The Wrath to Come: Gone with the Wind and the Lies America Tells (Hardcover)
The history America never wanted you to read.
'The narrative took my breath away' Philippe Sands
'An extraordinarily and shockingly powerful read' Peter Frankopan
'One of the must-reads of the year' Suzannah Lipscomb
'Brilliant and provocative' Gavin Esler
Sarah Churchwell examines one of the most enduringly popular stories of all time, Gone with the Wind, to help explain the divisions ripping the United States apart today. Separating fact from fiction, she shows how histories of mythmaking have informed America's racial and gender politics, the controversies over Confederate statues, the resurgence of white nationalism, the Black Lives Matter movement, the enduring power of the American Dream, and the violence of Trumpism.
Gone with the Wind was an instant bestseller when it was published in 1936; its film version became the most successful Hollywood film of all time. Today the story's racism is again a subject of controversy, but it was just as controversial in the 1930s, foreshadowing today's debates over race and American fascism. In The Wrath to Come, Sarah Churchwell charts an extraordinary journey through 160 years of American denialism. From the Lost Cause to the romances behind the Ku Klux Klan, from the invention of the 'ideal' slave plantation to the erasure of interwar fascism, Churchwell shows what happens when we do violence to history, as collective denial turns fictions into lies, and lies into a vicious reality.
“Eye-opening and at times jaw-dropping; a powerful reminder of the prejudices and suffering horrors of the recent past, and a call to arms to learn from the lessons of history. Highly recommended” —Peter Frankopan
“An extraordinarily and shockingly powerful read... With meticulous research and fine structure, it offers a most disturbing arc that transports us from now back to what we thought was another era but which is, in reality, so deeply enmeshed with the intolerances and prejudices of today. At times the narrative took my breath away. I was riveted from start to finish” —Philippe Sands
“Sarah Churchwell's brilliant and provocative guide to understanding the twenty-first century dis-United States of America explores America's myths about itself, through that great Hollywood myth about the South and racism, Gone With the Wind. If you want to know why Donald Trump connects with so many Americans today, as a link to the 'Lost Cause' of the Confederacy, Churchwell's account offers the answers” —Gavin Esler
“A brilliant and important book that exposes the truths hidden by one of the world's most famous stories and, in so doing, reveals how the (im)moral weight of this tale has not only shaped American culture over the last century but is shaping American politics and society today. One of the must-reads of the year” —Suzannah Lipscomb
“The Wrath to Come is packed with fascinating, well-researched and often jaw-dropping history” —Daily Telegraph
“Churchwell's excoriating analysis is energising” —Literary Review
“Stylish and thoughtful, Churchwell's book is an exemplary exploration of how Gone with the Wind reflects, and continues to affect, American culture” —Spectator
“A painful reflection on how the ghosts of the civil war still haunt US culture” —The Times
“The case Churchwell builds against Gone with the Wind is a compelling one” —Sunday Times
“Rich in detail and rigorously argued, this is cultural history at its very best” —Tortoise Media
“A stylish blend of literary criticism, cultural history and political polemic” —Sunday Business Post
“She has a deep scholarly understanding of America's literature and history, and her writing is smart and crisp, creating a narrative that is as gripping as it is enlightening” —Mail Plus
“An exceptional book, smart and searing and scary” —Baptist News