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Baptized in Blood: The Religion of the Lost Cause, 1865-1920 Paperback – August 1, 1983

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Editorial Reviews


Destined to be the definitive essay on the relation between religion and southern regional patriotism.

(Journal of Southern History)

This interesting and valuable study breaks new ground in Reconstruction and New South history. . . . What makes this volume significant is both the demonstrated usefulness of the theory of civil religion in the hands of a historian and the fresh substantive contribution to the history of the South's tragic experience.

(American Historical Review)

Baptized in Blood persuasively details the power of the Lost Cause message as well as suggests the need to speak about the civil religions (plural) of America.

(Religious Studies Review)

Wilson has written a fascinating book in which he has demonstrated more forcefully than other historians have that religion played a significant role in perpetuating the Lost Cause.

(History: Reviews of New Books)

Previous historians have portrayed most ministers of the region as enthusiastic apostles of industrialization, but Wilson demonstrates Southern evangelicals' lingering, brooding resistance to these changes.

(Catholic Historical Review)

An important contribution to a growing body of scholarly literature on civil religion . . . The author's insights are enriched by an obvious grasp of historiography, sociology, and anthropology. Laymen as well as scholars interested in the South and civil religion will want to examine this work.

(Journal of Church and State)

This study merits reading not only because it explores the delicate fusion of religious and cultural forces, but also because of the careful research which undergirds its arguments.

(Journal of the American Academy of Religion)

If the South cannot escape its history, perhaps it is because it does not want to. Wilson's magnificent book on the religion of the Lost Cause drives that point home forcefully. . . . He skillfully weaves together the strands of thought that produced the Lost Cause and shows that evangelical ministers had a large hand in the process.

(Theology Today) --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

About the Author

Charles Reagan Wilson is Kelly Gene Cook, Sr., Chair in History and Professor of Southern Studies at the University of Mississippi. He is the author of Judgment and Grace in Dixie: Southern Faiths from Faulkner to Elvis, Baptized in Blood: The Religion of the Lost Cause, 1865–1920, (both Georgia) and general editor of The New Encyclopedia of Southern Culture.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 264 pages
  • Publisher: University of Georgia Press (August 1, 1983)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0820306819
  • ISBN-13: 978-0820306810
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.6 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.1 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (9 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,753,615 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

27 of 29 people found the following review helpful By Michael K. Turner on May 17, 2000
Format: Paperback
Charles Reagan Wilson's work brilliantly describes the civil religion (as described by Geertz) of the "Lost Cause" that was pervasive in the Reconstruction and Early Modern South.
Wilson argues that this civil religion was a combination of Christian and Confederate symbols. According to Wilson this civil religion was formed out of Confederate ministers attempts to reconcile defeat in the war with the Will of God and (as the ministers believed) Confederate righteousness.
Significant in this study is Wilson's look at the role that White Supremacy played in this civil religion. He looks extensively at the role of racism as embodied in groups such as the KKK.
All in all, the work is a brilliant look at ideas pervasive in the reconstruction and early modern south, ideas which have been influential in formation of the modern New South.
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30 of 38 people found the following review helpful By Elic Llewellyn on April 5, 2002
Format: Paperback
Wilson's Baptized in Blood is a brilliant book, one of which I was required to read for a graduate history course on religion in the American south. Although I was born and grew up in the south, I nevertheless was a foreigner there. There was much in the psychology of southerners which made no sense to me. Reading Baptized in Blood was an extraordinary eye-opener! Though I am yet and always will be a stranger in the land of my birth, through the cogent narrative Wilson provides, I understand more deeply now the mythic, psychological origins of the many peculiar and bizarre thoughts, feelings and behaviours of southerners. Southerners REALLY and TRULY BELIEVED that GOD was on their side, in the prosecution of the civil war, and have had to reconcile their defeat as best they could. The inability to let go of that loss goes far in making southerners what they are.
Baptized in Blood is well worth the reading of anyone who seeks to understand the post-civil war period, and/or the social and political psychology of the American south.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Frank Bellizzi on April 19, 2014
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I know, the title of this book sounds like a slasher film, right? So what's it really about? To use the words of the author, historian Charles Reagan Wilson, it's about "the afterlife of a Redeemer Nation that died" but that nonetheless continued "as a sacred presence, a holy ghost haunting the spirits and actions of post-Civil War Southerners." After the War, it was painfully obvious to Southerners that they were never going to constitute a separate political state. However, they could possess "a separate cultural identity." And that's what they set out to establish and define. At the heart of this separate cultural identity was religion. Wilson says that his book is a study of the link between religion and history in the American South from the end of the Civil War to the end of World War I. Then and there, "Southern civil religion . . . tied together Christian churches and Southern culture." Pick up any academic reading list for Religion and the American South, and you're bound to see the title of this book. Baptized in Blood has earned its place as a landmark volume. Because of its quality and its unique contribution to the historiography of the topic, this book deserves five stars.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By James T. Olsen on June 28, 2015
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Want to understand the issues over the confederate flag & how the Soutjh viewed it & pastor's preached it about it, Southern historians reconstructed history ???then this is a must read!!
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4 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Liz Diggs on March 6, 2012
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
The story of the Lost Cause is the untold story of the aftermath of the Civil War. It is the key to understanding the hold of white supremacy in the South for the last 150 years. Charles Reagan Wilson describes and documents the hold that this philosophy still has on our history, and the distortions that have become a belief system for hundreds of thousands of people, who learned this "white-washed" history from kindergarten through university. It is the tragic story of the struggle of our country to come to terms with the slaves who were brought here in chains. They have been part of our history since slave ships first arrived in Jamestown in the 1690's.

The book is riveting. The scholarship is meticulous. I could not put it down. I recommend it without reservation to anyone who wants to understand the history of our country.
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