From the Inside Flap
This book reconstructs the complete story of 'the city on a hill' from its Puritan origins to the present day for the first time. From John Winthrop's 1630 'Model of Christian Charity' and the history books of the nineteenth century to the metaphor's sudden prominence in the 1960s and Reagan's skillful incorporation of it into his rhetoric in the 80s, 'the city on a hill' has had a complex history: this history reveals much about received notions of American exceptionalism, America's identity as a Christian nation, and the impact of America's civil religion.
The conclusion considers the current status of 'the city on a hill' and summarizes what this story of national myth eclipsing biblical metaphor teaches us about the evolution of America's identity.
From the Back Cover
In Search of the City on a Hill is the most important study of the origins and of the evolution of a national myth. For the second time Richard Gamble took it upon himself to reveal and prove the insidious and particularly American historical tendency to employ religion for political purposes - indeed, to subordinate matters of faith to populist publicity, to enhance the latter by the former. This is a lone cry in the midst of a deafening wilderness, but one enriched with a most serious scholarly amassing of historical evidence.John Lukacs, author of Five Days in London: May 1940 and A New Republic
'Civil religion is voracious and will gobble up anything it thinks useful'. That stark observation of Rowland Sherrill has never been more conclusively proven than by Richard M. Gamble's In Search of the City on a Hill. His discovery of the recent and artificial provenance of a holy verse in the American Creed proves even more astounding for the evidence that doesn't exist than for the evidence it unearths. This concise masterpiece of historical detection blew my mind. It will also blow the circuits of misguided conservatives, neoconservatives, and evangelicals who have been duped (or duped others) into an idolatrous interpretation of their nation, their history, themselves.Walter A. McDougall, University of Pennsylvania, Pulitzer Prize-Winning Historian, author of Throes of Democracy: The American Civil War Era