No one predicted success for Henry Ward Beecher at his birth in 1813. The blithe, boisterous son of the last great Puritan minister, he seemed destined to be overshadowed by his brilliant siblingsespecially his sister, Harriet Beecher Stowe, who penned the centurys bestselling book Uncle Toms Cabin. But when pushed into the ministry, the charismatic Beecher found international fame by shedding his father Lyman's Old Testamentstyle fire-and-brimstone theology and instead preaching a New Testamentbased gospel of unconditional love and healing, becoming one of the founding fathers of modern American Christianity. By the 1850s, his spectacular sermons at Plymouth Church in Brooklyn Heights had made him New Yorks number one tourist attraction, so wildly popular that the ferries from Manhattan to Brooklyn were dubbed Beecher Boats.
Beecher inserted himself into nearly every important drama of the eraamong them the antislavery and womens suffrage movements, the rise of the entertainment industry and tabloid press, and controversies ranging from Darwinian evolution to presidential politics. He was notorious for his irreverent humor and melodramatic gestures, such as auctioning slaves to freedom in his pulpit and shipping riflesnicknamed Beechers Biblesto the antislavery resistance fighters in Kansas. Thinkers such as Emerson, Thoreau, Whitman, and Twain befriendedand sometimes parodiedhim.
And then it all fell apart. In 1872 Beecher was accused by feminist firebrand Victoria Woodhull of adultery with one of his most pious parishioners. Suddenly theGospel of Love seemed to rationalize a life of lust. The cuckolded husband brought charges of criminal conversation in a salacious trial that became the most widely covered event of the century, garnering more newspaper headlines than the entire Civil War. Beecher survived, but his reputation and his causesfrom womens rights to progressive evangelicalismsuffered devastating setbacks that echo to this day.
Click to the right or left of the sample to turn the page.
(If no book jacket appears in a few seconds, then we don't have an excerpt of this book or your browser is unable to display it)
"Applegate gives an insightful account of a contradictory, fascinating, rather Clintonesque figure who, in many ways, was America's first liberal." - PW
"An exceptionally thorough and thoughtful account of a spectacular career that helped shape and reflect national preoccupations before, during and after the Civil War." - Kirkus
"For readers seeking the roots of the popular religion and popular culture of our own time, Applegate's resurrection of Henry Ward Beecher is an excellent place to begin." - Washington Post
"Applegate has produced a biography worthy of its subject. " - New York Times
The information about The Most Famous Man in America shown above was first featured in "The BookBrowse Review" - BookBrowse's online-magazine that keeps our members abreast of notable and high-profile books publishing in the coming weeks. In most cases, the reviews are necessarily limited to those that were available to us ahead of publication. If you are the publisher or author of this book and feel that the reviews shown do not properly reflect the range of media opinion now available, please send us a message with the mainstream media reviews that you would like to see added.
Discover your next great read here
There is no such thing as a moral or immoral book. Books are either well written or badly written. That is all.
Click Here to find out who said this, as well as discovering other famous literary quotes!
Solve this clue:
and be entered to win..
Visitors can view some of BookBrowse for free. Full access is for members only.
Your guide toexceptional books
BookBrowse seeks out and recommends books that we believe to be best in class. Books that will whisk you to faraway places and times, that will expand your mind and challenge you -- the kinds of books you just can't wait to tell your friends about.