A War for the Soul of America: A History of the Culture Wars

Front Cover
University of Chicago Press, Apr 14, 2015 - History - 342 pages
When Patrick Buchanan took the stage at the Republican National Convention in 1992 and proclaimed, “There is a religious war going on for the soul of our country,” his audience knew what he was talking about: the culture wars, which had raged throughout the previous decade and would continue until the century’s end, pitting conservative and religious Americans against their liberal, secular fellow citizens. It was an era marked by polarization and posturing fueled by deep-rooted anger and insecurity.

Buchanan’s fiery speech marked a high point in the culture wars, but as Andrew Hartman shows in this richly analytical history, their roots lay farther back, in the tumult of the 1960s—and their significance is much greater than generally assumed. Far more than a mere sideshow or shouting match, the culture wars, Hartman argues, were the very public face of America’s struggle over the unprecedented social changes of the period, as the cluster of social norms that had long governed American life began to give way to a new openness to different ideas, identities, and articulations of what it meant to be an American. The hot-button issues like abortion, affirmative action, art, censorship, feminism, and homosexuality that dominated politics in the period were symptoms of the larger struggle, as conservative Americans slowly began to acknowledge—if initially through rejection—many fundamental transformations of American life.

As an ever-more partisan but also an ever-more diverse and accepting America continues to find its way in a changing world, A War for the Soul of America reminds us of how we got here, and what all the shouting has really been about.
 

What people are saying - Write a review

We haven't found any reviews in the usual places.

Contents

Introduction
1
The Sixties as Liberation
9
The Neoconservative Kulturkämpfe
38
Taking Gods Country Back
70
The Color Line
102
The Trouble with Gender
134
The Sacred and the Profane
171
God State and Curriculum
200
The Battle for the American Mind
222
The Contested American Past
253
Conclusion
285
Acknowledgments
291
Notes
297
Index
335
Copyright

Other editions - View all

Common terms and phrases

About the author (2015)

Andrew Hartman is associate professor of history at Illinois State University and the author of Education and the Cold War: The Battle for the American School.

Bibliographic information