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BOOK REVIEWS253 tation. In the Mexican War he was appointed, despite his lack of experience, to the exalted rank of major general by President James Knox Polk, Pillow's Tennessee crony (but not his law partner, as is often carelessly assumed). He began on the wrong foot at Camargo by ordering the dirt excavated from a ditch to be piled on the wrong side, so as to protect any would-be attackers. Bungled attacks at Cerro Gordo and Contreras did little to redeem his reputation , nor did his penchant for intrigue, which led to the dismissal of his commanding general, Winfield Scott. In the Civil War, as a Confederate brigadier general, Pillow kept his string of ineptitude intact, culminating with the fiasco at Fort Donelson in February of 1862. Having managed to trap his command within an indefensible fort, he then pleaded the call of higher duty and skipped out, leaving his troops to surrender. Little wonder that Pillow earned low marks from his contemporaries. William T. Sherman, for one, characterized him as "a mass of vanity, conceit , ignorance, ambition, and want of truth." Winfield Scott thought Pillow "an anomaly": on the one hand "amiable and possessed of some acuteness," but, on the other hand, the only person he ever knew "who was wholly indifferent in the choice between truth and falsehood, honesty and dishonesty." Clearly, biographers who aim to rehabilitate Pillow's reputation have their work cut out for them. In Professor Roy P. Stonesifer's case, that work has been a long-awaited project, at least three decades in preparation, consummated at last (with the collaboration of Nathaniel Cheairs Hughes) by the publication of this handsome, smoothly written, exhaustively researched volume. Wisely, they seek not to restore Pillow's tarnished image, but merely to polish it around the edges. They freely concede his many flaws—"his bombast , his pretence, his whining, his grand mistakes"—but counter these with some often-overlooked assets: his charm, industry, business acumen, and ability to inspire (if not to lead) the men under his command. In their hands Pillow emerges less as a clown than as a tragic hero. "Fame chose Gideon Pillow as her darling and laid opportunities at his feet like golden apples, but he kicked them aside." Had they so desired, the authors could have used Pillow's career as a paradigm for an entire generation ofSouthern leaders whose self-deception, posturing , and lack of foresight led themselves and their section into a disaster they never fully understood. Allan Peskin Cleveland State University Evangelicals and Politics in Antebellum America. By Richard J. Carwardine. (New Haven and London: Yale University Press, 1993. Pp. xx, 487. $45.00.) Evangelicals and Politics is the first comprehensive study of the religious dimension of the road to disunion, and this important book will take its place 254CIVIL WAR HISTORY alongside the standard works of Benson, Howe, Gienapp, Silbey, Foner, and Matthews. Carwardine, senior lecturer in American history at the University of Sheffield, builds upon his earlier book, Transatlantic Revivalism, to weave the story of Protestant triumphalism in American politics from Jackson to Lincoln. The author interprets national politics through the lens of evangelical activists who pushed moral and ethical issues to the top ofthe agenda and played a "central part" in the ultimate breakdown of the second-party system . Just as the First Great Awakening disrupted established institutions and was a precursor of the American Revolution, so argues Carwardine, the Second Great Awakening "tore political consensus apart" and opened the door to the Civil War (ix). Carwardine wisely concentrates on the four major Protestant denominations —Methodist, Baptist, Presbyterian, and Congregational—which numbered 70 percent of all religious adherents and 84 percent of Protestants in 1850. But by using Robert Baird's 1850s data instead of the better estimates of Finke and Stark in The Churching of America (1992), the author undercounts evangelical growth rates by half. Despite denominational and sectional differences, Carwardine finds a unity among the progressive, postmillenial wing in their ethical concerns and idealistic vision of America as the New Israel, which thrust them "as evangelicals" into the politics of benevolence —temperance, Sabbatarian laws, Christian public education, and, above all, abolition. From an...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1533-6271
Print ISSN
0009-8078
Pages
pp. 253-255
Launched on MUSE
2012-01-04
Open Access
No
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