In the Name of God and Country


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Reconsidering Terrorism in American History

Michael Fellman

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A provocative examination of the historical origins and impact of terrorism in America.

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.

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

"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

"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

"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

"Fellman's indictment of the United States and his suggestion that 19th century responses to terrorism provided 'templates' for the future are sad and sobering."—Glenn C. Altschuler, Tulsa World


“. . . Fellman has written a very provocative and engaging book. . . ”—Jeremy Kuzmarov, History News Network

"In this important new book, Civil War historian Michael Fellman begins with John Brown, continues with examples during the Civil War and Reconstruction, and eventually reaches the U.S. war to suppress Philippine independence from 1899-1902. The latter war, which most Americans have long forgotten, so enraged Mark Twain that he publicly declared himself an anti-imperialist opposed to America's conduct. Fellman's very readable history is likely to ignite your awareness as well."—David Crumm, Read the Spirit

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

"Provocative book. . . . This work will certainly elicit lively discussion in any senior seminar or graduate level history course."—J. B. Cook, CHOICE

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
ISBN: 9780300168020
Publication Date: November 30, 2010
288 pages, 5 7/8 x 9
9 b/w illus.