A richly detailed, profoundly engrossing story of how religion has influenced American foreign relations, told through the stories of the men and women—from presidents to preachers—who have plotted the country’s course in the world.
Ever since John Winthrop argued that the Puritans’ new home would be “a city upon a hill,” Americans’ role in the world has been shaped by their belief that God has something special in mind for them. But this is a story that historians have mostly ignored. Now, in the first authoritative work on the subject, Andrew Preston explores the major strains of religious fervor—liberal and conservative, pacifist and militant, internationalist and isolationist—that framed American thinking on international issues. From George Washington to George W. Bush, from the Puritans to the present, from the colonial wars to the Cold War, religion has been one of America’s most powerful sources of ideas about the wider world. Sword of the Spirit, Shield of Faith is a bold synthesis of American history and also a remarkable work of balance and fair-mindedness about one of the most fraught subjects in America.