Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “A War for the Soul of America: A History of the Culture Wars” as Want to Read:
A War for the Soul of America: A History of the Culture Wars
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

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

4.03  ·  Rating details ·  205 ratings  ·  25 reviews
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 thei ...more
Hardcover, 384 pages
Published April 14th 2015 by University of Chicago Press
More Details... Edit Details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about A War for the Soul of America, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about A War for the Soul of America

This book is not yet featured on Listopia. Add this book to your favorite list »

Community Reviews

Showing 1-30
Average rating 4.03  · 
Rating details
 ·  205 ratings  ·  25 reviews

More filters
Sort order
Start your review of A War for the Soul of America: A History of the Culture Wars
Oct 24, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Read this. Read this. Read this. It's been getting lots of attention academically, and no wonder. So many books on the cultural wars focus on the 80's and 90's, but this book actually traces its roots back to the 60s. Particularly of interest is the alliance between neoconservatives and religious conservatives against the left. Many of the neocons were Jewish (children of Jewish immigrants) and that in itself is significant, for the American Dream and the maintenance thereof (compare this to Are ...more
Pamela Burdick
Feb 12, 2015 rated it it was amazing
This beautifully written and well researched book offers something for everyone.

The chapter "The Trouble with Gender" is fascinating and I believe the first half of the chapter would make excellent required reading in high school explaining how men and women have arrived in their current state regarding gender conversations.

Personally, I recently found myself in you another conversation where the woman I spoke with prefaced her statement with "I am not a feminist but...." This statement floors
Oliver Bateman
Jun 09, 2015 rated it it was amazing
A fine overview of the culture wars and a good companion to Kazin's The Populist Persuasion. Hartman, who founded the excellent USIH blog, credits its many contributors throughout the work and provides a good example of how digital collaboration can shape the development of a manuscript.

That said, this remains a cool title, some good info, and a starting point. I'm not an expert on everything described in the book, but I'd say I've read and watched as much of Pat Buchanan's work as anyone curren
Aug 19, 2018 rated it really liked it
Brilliant, really! A lot to take in; and, as a consequence, a lot learned.
Joseph Stieb
Nov 09, 2020 rated it really liked it
A very useful intellectual and cultural history that gives historians a great framework for conceptualizing the CW. Hartman's core argument is that the culture wars are the playing out/extension of the 1960s, a decade when a series of tectonic shifts occurred (civil rights, feminism, gay rights, antiwar, other identity movements) that fundamentally challenged the power structure of the country. You also saw the emergence of a much more nationally unified and self-conscious conservative movement ...more
R.J. Gilmour
Jun 22, 2015 rated it it was amazing
A really good analysis of how the culture wars of the 1980s and 1990s developed over time. An important book for anyone interested in the period and how the neo-conservative movement developed. Would make a great teaching tool for anyone wanting to unravel how politics divided after the 1960s.

"But the sixties universalized fracture. Many Americans prior to the sixties, particularly middle-class white Americans, were largely sheltered from the "acids of modernity," those modern ways of thinking
Jun 14, 2018 rated it it was amazing
A history of the Culture Wars, and their lingering effects.

The book closes a bit prematurely, with the "conclusion" hinting at where we are now - a Capitalism that has triumphed over both conservative and liberal worlds, perhaps, in my own words, putting a price on everything, thus reducing everything, every idea, to a commodity. I hope Mr. Hartman is at work on another book.

But if you're not clear about the Culture Wars and their devastating impact on our nation, this is a very good read. It h
Oct 06, 2017 rated it really liked it
Comprehensive and meaningful analysis of the topic of culture wars in the United States. Andrew Hartman traces the origins of the divide of the American populace to the upheaval and strife of the 1960's, when so many previously subjugated groups fought for identity and justice. Their demands and the increasingly radicalized tone that accompanied them caused other Americans to yearn for what had once been their normality in the homogenized fifties. Hartman includes the voices of some of the most ...more
B. Tyler Burton
Jan 13, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Great play by play of events that for me rang bells of foggy memory, but there is nothing like reading the words of those involved at the scene. Like when Reagan on the campaign trail for governor said he’d love to get to know those Berkeley protestors “...with a club”

The last fifty years of Bay Area politics plays heavily into the narrative which is also a plus.

