Friends of Padre Steve’s World,
It has been over two months since I last wrote on the blog and I do apologize. During those months I was kicking off the first quarter of a new school year, working hard in the house until a combination of carpal tunnel and tendonitis sent me to a hand surgeon who put any heavy work on ice. I’ve been wearing wrist and hand braces which are really a pain, but between them and physical therapy the pain of the tendonitis has pretty much subsided. That being said the tingling and numbness of the carpal tunnel continues.
While this was going on I spent the better part of October and November doing my part of the copy editing of Mine Eyes Have Seen the Glory. Authors who have good publishers understand how important this is, and since this is my first book, this has been a learning process. I had an awesome copy editor with Potomac of University of Nebraska Press, and though the process was hard, the final result is an even better book. I learned a lot in the process that will make my future initial manuscript submissions much better. Stephen King said, ”to write is human, to edit divine.”
I have received a good number of really great book blurbs from prominent historians, writers, and civil rights leaders with most arriving in the two weeks before the publisher’s due date of 1 December. In the process of getting them I was greeted with so much kindness and encouragement even from men and women whose schedules, projects, or health prevented them from writing blurbs. I think than when normal travel resumes and COVID becomes less widespread that some of my new friends and I will get the chance to break bread and enjoy tasty beverages together as we discuss history, politics, and pick one another’s brains.
So here are the comments of these great historians and leaders who I am so grateful to in their affirmation of my work of the past seven years in their praise of the book. I cannot thank them enough. Once I get the expected publication date, I will let you know. I will be making so changes to the website to make it a launching pad for Mine Eyes Have Seen the Glory and future books, in addition to my articles and commentary. Thank you for continuing to follow my work despite months of inactivity on the site this year.
Dr. Charles Reagan Wilson, Professor Emeritus at the University of Mississippi and author of numerous books on Souther history and society including ”Baptized in Blood, the Religion of the Lost Cause” wrote:
“The ghosts of American slavery and the Civil War haunt this sweeping interpretation of how a toxic blend of white supremacy and tribal religion continue to shape American society. Beginning with the arrival of the first Africans in North America in 1619, Dundas traces how race and religion became an American ideology that influenced politics and public policy. The extensive citation of first-person quotations lends unusual authority to the account. The heart of the study is the period from the antebellum era through the end of Reconstruction, but within a chronological narrative, Dundas weaves philosophical meditations on the mix of idealism and ruthless power that shaped the antebellum and postbellum worlds, with special insight on the American South’s pivotal role in his story. While this is a historical study, the author analyzes its significance for the social and political divisions of the twenty-first century, making it an especially timely study. The author’s wide knowledge of military history serves him well, as he looks at the American experience of the Civil War in a broad perspective. Scholars of southern history, American religion, the Civil War, and contemporary politics will all find this work of interest.”
Dr. Leanna Keith of the New York Collegiate Academy and author of ”The Colfax Massacre” writes:
“In this concise, personal account, Steven L. Dundas offers a review of religion and ideology in the Civil War era and its aftermath. Taking a broad view, Dundas considers expressions of religious fervor and sermonizing in relations to the establishment of slavery in 1619, the role of the Constitution of the United States, and the painful legacies of the Civil War in Jim Crow and Lost Cause America. Dundas adopts a friendly and familiar tone, quoting at length, and synthesizing based on his careful reading of secondary sources. In its most original passages, the book considers the role of evangelical zeal in promoting conflict in the leadup to the war on both sides of the divide.”
Chris Rodda, Senior Researcher at the Military Religious Freedom Foundation and author of ”Liars for Jesus: The Religious Right’s Alternate Version of American History writes:
“With no sugar coating of America’s history of slavery and racism, Steve Dundas adds to the story of the religious ideology used to slavery, not as a side note but as the significant factor that it was. A very timely read as we face the growing threat of of today’s Christian nationalists and white supremacists.”
Dr. Riccardo Herrera, Professor of History at the the Army Command and General Staff College, and author of ”For Liberty and Republic, the American Citizen as Soldier: 1775-1861” writes:
“Steven Dundas has written a powerful call for Americans to reexamine their too-often mythologized Civil War, Reconstruction, and their ongoing impact on American life. Dundas has infused his work with a strong moral and ethical clarity that is rarely seen.”
Dr. John Fea, Distinguished Professor of History at Messiah University and author of ”Why Study History?”, ”Was America Founded as a Christian Nation?” and ”Believe Me: the Evangelical Road to Donald Trump” writes:
“Steven Dundas offers us a fast-moving introduction to the links between Christianity and slavery in early America. If you are interested in learning more about the roots of racial strife in America, Mine Eyes Have Seen the Glory is a good place to start.”
Dr.John Patrick Daly of the State University of New York, Brockport, and Author of “When Slavery was Called Freedom: Evangelism, Proslavery and the Causes of the Civil War” writes:
“Steve Dundas’s “Mine Eyes have seen the Glory” is a lively and wide-ranging account of religion and the politics of race in the South. His expert handling of religion and religious ideology is compelling and especially powerful on the origins and lasting power of the Lost Cause. The book’s innovative style will appeal to college students and all students of history.”
