For author Harry Stout, the legitimacy of going to war (jus ad bellum) is one thing; the legitimacy of how the war is conducted (jus in bello) is another. The moral problem of the Civil War does not lie in the decision to go to battle—according to Stout, preserving the Union and eradicating slavery offered reason enough. He makes clear that he is not a pacifist and that fighting is sometimes a lesser evil. Rather, the moral problem lies in how the war was conducted.
Paul Shepherd’s novel concerns the complex brew of loyalty and judgment that often characterizes relationships between father and son. This impressive debut novel resembles Marilynne Robinson’s Gilead with its masterful characterization, narrative economy, finely tuned prose and attention to the inner contours of spiritual dilemmas.
With a clever convergence of biblical texts, ancient Near Eastern literature, archaeology, and fictive imagination that is not fictitious, Beach weaves a new account of Jezebel and Ahab from the perspective of Jezebel.
As the defining crisis in American history gathered momentum and became civil war, ministers in both the North and the South spoke with authority, even defiance, about the overriding purposes of God. The impact was sobering. Precisely at a time when Protestant influence on national values had no real rivals, America collapsed into a war over the decisive moral issue of the day.