Where Have You Gone, Bruce Catton?

Tomorrow my wife and I are going to head over to Cambridge to the Harvard Bookstore to hear a talk by David Blight.  I tend not to take my wife to hear Blight as she has what I would say is an unhealthy attraction to his voice.  Hopefully, she will be able to exercise sufficient self control.  Blight is going to talk about his new book, American Oracle: The Civil War in the Civil Rights Era, which explores the writings of Robert Penn Warren, Bruce Catton, Edmund Wilson, and James Baldwin.  Each of these writers struggled to come to terms with America’s collective memory of the Civil War during the civil rights era.  Like much of everything else Blight has written the book is well worth your time.

One of the things I find interesting is the lack of a prominent Civil War historian or literary figure, who occupies the same space as did Penn Warren, Catton, Wilson, and Baldwin.  In terms of historians of that era I would also include Allan Nevins and Douglass Southall Freeman, though he died in 1953.  Perhaps you disagree, but if so, I would be curious to know who you think fills those roles and speaks for our generation’s memory of the war.  If you agree with me, I would also like to hear why.

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You Interpret

Let’s get things started: Nothin’ more relaxin’ than throw’n back a cool one after a long day of killin’ Yankees.

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Setting the Record a Little Too Straight

Confederate Monument at Arlington National Cemetery sculpted by Moses Ezekiel

Over the weekend I was informed of an editorial on black Confederates that appeared in The Free Lance-Star in Fredericksburg, Virginia by Calvin Crollier and Kevin Crowder.  I have no idea who these individuals are or why they felt a need to wade into this discussion.  In fact, I probably would not have taken the time to write a response except for the fact that I am referenced, along with Bruce Levine, as examples of historians who have “attempt[ed] to set the record a little too straight.”  I have no idea what this is suppose to mean.  I have no problem with publishing a wide range of opinion on any subject in a newspaper’s opinion column, but it seems to me that there is a difference between thoughtful and responsible commentary and commentary that does little more than obscure and mislead the public.  It is safe to say that this essay by Crollier and Crowder is an example of the latter.  You can read my response here.

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Gearing Up For CWI’s 2012 Gettysburg Conference

I recently accepted an invitation to take part in the Civil War Institute’s annual conference at Gettysburg College, which will take place from June 22-26, 2012.  Unfortunately, my move to Boston prevented me from taking part in this past 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.  I’ve seen a preliminary schedule and the sessions look to be very interesting and the presenters are all well-respected scholars.  I will be taking part in a panel with Brooks Simpson and Keith Harris on Civil War blogging so that should be a lot of fun.

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Three Videos

Dave Chappelle's "Time Haters" Skit: "Because shooting a slave master is just funny...no matter what color your skin."

It never ceases to amaze me of the extent to which readers get emotionally worked up about the videos I post on this site.  Here are three videos that I’ve posted in the past.  All of them led to heated discussion in the comments section here as well as on other sites.

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