Heavily recommended for those who are students of history.
Bill FromPA
Mar 17, 2019 rated it liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
The book starts with a chapter describing the protest and liberation movements of the 1960s; the next chapter describes conservative reaction against some or all of the aims and actions of these movements, with an emphasis on "neoconservatives", former liberals who found the "new left" too radical (or too inclusive) for their comfort. Subsequent chapters take on, subject by subject, the areas of new consciousness raised by the 60s movements and the conservative counter-measures that were taken a ...more
Jan 06, 2019 rated it liked it
This was a recommended read by one of my professors since I am interested in education in the United States. However, this book touches on several different topics besides education such as gender, neoconservatism and how history is portrayed in America. I felt the book focused on how America seems to have always been split in two. Individuals who want to keep the status quo and keep alive the way Americans lived from the 1920's to the 1950's. Then there are those individuals who want to see cha ...more
Feb 12, 2018 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I read this book because it was a required reading assignment. I normally like to read about history. Being a Libertarian, I really did not like reading this book. From my point of view, this book outlines pretty much everything that the government and politics should not be involved in. That being said, you could make the argument that the culture wars in America did lead to everyone being a little more equal than they were when the Declaration of Independence was written.
Thomas Christianson
Apr 12, 2018 rated it really liked it
A fascinating and fairly academic look at the history of the culture war which seems to rage hotter in our society every year.
Nov 08, 2019 rated it liked it
Shelves: usa, non-fiction
Spændende læsning, dog vel tungt skrevet.
Feb 02, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Absolutely backs you up with a good background on how often people's opinions are shaped by outside sources, and how the government plays a role to support one of many of those opinions. ...more
Brian Morris
Mar 13, 2017 rated it liked it
This is a pretty good recounting of the Culture Wars that have been raging ever since the Civil Rights movement. But I thought it focused a little too much on the battles fought between intellectuals in their ivory towers. I would have liked to have learned more about how it was experienced on the front lines. I was also surprised that the book didn't say much about 21st Century developments. ...more
Mar 06, 2017 rated it it was amazing
After reading this, I have a new understanding of the battles fought between professors on my senior thesis committee, not to mention different family arguments I recall from childhood. Hartman takes care to present a fairly well-balanced perspective from both sides of the "war," which I especially appreciate. ...more
Alex Stroshine
Mar 25, 2015 rated it it was amazing
"A War For the Soul of America: A History of the Culture Wars" by Andrew Hartman offers a sweeping account of a changing America. Hartman effectively demonstrates how the 1960s laid the groundwork for America's divisive culture wars, tackling topics such as feminism, education, religion and race.

Hartman's book is well-researched and ranging. He highlights interesting twists in the theatres of the culture wars, such as how Andrea Dworkin and other feminist opponents of pornography found themselv
The American Conservative
Just a decade ago, intellectual history was considered an outmoded sub-field of history. The long decline of intellectual history was the result of a deliberate effort by a generation of social historians to push it from the halls of academia—to banish the unfashionable emphasis on the ideas of preeminent Western thinkers. Classifications such as race, class, and gender replaced the study of history as ideas.

By the 1980s, “social history” had morphed into “cultural history,” which borrowed its a
Bookforum Magazine
"By grounding his account in a broader historical context, Hartman reminds us that the signature battles of contemporary culture warfare represent much more than a short-lived conflict between the Christian Right and the rest of society.

He is an extremely entertaining writer, and his nimble turns from pop music to porn to abortion to politics and back make for engaging, smooth reading."

–Elizabeth Bruenig on Andrew Hartman's A War for the Soul of America: A History of the Culture Wars in the Apr
Aug 22, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This was a very enlightening book to read. I did not care for the format - it felt like a number of scholarly articles strung together and reworked as a book. But it did help me better understand that the years I spent at university were deep in the culture wars. As a matter of fact, no one ever explained the culture wars to me while it was going on around me. I’ve felt for years my education was substandard and not worth what I’m still paying for it. It makes so much more sense now that I see m ...more
A sharp and insightful analysis of the culture wars and their enduring effects on the contemporary landscape. 'Normative America' has been confronted with numerous opposing voices (feminism, multiculturalism, identity politics, the 'new class' of the professoriat, etc.) and collision is explosive. Special note must be made of the clarity of Hartman's exposition. ...more
Jul 01, 2016 rated it it was amazing
One of the best books I've read this year. For intellectual history, it moves fast, but doesn't sacrifice erudition. Must read for anyone who enjoyed the recent documentary Best of Enemies, or generally enjoys a good debate. ...more
Edward Sullivan
An excellent overview of the culture wars of the last half of the 20th century that impacted art, music, public education, and popular culture.
Ross Furbush
Very educational. Kinda dense and pretty academic, but lots of helpful history factoids to understand the cultural divides that we see in America today.
Kendra Drischler
rated it really liked it
Oct 16, 2018
Michael Williams
rated it it was amazing
Feb 05, 2018
David Dines
rated it it was amazing
Jan 24, 2021
Sarah Ford
rated it really liked it
Apr 29, 2020
Brandon Westlake
rated it really liked it
Nov 23, 2016
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »

Readers also enjoyed

  • To 'joy My Freedom: Southern Black Women's Lives and Labors After the Civil War
  • Suburban Warriors: The Origins of the New American Right
  • Nature's Metropolis: Chicago and the Great West
  • Orderly and Humane: The Expulsion of the Germans after the Second World War
  • Confederates in the Attic: Dispatches from the Unfinished Civil War
  • Changes in the Land: Indians, Colonists, and the Ecology of New England
  • Drunk on Genocide: Alcohol & Mass Murder in Nazi Germany
  • Agent Running in the Field
  • استعمار مصر
  • The Book of Daniel
  • Postwar: A History of Europe Since 1945
  • Gender Trouble: Feminism and the Subversion of Identity
  • All in the Family: The Realignment of American Democracy Since the 1960s
  • Bloodlands: Europe Between Hitler and Stalin
  • Parting the Waters: Martin Luther King and the Civil Rights Movement 1954-63
  • At Canaan's Edge: America in the King Years 1965-68
  • Pillar of Fire: America in the King Years 1963-65
  • Malcolm X: A Life of Reinvention
See similar books…

News & Interviews

Why not focus on some serious family drama? Not yours, of course, but a fictional family whose story you can follow through the generations of...
162 likes · 60 comments