Chicken Soup for the Civil War Soul

SofterHave you ever noticed that the further you move away from mainstream/scholarly publishers the more emotional the titles become.  Consider Thomas Forehand’s Robert E. Lee’s Softer Side:

A collection of anecdotes and quotes displaying Lee’s tender side. Though at times he was known to have a "fierce and violent temper," Lee nonetheless had a heart that editor Thomas Forehand contests was "as soft as velvet."

Through letters, diary excerpts, and touching stories, Forehand demonstrates that in his personal life Lee was indeed a peacemaker, full of a surprisingly sensitive and gentle nature that his family and others recorded. One cadet’s mother wrote in her diary that Lee was "very human, kind, and calm," and Lee’s letters home to his wife and children illuminate the man behind the legend.

The book is published by Pelican Press which seems to have a knack for the colorful titles.  If you look closely it almost seems as if someone altered the image of Lee to give him an even "softer"Cisco  look.  On the flip side we have Walter Brian Cisco’s War Crimes Against Southern Civilians with its bold letters and bright red and black cover.  Here is a brief excerpt from the jacket:

Women and children, black and white, were robbed, brutalized, and left homeless in Sherman’s infamous raid through Georgia. Torture and rape were not uncommon. In South Carolina, homes, farms, churches, and whole towns disappeared in flames. Civilians received no mercy at the hands of the Union invaders. Earrings were ripped from bleeding ears, graves were robbed, and towns were pillaged. Wherever Federal troops encountered Southern Blacks, whether free or slave, they were robbed, brutalized, belittled, kidnapped, threatened, tortured, and sometimes raped or killed by their blue-clad "liberators."

Lincoln_2Perhaps you won’t be surprised to find that Amazon offers a package deal that includes Cicsco’s book along with Thomas J. DiLorenzo’s Lincoln Unmasked: What Your Not Supposed to Know About Honest Abe (Crown Publishers). 

Don’t get me wrong as I have no problem with using the title to attract the attention of the customer, but there is something disingenuous when the language used is overly inflammatory.  Neither the author nor the publisher is being honest with the customer.  The readers who purchase such a book is not really interested in scholarship, rather they are interested in having certain assumptions reinforced.  The goal is to maintain or achieve a certain emotion rather than understanding.  I’ve said it before that the Civil War has a very strong anti-intellectual streak in it.  Publishers such as Cumberland, Pelican, Crown, and others would not be possible but for that fact. 

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