What Did All This Talk About Black Confederates Get Me?

How about a book deal with Westholme Publishing.  That’s right, today I was approached by a representative who wanted to know if I might be interested in writing a book about “black Confederates” and historical memory.  We’re talking 80,000 words (roughly 350 pages) on the role of black Southerners in the Confederate army and a history of how narratives about those roles evolved throughout the postwar period.  I should point out that I have not signed a contract and I made it clear that I will do nothing until my Crater manuscript is finished and mailed to the publisher.  At this point I am hoping to put together a proposal for Westholme some time in June/July.  It should come as no surprise, however, that I am excited about starting this project.  To be honest, I’ve been thinking about just such a project for some time, but wasn’t sure whether I could find a home for it.

I am envisioning a book that takes a close look at the recent resurgence of interest in these stories and how they function in our popular culture and on the eve of the sesquicentennial.  As many of you know I’ve already written quite a bit about this subject on the blog.  While most of the issues to be addressed can be found somewhere in the Archives a book project will give me a chance to tighten up the arguments and hopefully contribute something that will be appealing to both scholars and Civil War enthusiasts.  Best of all, given the paucity of reliable books on the subject I have no doubt that it will fly off the shelves.  It should be a fun project.

[Photo from the 52nd Regimental String Band Scrapbook]

25 comments… add one

  • Larry Cebula Apr 19, 2010

    This is great, Kevin!

    I hope that a good chunk of the book will be devoted to a project I have suggested before, doing some real historical research into the lives of some of the most frequently named “black Confederates” and separating fact from fiction.

    • Kevin Levin Apr 19, 2010

      You got it, Larry. I envision one entire chapter that will focus on that small handfull of names that continues to pop up Online. Let’s figure out first what is available and what can be inferred from the available evidence.

      • Margaret D. Blough Apr 22, 2010

        It would be interesting to tally up all the individual names claimed as “black Confederates” and see if it even makes up a standard Civil War infantry company.

        • Kevin Levin Apr 22, 2010

          Perhaps in an appendix to the book. We may need to recruite H.K. Edgerton as the unit’s captain. :D

  • Jeffry Burden Apr 19, 2010

    Kevin, that should be fun. A great chance to pull together all the various strings and really bring some light to the subject. How about the title: “Black Confederates in the Attic”? No? What about, “Lee’s Sable Thunderclap”? No need to thank me; I got a million of ‘em. :-)

    • Kevin Levin Apr 19, 2010

      Thanks Jeffry. I would like a title that will minimize the number of death threats that I am likely to receive after its publication. :D

  • Tom Thompson Apr 19, 2010

    Kevin,
    I don’t envy you…having to do 350 pages on something that didn’t happen. I’ll offer these chapter titles: “Black Confederates” is an Oxymoron, Six Claims Worth Investigating, If a Slave wore a Kepi Did That Make Him a Soldier? Wha’sup With the SCV?, Where Next for Historical Revisionism?

    If you make each chapter 60 pages long, you’re home free. Otherwise, you have a lot or positioning, and arguing to do. Good luck! I have no doubt you will pull this rabbit out of the hat.
    Tom

  • Robert Welch Apr 19, 2010

    Kevin-

    Congratulations on the book deal. While I don’t envy you the task (who am I kidding, I do envy you the task), after following this blog for quite a while now, I look forward to seeing a book-length treatise of academic quality dealing with the issue of Black Confederates. I would think that this could be of great use in graduate studies and add to the body of literature in the same vein as Blight and others working in the memory field. Best of luck in the endeavor.

  • Rusty Williams Apr 19, 2010

    Congratulations, Kevin!

    Great concept. Great publisher. Great author.

  • Woodrowfan Apr 20, 2010

    Very cool! Congratulations! So we can expect to see it in 2012?? 2013??

    • Kevin Levin Apr 20, 2010

      I think 2013 sounds about right.

  • Glenn Beck's Chalkboard Apr 20, 2010

    Excellent.

  • Scott Manning Apr 20, 2010

    Congratulations, Kevin. I think a book will help the topic tremendously. It is difficult for the casual user to browse through old blog posts and comments to track down the evolution of a debate. It is sort of like jumping in the middle of a season of 24.

  • Charlene Apr 20, 2010

    Congratulations! Definitely a compliment and a clear sign that you are headed in the right direction.

    Here in Washington State we have a highly successful travel and tour operator for selected European destinations, Rick Steves, whose business is growing by leaps and bounds, in spite of the fact that he makes a lot of appearances for free and gives away valuable promotional material at no cost. His secret to success? In Rick’s own words: “Find a need, and fill it.”

    You have definitely found a need and now are in the process of filling it. Good luck to you!

  • Nat Turners Son Apr 20, 2010

    This will be a great opportunity to finally get to the bottom of this issue. I sure hope you take on this task and I will be looking forward to reading it when it comes out.

  • Adam Arenson Apr 20, 2010

    Congrats! You have done a lot to shed light on the intersection of history and memory with the black-Confederate question, and so your book will be welcomed in university settings, for research and classroom use.

    I have just finished my first 320 pages, on St. Louis and the three regions of the Civil War (North, South, and West — see more on the book at http://www.hup.harvard.edu/catalog.php?isbn=9780674052888) and I am starting work on tracking African Americans moving south from Canada during the Civil War and Reconstruction.

    As we may be facing some of the same issues in Census and pension data mining, I’d be happy to discuss these projects further with you (and anyone else interested).

  • Marc Ferguson Apr 20, 2010

    You do remember how the gods punish us, don’t you, Kevin?

    ;^)

  • Randy Lucas Apr 21, 2010

    I will look forward to reading this book once written. I belong to a church founded by Peter Vertrees, a black Confederate, and am honored to know his family, who are living examples of the complexity of the war and that simplified and ideological works only serve to obscure rather than to illustrate.

  • Kirsten Schultz Apr 22, 2010

    Congratulations! I look forward to 2013. Perhaps it is the photo you chose, but you are reminding me of the postwar material relate to music and memory held at the MOC.

    I wish you luck and many productive days ahead,

    Kirsten

    • Kevin Levin Apr 22, 2010

      Thanks Kristen. It should be a fun project and I am very much looking forward to getting started.

  • W. W. S. Hsieh Apr 22, 2010

    Somewhat belayed comment–busy week teaching and the like. But congratulations nonetheless!–I think it’ll be a good way of taking all the work you put in here, thinking about it a bit more, and consolidate it in a book, which is still an indispensable way of organizing and synthesizing research.

    WH

    • Kevin Levin Apr 23, 2010

      Thanks Wayne. What I’ve done already on the blog will make for a very helpful outline. The next step, as you say, will be to synthesize and bring a bit more analytical rigor to the narrative. I do want it to be readable and even a bit entertaining – perhaps along the lines of “Confederates In the Attic.”

  • Lisa Graas Jun 29, 2010

    This is a book I’ll be interested in reading. Best wishes.

  • alan levin Jan 17, 2011

    Kevin, take the publishing contract…I willrepresent you….alan levin

    • Kevin Levin Jan 17, 2011

      Hi Alan. I decided to shop the manuscript around when the time comes. It should not be difficult finding a home given the controversy surrounding this topic.

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