In the Name of God and Country: Reconsidering Terrorism in American History

In the Name of God and Country: Reconsidering Terrorism in American History

by Michael Fellman
     
 

With insight and originality, Michael Fellman argues that terrorism, in various forms, has been a constant and driving force in American history. In part, this is due to the nature of American republicanism and Protestant Christianity, which he believes contain a core of moral absolutism and self-righteousness that perpetrators of terrorism use to justify their

Overview

With insight and originality, Michael Fellman argues that terrorism, in various forms, has been a constant and driving force in American history. In part, this is due to the nature of American republicanism and Protestant Christianity, which he believes contain a core of moral absolutism and self-righteousness that perpetrators of terrorism use to justify their actions. Fellman also argues that there is an intrinsic relationship between terrorist acts by non-state groups and responses on the part of the state; unlike many observers, he believes that both the action and the reaction constitute terrorism.

Fellman’s compelling narrative focuses on five key episodes: John Brown’s raid on Harpers Ferry; terrorism during the American Civil War, especially race warfare and guerrilla warfare; the organized “White Line” paramilitary destruction of Reconstruction in Mississippi; the Haymarket Affair and its aftermath; and the Philippine-American war of 1899–1902. In an epilogue, he applies this history to illuminate the Bush-Cheney administration’s use of terrorism in the so-called war on terror. In the Name of God and Country demonstrates the centrality of terrorism in shaping America even to this day.

Editorial Reviews

New England Book Festival

Honorable Mention in the Non-Fiction category of the 2009 New England Book Festival sponsored by the Larimar St. Croix Writers Colony, The Hollywood Creative Directory; eDivvy, Shopanista and Westside Websites
Vancouver Sun

In the Name of God and Country is essential reading for anyone interested in the roots of terrorist violence.”—Vancouver Sun
Paul Boyer

"Blending impressive scholarly and narrative gifts with unapologetic moral engagement, Michael Fellman documents how deeply 'terrorism' is embedded in American history. Using five well-chosen case studies—from John Brown’s abolitionist violence in the 1850s through the torture and atrocities of America's early-twentieth-century imperialist war in the Philippines, Fellman shows how radicals, revolutionaries, reactionaries, and the State itself have employed terror to advance their purposes. As Americans debate the post-9/11 'war on terror,' In the Name of God and Country is strikingly relevant to the ethical issues of our own day."—Paul Boyer, author of By the Bomb’s Early Light: American Thought and Culture at the Dawn of the Atomic Age
David W. Blight

"Michael Fellman is willing to go where our popular memory is not. In the Name of God and Country is a bold stroke of narrative and analysis that shows us how much terrorism—the use of violence to political ends by the state as well as by individuals—is a central thread of the American past. Its many forms and actors cross the spectrum from 'revolutionary' to 'reactionary.' The book is persuasive, eye-opening, and an essential historical grounding for our mistaken assumption that terror is something foreign to our own habits, self-image, and history."—David W. Blight, author of Race and Reunion: The Civil War in American Memory
Leon F. Litwack

"This is our history, this is our heritage, a compelling, timely, riveting historical narrative and analysis. In the Name of God and Country is an ambitious, thoroughly documented examination of the place of terrorism and ethnic cleansing in American history, and how they came to be inextricably tied to our sense of mission and racial destiny. Fellman is tough-minded and uncompromising in defining and detailing terrorism and in insisting that Americans face up to what has been done in their name and realize that they are not exempt from history."—Leon F. Litwack, University of California, Berkeley
History News Network - Jeremy Kuzmarov

“. . . Fellman has written a very provocative and engaging book. . . ”—Jeremy Kuzmarov, History News Network
Publishers Weekly
Fellman (Inside War) examines the “central” role of terrorism “in the development of the American state” in this provocative academic treatise. Defining terrorism broadly as “overlapping forms of political violence”—i.e., an interchange between state and nonstate actors—Fellman offers five historical case studies that demonstrate “the underlying currents of terrorism intrinsic to the formation of American society.” The detailed case studies cover the expected episodes: the radical abolitionist John Brown's 1859 raid on the federal armory at Harper's Ferry, Va.; Union Gen. William T. Sherman's “scorched earth” march through Georgia; the white-supremacist—e.g., Ku Klux Klan, Mississippi White Line—campaign against Reconstruction; the 1886 Haymarket Square affair; and the Philippines War of 1899–1902. Fellman shows that throughout American history “the uses of political violence have been motivated by religious certitude coupled with psychological anxiety.” In a brief coda, the author argues that “these historical cases created the political template for modern-day American terrorism following September 11.” Although at times Fellman overstates the primacy of terrorism in shaping American institutions, this is a thoughtful and compelling re-evaluation of terrorism's long and often profound influence in our history. (Jan.)
History News Network

— Jeremy Kuzmarov

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780300115109
Publisher:
Yale University Press
Publication date:
01/05/2010
Pages:
288
Product dimensions:
6.00(w) x 9.20(h) x 1.10(d)

What People are saying about this

Paul Boyer
Blending impressive scholarly and narrative gifts with unapologetic moral engagement, Michael Fellman documents how deeply 'terrorism' is embedded in American history. . . .Fellman shows how radicals, revolutionaries, reactionaries, and the State itself have employed terror to advance their purposes.(Paul Boyer, author of By the Bomb’s Early Light: American Thought and Culture at the Dawn of the Atomic Age)

Meet the Author


Michael Fellman is professor of history emeritus at Simon Fraser University in Vancouver, British Columbia.

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