Thursday, June 23, 2011

Pg. 99: David S. Reynolds's "Mightier than the Sword"

The current feature at the Page 99 Test: Mightier Than the Sword: Uncle Tom's Cabin and the Battle for America by David S. Reynolds.

About the book, from the publisher:
A fascinating look at the cultural roots, political impact, and enduring legacy of Harriet Beecher Stowe's revolutionary bestseller.

Uncle Tom's Cabin is likely the most influential novel ever written by an American. In a fitting tribute to the two hundredth anniversary of Harriet Beecher Stowe's birth, Bancroft Prize-winning historian David S. Reynolds reveals her book's impact not only on the abolitionist movement and the American Civil War but also on worldwide events, including the end of serfdom in Russia, down to its influence in the twentieth century. He explores how both Stowe's background as the daughter in a famously intellectual family of preachers and her religious visions were fundamental to the novel. And he demonstrates why the book was beloved by millions-and won over even some southerners-while fueling lasting conflicts over the meaning of America. Although vilified over the years as often as praised, it has remained a cultural landmark, proliferating in the form of plays, songs, films, and merchandise-a rich legacy that has both fed and contested American racial stereotypes.
Learn more about Mightier than the Sword at the publisher's website.

Reynolds, a Distinguished Professor at the CUNY Graduate Center, is the author of Walt Whitman’s America, John Brown, Abolitionist, Beneath the American Renaissance, Faith in Fiction, and Waking Giant: America in the Age of Jackson. He is the winner of the Bancroft Prize, the Christian Gauss Award, the Ambassador Book Award, and finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Prize.

Among the early praise for Mightier than the Sword:
"[T]he author ably describes the influences and experiences that inspired Stowe to write [Uncle Tom's Cabin and] the story of its reception and impact is where Reynolds’s work really astounds."
--Jeff McMillan, California Literary Review

"[A] splendid and subtle history of the novel's effect on American culture.... Reynolds sets out to show the many and often contradictory ways in which one of the nation's most important works of literature has been understood and, alas, misunderstood. He has admirably succeeded."
--Fergus M. Bordewich, Wall Street Journal
Read Reynolds's New York Times op-ed, "Rescuing the Real Uncle Tom."

The Page 99 Test:  Waking Giant.

The Page 99 Test: Mightier Than the Sword.

--Marshal Zeringue