dulles and the Quest for a Just and Durable Peacep. 384
The Cold War and the Fourth Crusadep. 411
The Faith of Harry Truman and the Theology of George Kennanp. 417
High Priests of the Cold War: Eisenhower and the Second Coming of Dullesp. 440
The Great Schism and the Myth of Consensusp. 465
Reformation and Counterreformationp. 497
The Revolutionary Church in a Revolutionary Agep. 501
The Valley of the Shadow of Deathp. 520
Get Thee Behind Me, Satanp. 539
A Judeo-Christian Foreign Policyp. 559
Ronald the Lionheartp. 574
Epilogue: The Last Crusade?p. 601
Abbreviationsp. 615
Notesp. 617
Bibliographyp. 699
Acknowledgmentsp. 779
Indexp. 783

Reviews

Review by Library Journal (2012-03-01)

In this extensive study, Preston (American & international relations history, Univ. of Cambridge, UK; The War Council: McGeorge Bundy, the NSC, and Vietnam) moves elegantly from Congregational colonialism's war with the Pequot through post-9/11 involvement in Afghanistan, tracing how American imperatives have been tinged with religious zeal. He cogently manages the breadth of his topic by use of such concepts as "Christian Republicanism", a persistent anti-Catholic strain, and serial U.S. "crusades" that started in Cuba and the Philippines in 1898 and have persisted in interventions ever since.

Preston reminds us that while religion is only a single component in America's relationship with the world, it plays a distinct role in that relationship. Historically, religion has helped aggregate the claims of government and the opposition. Preston tells his story through individuals: devout American Presidents, zealous missionaries, and original thinkers such as James R. Mott and Reinhold Niebuhr. While Preston avoids commenting on current political issues, his book is relevant to questions such as the debates between libertarians and social conservatives. He sees the recent surge in Christian fundamentalism and evangelism as rooted in the McCarthy era.

Verdict: Such a broadly conceived book not only will provoke controversy but also will appeal to readers beyond students of American history and religion.

-Zachary T. Irwin, Pennsylvania State Univ., Erie

(c) Copyright 2012. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Awards and Recognitions

  • Charles Taylor Prize for Literary Non-Fiction, 2013 (Canada)

Book description

Winner of the Charles Taylor Prize for Literary Non-Fiction

Finalist for the Cundhill Prize in History

A richly detailed, profoundly engrossing story of how religion has influenced American foreign relations, told through the stories of the men and women—from presidents to preachers—who have plotted the country’s course in the world.

Ever since John Winthrop argued that the Puritans’ new home would be “a city upon a hill,” Americans’ role in the world has been shaped by their belief that God has something special in mind for them. But this is a story that historians have mostly ignored. Now, in the first authoritative work on the subject, Andrew Preston explores the major strains of religious fervor—liberal and conservative, pacifist and militant, internationalist and isolationist—that framed American thinking on international issues from the earliest colonial wars to the twenty-first century. He arrives at some startling conclusions, among them: Abraham Lincoln’s use of religion in the Civil War became the model for subsequent wars of humanitarian intervention; nineteenth-century Protestant missionaries made up the first NGO to advance a global human rights agenda; religious liberty was the centerpiece of Franklin Roosevelt’s strategy to bring the United States into World War II.

From George Washington to George W. Bush, from the Puritans to the present, from the colonial wars to the Cold War, religion has been one of America’s most powerful sources of ideas about the wider world. When, just days after 9/11, George W. Bush described America as “a prayerful nation, a nation that prays to an almighty God for protection and for peace,” or when Barack Obama spoke of balancing the “just war and the imperatives of a just peace” in his Nobel Peace Prize acceptance speech, they were echoing four hundred years of religious rhetoric. Preston traces this echo back to its source.

Sword of the Spirit, Shield of Faith is an unprecedented achievement: no one has yet attempted such a bold synthesis of American history. It is also a remarkable work of balance and fair-mindedness about one of the most fraught subjects in America.

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