Upon the Altar of the Nation

Upon the Altar of the Nation

A Moral History of the Civil War

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Additional Formats
  • Ebook
  • ISBN 9781101126721
  • 576 Pages
  • Penguin Books
  • Adult


A profound and timely examination of the moral underpinnings of the War Between the States

The Civil War was not only a war of armies but also a war of ideas, in which Union and Confederacy alike identified itself as a moral nation with God on its side. In this watershed book, Harry S. Stout measures the gap between those claims and the war’s actual conduct. Ranging from the home front to the trenches and drawing on a wealth of contemporary documents, Stout explores the lethal mix of propaganda and ideology that came to justify slaughter on and off the battlefield. At a time when our country is once again at war, Upon the Altar of the Nation is a deeply necessary book.


A triumph of scholarship, of interpretation, and (in the deepest sense) of historical understanding. (John Demos, National Book Award–winning author of The Unredeemed Captive)

Thought provoking . . . asks many of the right questions. (James M. McPherson, The New York Review of Books)