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174CIVIL WAR HISTORY slavery. Was not this belated move a calculated effort to bring down the South by fomenting slave insurrections? Would not this despicable policy widen the struggle into a race war and ultimately drag in other countries? Berwanger's well-researched and carefully argued work underlines the importance of foreign relations to the Civil War. For too long historians have dwelt almost exclusively on battles and military leaders. The fact is that the Union's welfare rested as much on the policies of Britain and other Old World governments as it did on the challenges posed by the Confederate army. More studies of this sort are needed to provide the well-rounded picture required to understand the foreign as well as domestic repercussions of this tragic event in America's history. Howard Jones University of Alabama Under Their Own Vine and Fig Tree: The African-American Church in the South, 1865-içoo. By William E. Montgomery. (Baton Rouge and London: Louisiana State University Press, 1993. Pp. xvi, 358. $29.95.) Since the mid-1960s, two ofthe most active research topics in Southern history have been the black experience and religion. The two topics come together in this long, detailed narrative that is clearly built upon the great body of scholarship of the past three decades. This book will be of primary interest to nonspecialists who want a detailed narrative ofblack religious institutions after the Civil War; it will be less useful to specialists because it offers a comparatively small interpretative gain over the works that form its foundation. But the topical and chronological sweep ofits narrative will guarantee it many gratified readers who will have turned to this volume as their introduction to the field. This is an old-fashioned religious history in that its focus is primarily institutional , and the emphasis is on ministers and denominational leaders. The role oflaypersons, and of women, is more hinted at than explored, and the religious ideas and themes of the churches as revealed through sermons, denominational literature and newspapers, and hymnody are left underexamined. Still, for one who wants to know how religious blacks throughout the South responded institutionally to emancipation, this book is a ready reference. The author begins with a brief introduction to black religion in slavery times, an introduction that I think significantly slights the role ofthe biracial religious experience, and then traces the various ways blacks withdrew from the dominant white churches either to form black versions of their old churches or join new churches that came from the North to reap a religious harvest. This was not a process without denominational rivalries, or differences of opinion about the extent to which connections with the white brethren should be maintained, and all this is discussed in judicious completeness. The subsequent growth, consolidation, and maturity ofthe resulting black denominations is covered, along with solid discussions of the roles—including political—of the churches in the tumultuous book reviews175 era of Reconstruction, with additional chapters on the controversial issue of black nationalism, the varied worship styles of the black churches, and the evolving roles of the black preacher. A brief epilogue brings the story into the twentieth century, when younger, better educated, more urban, and more secure blacks increasingly questioned the cultural authority ofthe churches and especially the autocracy of the older ministers who owed their positions more to piety than learning. Much of the book, as the footnotes reveal, is a summary/synthesis of recent scholarship, with quotations from primary sources used to illustrate rather than develop interpretative points. The author has sacrificed originality of interpretation and attention to nuance for breadth ofcoverage; while he adds details to what is generally known, I think he seldom advances new arguments or says anything particularly fresh about the many topics discussed. I say this less as a criticism than as a description of the book. This is not a thesis book, but that might make it more valuable to many readers. Those readers would have been better served, however, had the book included a bibliography or an essay on sources, and a more complete index. Even so, and in spite ofthe absence of analytical zip, there is no...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1533-6271
Print ISSN
0009-8078
Pages
pp. 174-175
Launched on MUSE
2012-01-04
Open Access
No
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