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Hellfire Nation: The Politics of Sin in American History Hardcover – February 8, 2003
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A lively and informative study on the importance of religion and sin to the evolution of the American state. -- Conscience: A News Journal of Catholic Opinion
Morone is an exciting writer. Rich in documentation and eloquent in purpose, Hellfire Nation couldn't be more timely. -- (Tom D'Evelyn, Providence Journal)
Top Customer Reviews
And yes, this is a very refreshing and fascinating way in which to view history. Morone's basic thesis is that a) "popular" American morality is frequently cited as the only thing that can protect "us" from "them," whether "they" are blacks, the Irish, Jews, et cetera, and b) that this emphasis on those frightening Un-Americans is what fuels "moral fanaticism," like prohibition, Comstockery, the VD/social hygiene movement, c) and from this, laws are put into place which persist long after their spawning social movements have died down, leaving them in the hand of fanatics. The thesis doesn't just hold up; it *thrives*, adequately explaining many facets of much of American moral history, and while Morone's constant repetition of the final point stated above (that fanaticism eventually dies down, leading a select few to continue its legacy to the detriment of a no-longer-incensed society) becomes a bit wearisome, it really does show how *well* so many social events fit into this pattern.
Verdict? Yes, Morone's clearly "biased," if one must use that term, to a classical liberal side of things (i.e.Read more ›
Professor Marone reconsiders our national history, in its more wrenching periods, as the struggle for a shifting moral high ground. The result is literally stunning, uprooting, and wise.
History buffs support an entire industry that is spinning out "how-then, what-now" books about the founders, the civil war and the current hit parade of latter day pols. Professor Marone delivers something very different: a brilliant archeology of the winner-take-all contest for righteousness that has so thoroughly characterized our national life, from John Winthrop to yesterday afternoon.
And he can write: in places a little breezily, in others quite densely, but always clearly and engagingly.
Professor Morone's personal political stance is clear enough, and yes, it's left of Fox News. I can only hope that people who don't share his views on the present will take time to relish this masterful, sweeping interpretation of our past.
The book is a unique look at the history of America, which expounds the moral fervor that has ignited the fiercest social conflicts and engendered major social movments.
"For better and for worse, moral conflicts made America," says Morone.
At the end, Morone presents an insightful and inspiring call to a different type of moral politics (which was unfortunately misunderstood by Garrow in his New York Times review).
This book is recommended to those interested in attaining a better understanding of American politics and our post 9/11 world.
Mirine's book ha a serious undercurrent as well. As a historical institutionalist, he sees morality politics as path dependent, that is, the pattern of morality politics developed in earliest colonial America has persisted to the present day with periodic alterations to address the exigencies of new eras.
From the moment the Puritans arrived in New England to set up a novel commonwealth, they had to decide who was in and who was not. Indians? Women? Unproven "saints"?
Ever since, says Morone, established groups have asked "Who are we?" and they have usually provided a moral (I would say, moralistic) answer. And that answer almost always excluded women, newcomers, people of other religions, colored people. In fact, at various times it included everyone: women, children and teenagers; blacks, browns, yellows, reds and Reds; workers; Catholics, Jews, Quakers, Baptists and Muslims; drinkers and dopers; Irish, Italians and Slavs; Protestants who believed in being saved by works.
Over and over, panic developed that the newcomers were taking over, or at the least, they would enervate the true blue Americans.
He stands the whiggish narrative of individualism and liberty on its head, pointing out that it was the king in England who struck one of the first, shrewdest blows in the march toward American freedom by forcing the Puritans in New England to stop hanging Quakers.
More provocatively, he skewers the narrative of individualism and small government by showing that in almost every panic, the old guard gave its government new powers and that, once the panic subsided, the institutions of power remained.
Prohibition of liquor was repealed (except locally) but the apparatus of repression stayed and was refurbished to wage the war on drugs.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
The footnotes in the Kindle edition are not hypertext-linked. TackyPublished 3 months ago by Cynthia R. Grace
How horrifying to be reminded of our own religion-based rage. Not just intolerance for vice, but a rage not that far from ISIS.Published 17 months ago by Minnesotan
If you want to see the power of religion in politics in America from the very beginning read this book.Published 22 months ago by David E. Erickson
Just starting out - interesting but language taking a little getting used to at this early stage of my reading.Published on August 17, 2013 by steve konetschka
Many people over the years have written about the influence of the Puritans. None of them, however, have drawn such a direct link from that influence to the way U.S. Read morePublished on March 29, 2013 by Gregory J. Jemsek, author
The books shipped to me by Goodwill beat my expectations every time. I wish all my book purchases were faster and better than promised, like Goodwill has done. Read morePublished on April 6, 2012 by jniz
I had a difficult time putting this book down for it is revelant to our current political climate. Two of my close friends have ordered this book after browsing through my copy. Read morePublished on September 7, 2011 by Shele
August 9, 2010
SHOULD BE IN EVERY HISTORY CLASSROOM IN AMERICA
A Hellfire Nation Toasts the Immigrants
As we reflect upon the state of the Union in the... Read more