Gettysburg Bound

On Friday I am heading down to Gettysburg to take part in the Civil War Institute’s annual conference at Gettysburg College. Unfortunately, my move to Boston prevented me from taking part in last year’s institute so I am very excited about being able to attend this time around. The theme this year is “The Civil War in 1862″ and it will explore, among other things, Civil War tactics in 1862, The war in the West, debating self-emancipation, and the 1862 campaigns of U.S. Grant. Here is the schedule for the panels and tours all of which look to be very interesting. I will be taking part in a panel with Brooks Simpson and Keith Harris on Civil War blogging on Sunday so that should be a lot of fun as well as a roundtable discussion on the final evening.  C-SPAN will be there, but whether they will film anything that I am involved with is still unclear.

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Sick From Freedom Makes for Strange Bedfellows

Jim Downs’s new book, Sick from Freedom: African-American Illness and Suffering during the Civil War and Reconstruction, is making somewhat of a splash in the mainstream media.  Articles have recently appeared in the New York Times, The Guardian Observer, and Daily Mail.  I am reading it now and I can’t recommend it highly enough.  It tells an important story that not only adds to our understanding of the challenges and consequences of emancipation, but forces us to step back to evaluate how we as a nation remember the Civil War itself.

You might be surprised by the folks who are jumping on the Jim Downs bandwagon.  First, we have the Sons of Confederate Veterans, who reprinted the Daily Mail article in its entirety on their blog.  They no doubt see this book as supporting the timeless Lost Cause chant that slavery as a system was benign and that slaves would have been much better off in the long term under the care of their masters.  And then we have Thomas DiLorenzo at the Lew Rockwell blog, who uses the book to support his view of the Lincoln administration’s ultimate goal of genocide and expansionism on the Plains and imperialism overseas.  Finally, we have Richard Williams, who has built his blog around warnings concerning academics like Jim Downs.  He, apparently, also likes what he sees.

You will not find any kind of analysis of Downs’s actual argument on any of these sites.  In fact, I can guarantee you that neither DiLorenzo, Williams or anyone at the SCV will read it.  Why?  Because they are not interested in historical interpretation.  History is little more than competing narratives that must be attacked or defended.  What they are looking for is support/vindication of broader political assumptions and/or sacred narrative truths.

It’s just hard not to crack a smile when that vindication comes from the community that is regularly condemned by these same individuals.    With that, do yourself a favor and read the book.

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The American Civil War Brought To You By Nascar

This is truly hilarious.

The American Civil War is unique in human history for being the only civil conflict that ended with reunion, respect and brotherhood.  The most bloody national conflict in world history is defined, ultimately, not by the conflict itself and that conflict’s destruction, but by the preservation of the values of all Americans.

The twin gifts of patriotic understanding and American freedom not only survived, but have thrived to make this nation a beacon of hope and peace the rest of the world admires to this day and will forever.  This production is honored to have developed a connection between this ultimate American sport with the ultimate American story and is proud to announce an association between select NASCAR™  affiliated drivers and roles that best exemplify this tradition of patriotism and competition in our production.

The connection between the Civil War and drivers who race NASCAR™ is simple: those values of the Civil War—the patriotism, the spirit of American competition, the regional and national pride that poured forth from and for its heroes—is best exemplified in the American Values and American Spirit embraced today by the NASCAR™ affiliated drivers and their fans.

One of the few times I am speechless.

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Commemorating Real Black Civil War Soldiers

Yesterday a memorial was dedicated to those black men from Lexington Park, Maryland who chose to join the United States army.  Here is a short video of the dedication that includes a speech from Congressman Steny H. Hoyer.  It is nice to see this taking place in a small community.

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Turning Likes and Followers Into Sales

A good friend of mine recently set up a Facebook page for her forthcoming book on the role of Christianity in shaping the concept of race in early Virginia.  She asked friends on Facebook as well as her Twitter followers to go ahead and “like” the page and within a couple of days had reached 100 fans.  Pretty good showing, but creating a Facebook page or Twitter account for a book is the easy part.  The challenge is in turning those social media connections or virtual clicks of support into sales.

Now I am certainly no Chris Brogan, but over the past few years I have learned a little bit about turning likes and follower into sales.  Of course, whether what I’ve learned actually pans out will be seen in the next few weeks.  Here are a couple of suggestions.

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