The good folks at Great Divide Pictures were kind enough to send me a complimentary copy of their forthcoming series, Civil War: The Untold Story, which tells the story of the war in the West. I’ve watched the first two episodes on Shiloh and skimmed the rest. Overall, it’s a solid production. The digital maps are well done and the reenacted battle scenes are entertaining. The narrative effectively weaves together a big picture of the cause of the war and its various stages with focused coverage of both the strategic and tactical decisions in the field. Stories about individual soldiers, civilians, and slaves drive home the human experience. So, overall the series is well worth watching.
All of the historians utilized as talking heads are well known to seasoned readers of Civil War history and they do a fabulous job, but what I find interesting is the lack of balance between men and women. Of the twelve historical advisers that I came across only two are women.
Deirdre Cooper Owens
Amy Murrell Taylor
Let me be clear that I am not impugning anyone for what I perceive as a lack of gender balance. I have no idea what went into the decisions to tap the talents of this particular list of historians beyond the obvious point that they are all well-respected scholars. I do, however, think it is worth considering the picture of the historical profession that is implied or reinforced.
Even more interesting to me is that both Taylor and Owens are utilized only for subjects that connect the battlefields to the broader home front and slavery. Both do an excellent job and their contributions add to the richness of the final product. However, with this sharp division of labor, it is hard not to draw the conclusion that when it comes down to it the subject of Civil War battles and leaders is still the domain of men.
Are there really no female historians that can talk about military strategy and the battlefield itself?