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Presenting many slaveholders as intelligent, honorable and pious men and women, this study asks how people who were admirable in so many ways could have presided over a social system that inflicted gross abuse on slaves. The South had formidable proslavery intellectuals who participated fully in transatlantic debates and boldly challenged an ascendant capitalist ("free-labor") society. Blending classical and Christian traditions, they forged a moral and political philosophy designed to sustain conservative principles in history, political economy, social theory, and theology, while translating them into political action.Read more
- Depicts the social leaders of the Old South as rejecting capitalist, bourgeois modernity
- Argues that the Christian faith was critical for both the Southerners' critique of modern decadence and their defense of slavery
- Documents the centrality of theology, biblical interpretation, and Christian moral reasoning in the mind of the master class
Reviews & endorsements
"In exploring their terrible and complex subject with honesty and sympathy, the authors have grappled heroically with the ambiguity at the heart of history and in the heart of man."
-The Atlantic MonthlySee more reviews
"Extraordinarily erudite. What is most impressive is the authors' ability to tell us precisely what was meant by the innumerable literary and cultural references found in the writings of the slaveholding intellectuals. They seem to have read all the books that their subjects read and talked about and are thus able to get inside their minds to a remarkable degree."
-New York Review of Books
"This book is one that libraries of colleges offering courses in American history ought to acquire."
-Catholic Library World
"Eugene Genovese and Elizabeth Fox-Genovese, focusing as they should on religion and political thought, have turned their immense learning and acuity to presenting the strongest case possible about the slaveholders intellectual and moral virtues, as well as their enormous failings and tragedies. Historians, including those who do not share the Genoveses's Old South sympathies, will find The Mind of the Master Class a commanding and illuminating book."
-Sean Wilentz, Princeton University
"The strength of the book lies in the Genoveses' depth of research and command of the primary sources. The Mind of the Master Class is an important contribution to southern intellectual history and undoubtedly will be read and debated for years to come."
-Adam L. Tate, Clayton State University, Journal of Social History
"...the Genoveses offer us one more insight into the Southern mind." -Hal Goldman, Historie sociale
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- Date Published: October 2005
- format: Hardback
- isbn: 9780521850650
- length: 824 pages
- dimensions: 243 x 162 x 48 mm
- weight: 1.308kg
- availability: Available
Table of Contents
Part I. Cradled in the Storms of Revolution:
1. 'That Terrible Tragedy'
2. The age of revolution through slaveholding eyes
3. 'The Purest Sons of Freedom'
Entr'Acte: the bonds of slavery
Part II. The Inescapable Past:
4. History as moral and political instruction
5. The slaveholders' quest for a history of the common people
6. World history and the politics of slavery
7. History as the story of freedom
Part III. Ancient Legacies, Medieval Sensibility, Modern Men:
8. In the shadow of antiquity
9. Coming to terms with the Middle Ages
10. The chivalry
11. Chivalric slave masters
12. Chivalric politics: Southern ladies take their stand
Part IV. A Christian People Defend the Faith:
13. A Christian people
14. Unity and diversity among the faithful
15. War over the Good Book
16. Slavery: proceeding from the Lord
17. The Holy Spirit in the word of God
18. Jerusalem and Athens - against Paris
19. Serpent in the garden: liberal theology in the South
20. Theopolitics: golden rule, higher law, and slavery
Coda: St. John of Pottawatamie
Part V. At the Rubicon:
21. Between individualism and corporatism: from the reformation to the war for Southern Independence
22. Past and future Caesars
Epilogue: King Solomon's dilemma.
Instructors have used or reviewed this title for the following courses
- American History/Religion in America through Civil War
- Graduate Readings in American History
- History of Slavery
- Rebellion and Recognition
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