Dr. Margaret Sankey, Professor at the USAF, Air University and author of “Blood Money: How Criminals, Militias, Rebels, and Warlords Finance Violence” and “Women and War” writes:
“Moved by a staff ride to Gettysburg, Professor Dundas–a career naval officer, chaplain and educator–has written an electrifying new take on the American Civil War and its continuing presence in politics, race relations and corrosive mythology. From the first chapters, he center the long tail of slavery, back to the colonial origins of the states, with a grip that does not permit a reader to slide into ‘it was about states’ rights’ or to look away from the system of enslaving human beings that underwrote the commodity production of the southern economy and had the enabling support of northern brokers like Fernando Wood. His key insight, which should have a place in the anti-racism and anti-extremism training we do in Professional Military Education, is that the south definitely lost the war but infiltrated the peace with rhetoric of reunion, white brotherhood, U.S. imperialism (making up with brothers in grey by fighting in Cuba, for one!), Jim Crow constraint of African-American civil rights and vicious terrorizing in the form of nightriders, Klan activities and local lynching. Dundas’ history is visceral, often told in the voices of the participants, and pulls no punches with the searing injustices, large-scale violence and personal tragedies of the nation’s founding and original sin of slavery. This is a book to put in the hands of any military reader who understands that racism, an ugly thread woven into our American story, is a national security issue.”
Dr. Charles Dew, Ephraim Williams Professor of American History at Williams College, and author of “Apostles of Disunion: Southern Secession Commissioners and the Causes of the Civil War” writes:
“Mine Eyes Have Seen the Glory is a book for our time. Steven L. Dundas has skillfully woven slavery, race, racism, politics, and religion into a single entity in telling this country’s complex story. Every American would profit from what he is telling us.”
Dr. Lloyd “Vic” Hackley, military civil rights pioneer and Vietnam War hero before becoming President of the North Carolina Community College System, Vice President of the University of North Carolina System, and Chancellor of North Carolina A & T University writes:
“Steve Dundas has written the definitive account of America’s onerous history with African Americans. A must read to fully understand, teach or discuss the institution of slavery, racism, religion and their current impacts. Every school library should have a copy.”
Dr. Joe Levin, Esq., cofounder of the Southern Poverty Law Center writes,
“Commander Dundas not only brings us a powerful history of slavery but, more importantly, the consequence of untruths and how twisted religious beliefs shaped America. All educators should read it and ensure that its message is delivered to their students.”
Dr. James ”Jim” McPherson the George Henry Davis ’86 Professor Emeritus of United States History at Princeton University, and author of “Battle Cry of Freedom, the American Civil War” wich won the Pulitzer Prize in 1989 writes:
“A richly documented history of the ideology of racism that manifested itself in slavery, the Confederacy, the overthrow of Reconstruction, Jim Crow, and the myth of the Lost Cause that glorified the Old South and the Confederacy.”
Kristopher D. White Chief Historian, Emerging Civil War, and author of several books on the Civil War writes:
“Military history is more than just the mud and blood of the battlefield. The enduring values and beliefs of a nation equate to policy, policy and politics drives strategy, and strategy drives the prosecution of a war. In Mine Eyes Have Seen the Glory, Steven L. Dundas weaves together the story of the country’s original sin, slavery, into the larger fabric of antebellum and wartime America. Every aspect of American life was directly or indirectly touched by the “peculiar institution.” From the pulpit to the slave auction block, and from the cotton fields of the Deep South to the ramparts of Battery Wagner, Dundas takes readers on an unforgettable journey through the heart of perhaps the darkest chapter in American history—chattel slavery. Through exhaustive research and primary and secondary accounts, Dundas allows the evidence to speak for itself in this powerful examination from the Middle Passage to Emancipation, and beyond. This tome will be welcomed by military and social historians alike as it peels back the layers of some of the most overlooked and critical aspects of our collective history like never before.”
The book will be released in the heat of the the 2022 mid-term election. Those elections will be dominated by Right Wing hysteria regarding Critical Race Theory, and claims by conservative snowflakes that the mere mention of American racism will cause their children to be uncomfortable and traumatized. The people doing this have been terrorizing educators and school boards, with many educators receiving death threats and violent demonstrations at school board meetings. Since I have long experienced online harassment and death threats from White Supremacists and many who claim to be Christians, I expect that this book will considerably raise my profile and lead to much more targeted harassment and threats by these modern day book burning fascists.
But that is the path that I have chosen. Freedom and truth matter, and for those who believe as I that tyranny must be resisted, and that White Supremacists and theocratic Christians pose an existential threat to our democracy I cannot be silent.
What makes these people even more dangerous is that many believe that their actions to crush the rights and persecute other citizens are blessed and ordained by their god. They are banning and burning books, undermining civil rights, constitutional rights, and voting rights. the support open violence including murder of Blacks, Jews, Muslims, Women, LGBTQ people, other racial, ethnic, and religious minorities and political Liberals, who they call ”Communists and Socialists.” On January 6, 2021 they under the direction and with the wholehearted encouragement and support of former President Donald Trump, attacked the Capitol in order to allow Trump to remain in office after he lost a free and fair election.
Yale historian Timothy Snyder wrote:
“The European history of the twentieth century shows us that societies can break, democracies can fall, ethics can collapse, and ordinary men can find themselves standing over death pits with guns in their hands. It would serve us well today to understand why.”
I completely understand why that happens. Yehuda Bauer said, “Thou shall not be a perpetrator, thou shall not be a victim, and thou shall never, but never, be a bystander.” I cannot be a bystander, and thus as long as I have breath I will continue to write and fight.