A Reconstruction Reading List

Parsons KlanAsk for a book recommendation on Reconstruction and you are likely to get Eric Foner’s masterful synthesis, Reconstruction: America’s Unfinished Revolution, 1863-1877.

It’s still a great place to start, but there has been a good deal published about the period over the past few years and much of it takes us beyond the traditional time-line and spatial framework outlined in Foner.

What follows is a list of books that have pushed me in various ways to think anew about the standard list of events during the postwar period and a host of new ones. Of course, this is not intended as an exhaustive list.

Feel free to add suggestions in the comments section below. [click to continue…]

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Atlanta History Center Lends an Interpretive Hand

Update: Christopher Graham has also shared his thoughts on this subject, which I highly recommend.

I am sure there are other examples, but the Atlanta History Center is the first organization that I am aware of that is addressing the ongoing discussion about Confederate iconography. It is doing so by providing communities with the tools to better understand the history of their Civil War monuments.

The AHC is offering what it calls a “Confederate Monument Interpretation Template” that includes questions as well as text to understand the broad historical context in which many of these monuments were dedicated. It also includes a “Guide For Placing Monuments in Context” as well as a link to books, articles and a couple of blogs, including Civil War Memory for additional reading.  [click to continue…]

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Crater Book Now Available From Audible

Crater AudibleI am pleased to announce that Remembering the Battle of the Crater: War as Murder is now available from audible. Jack de Golia did a solid job reading the book, which runs just under six hours in length. The audio version is half the price of the hardcover and even cheaper than the kindle version.

The news of the release caught me a bit by surprise, but apparently the book is still selling sufficient copies to warrant it. I also recently learned that there is a chance the University Press of Kentucky may release a paperback version in the not too distant future.

If any of you do purchase the audio version let me know how it goes.

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How You Can Become a Civil War Historian

In this short video the Civil War Trust’s Garry Adelman shares his thoughts about ‘becoming a Civil War historian.’ Garry hinted to me last year that he was thinking about working on just such a video. [click to continue…]

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Does James Longstreet Deserve a Monument?

longstreetThis past Wednesday Charles Lane authored an opinion piece for The Washington Post that called for a monument to be erected in New Orleans to Confederate General James Longstreet. The essay has now been re-printed in newspapers across the country.

Lane believes that Longstreet’s postwar alignment with the Republican Party and other exploits points to an important historical lesson in redemption that has all but been forgotten.

According to the author, the removal of monuments to Lee, Davis and Beauregard and the raising of one to Longstreet will serve to “correct the balance of honor in public spaces.” [click to continue…]

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Study Reconstruction in Washington, D.C. This Summer

reconstruction_congressFor those of you who are history teachers looking for professional development opportunities this summer, I encourage you to check out what Ford’s Theatre is offering on the Reconstruction Era. This is still one of the most misunderstood periods in American history and yet an argument could be made that a deep understanding of this history and its legacy has never been more important.

The program will bring you to the nation’s capital for one week to work with historians in a classroom setting and on site at places such as Arlington National Cemetery, the National Archives and the Frederick Douglass House. While the workshop focuses on the broad history of Reconstruction it will use the D.C. as a case study to examine such topics as the postwar push for civil rights and the lives of slaves in area contraband camps and in the Freedman’s Village at Arlington.

I will lead a session on the final day, which will examine the long-term legacy of Reconstruction with an examination of the 1915 film “Birth of a Nation” as well as ways that teachers can connect more recent events to the study of Reconstruction.

Move fast as there are a limited number of spaces.

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