The Battle Hymn of the Republic, by John Stauffer and Benjamin Soskis

Fall books

How did Julia Ward Howe’s pro–federal Union and abolitionist-inspired “Battle Hymn of the Republic” become the most recognizable American anthem of the 20th century? Why is it embraced by liberals and conservatives, radicals and businesspeople, whites, blacks and beyond? The story of the song, detailed exquisitely in this book by John Stauffer and Benjamin Soskis—respectively an esteemed professor of American history at Harvard and a newly minted Ph.D. from Columbia University—is more than a fascinating picture of the United States from the 19th century to the present. The book contains a multitude of stories that feature biracial friendships, social dramas and political intrigues. The whole tale is suffused with religious fervor. If you want to hear the harmonies within American civil religion as they sounded throughout American history, grab The Battle Hymn of the Republic and prepare to be moved.

 

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