HOME SCHOOL BOOK REVIEW
Book: Sounding Forth the Trumpet, 1837-1860: God’s Plan for America, Book 3
Authors: Peter Marshall and David Manuel
Publisher: Revell, republished in 2009
Related website: http://www.bakerbooks.com (publisher)
Language level: 1
(1=nothing objectionable; 2=common euphemisms and/or childish slang terms; 3=some cursing or profanity; 4=a lot of cursing or profanity; 5=obscenity and/or vulgarity)
Recommended reading level: Teens and adults
Rating: ***** 5 stars (EXCELLENT)
Reviewed by Wayne S. Walker
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Marshall, Peter, and Manuel, David. Sounding Forth the Trumpet, 1837-1860: God’s Plan for America, Book 3 (published in 1998 by Fleming H. Revell, a division of Baker Book House Company, P. O. Box 6287, Grand Rapids, MI 49516). This third volume in Marshall and Manuel’s providential American history series, “God’s Plan for America,” after The Light and the Glory, covering 1492 to 1787, and From Sea to Shining Sea, covering 1767 to 1837, brings to life one of the most crucial epochs in America’s history covering the events leading up to and precipitating the Civil War, including the Gold Rush, the Mexican War, the skirmishes of Bleeding Kansas, and the emergence of Abraham Lincoln, with emphasis on the tragic issue of slavery. The biggest complaint which I saw about the book, even by some “conservative, northerner, Christian, homeschoolers” was that “The authors devote virtually all of the discussion of the causes of the Civil War to the single issue of slavery.” I realize that there were other factors that were involved the American Civil War, such as the issues of state’s rights and economics, but I too am of the firm belief that if it had not been for the problem of slavery, the other difficulties could have been settled peacefully and politically, and there would have been no war.
Do I agree with all the conclusions that the author’s reach? No, I do not. For example, referring to Theodore Weld’s seventy young, on-fire seminarians which basically began the abolitionist movement, they write that “the fire of the Holy Spirit fell on the Seventy in a way that changed their lives forever.” Reasonable people may disagree as to what part the Holy Spirit might have played in anti-slavery circles, but I am very hesitant in attributing anything to Him apart from divine revelation. At the same time, I do think that any view of American history that does not at least include the possibility of “His story” unfolding in these events is missing something. I agree with William F. Buckley, a conservative hero of mine from earlier days, who said, “Messrs. Marshall and Manuel have put religion back in place in a wonderful depiction of the heady days before the great war.” And I agree with Cal Thomas, a conservative icon of present times, who wrote, “The authors again remind us of the things we’ve left behind and admonish us to go back and pick them up.”
Another criticism of the book is that they authors were biased, but I found them to be eminently fair. Consider their treatment of native Americans. “Did God want the Indians pushed off their hunting g rounds and herded into reservations? These were not easy questions to answer, and only an arrogant fool would claim to be sure of knowing God’s complete plan and intent….But among any people, even some among those who consider themselves Christians, there will be some who are cruel and insensitive.” I especially found the following comparison interesting. In promoting popular sovereignty concerning slavery, Senator Stephen “Douglas had said that freedom was the cornerstone of American democracy….In 1858, the pro-choice argument laid America open to charges of the worst sort of hypocrisy.” What does that tell us about today’s “pro-choice” movement regarding abortion? In fact, I must agree with the authors when, in their comparison of the 1858 Supreme Court decision that slave were not humans with rights to the 1973 Supreme Court decision that unborn babies are not humans with rights, they declare, “Today, if we turn back to God and seek His face and turn from our wicked ways, we will experience a similar revival. Hopefully it will reverse our downward slide into a new Dark Age. Even if it does not, it will prepare us for what we must go through.” Amen! It would be interesting to see what Marshall and Manuel might have written about the Civil War, the post-bellum period, and the twentieth century. But, alas, they have both passed on.