The price of that failure was horrific, but the carnage accomplished what statesmen could not: It made the United States one nation and eliminated the divisive force of slavery. The victorious North moved ahead, a land of innovation and industry. Religion was supplanted by a gospel of economic and scientific progress, and the South was left behind. The "fiery trial" of war transformed our country—a conflagration captured in vivid detail in America Aflame.
David Goldfield is the Robert Lee Bailey Professor of History at the University of North Carolina, Charlotte. He is the author of many works and textbooks on Southern history, including Still Fighting the Civil War, Southern Histories, Black, White and Southern, and Promised Land.