The Civil War Monitor’s Best Books of 2013

In addition to my short travel piece on Civil War Boston for the latest issue of The Civil War Monitor, I also took part in the magazine’s “Best of 2013″ feature. Seven of us, including Ken Noe, Andrew Wagenhoffer, Robert Krick, Ethan Rafuse, Brooks Simpson and Harry Smeltzer were asked to select a “Top Pick” along with an “Honorable Mention.” Here are my selections. [click to continue…]

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Preservation of Historical Memory Runs in the Family

Alan Levin at the Kennedy Plaza

Alan Levin at the Kennedy Plaza on the boardwalk in Atlantic City, New Jersey

Imagine my surprise when I came across this feature story this morning in my hometown newspaper about my own father, whose efforts to preserve John F. Kennedy Plaza on the boardwalk in Atlantic City, New Jersey are finally being acknowledged on this 50th anniversary of the president’s assassination. My father loves this site for reasons mentioned in the article. [click to continue…]

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Interpreting the Civil War on the Eve of the Centennial

Here is a wonderful little time capsule from the eve of the Civil War centennial in 1960. Those of you who teach courses on Civil War memory will find it particularly interesting. There are very few surprises in how the documentary frames the causes and consequences of the war along with slavery and emancipation. The need to maintain a national consensus at the height of the Cold War is clearly discernible. My favorite line is the claim that white northerners had difficulty on the battlefield early on owing to their unfamiliarity with guns. It turns out that before the war they were all working in shops and factories.

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Civil War Boston for Bostonians

The current issue of The Civil War Monitor includes my top 10 list of Civil War-related sites in and around Boston. I fully realize that this is a subjective choice, but I do hope it reveals to Bostonians and visitors that the city’s Civil War commemorative landscape is worth exploring along with its rich history from the Revolution. Thanks to Terry Johnston for the opportunity to share a bit of the history from my new home. Click here for your subscription to the CWM.

Civil War Monitor Top 10

Civil War Monitor Top 10 (1-5)

Civil War Monitor Top 10

Civil War Monitor Top 10 (6-10)

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Review of Caroline Janney’s Remembering the Civil War

JanneyHere is my review of Caroline Janney’s book, Remembering the Civil War: Reunion and the Limits of Reconciliation, which will appear in the next issue of the Virginia Magazine of History and Biography (pp. 389-90). It goes without saying that I highly recommend this book.

In 2001, David Blight published Race and Reunion: The Civil War in American Memory. The book won numerous awards and helped to shape a wave of academic studies that soon followed. Blight’s depiction of a nation that by the turn of the twentieth century had largely embraced sectional reconciliation at the expense of a legacy of emancipation also found a voice outside academic halls on National Park Service battlefields and in museum exhibitions. Many have embraced the narrative of emancipation and its emphasis on African American soldiers throughout the sesquicentennial commemorations as part of an effort to overcome a nation’s willful amnesia. [click to continue…]

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