Yes, it’s a slow day here at Civil War Memory. Not all of the credits that I earn as an Amazon affiliate go to purchasing the latest Civil War scholarship. I don’t read much Civil War fiction, but when I do I like to curl up with a book that reminds me of the war’s pain and suffering and the
joys heat of reunion. From Land of the Falling Stars:
Penniless, her parents and brother dead, Sophia Whitfield struggles to save her beloved childhood home during the Civil War. Another bluecoat is staggering down the hill, but before Sophia allows him to rob and pilfer like the others, she shoots him. How is she to know it is Gavin, the dark knight of her youth, carrying secrets too horrific to imagine and a passion that ignites her deepest desires? As Sophia gradually learns Gavin’s secrets—and enjoys his talents in the bedroom—she discovers how to finally know her own heart. Can she save the Land of Falling Stars, or will she lose it all to the horrors of the War and Reconstruction? And will the Southern lady and the Yankee soldier be able to recapture the bliss of their youth—this time in each other’s arms?
The following documentary by filmmaker Shukree Tilghman will air on New Hampshire Public Television on February 12, 2012. It looks to be pretty interesting. Watch the trailer for some truly bizarre claims made by the Sons of Confederate Veterans. My personal favorite: “After the war there was a major move to squash Confederate history.” Only someone completely ignorant to the trajectory of Civil War memory could make such a ridiculous claim.
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I came across a playful, but thoughtful comment this morning from one of Ta-Nahesi Coates’s readers, who goes by the name, Alabama_Girl. Here is an excerpt from the comment:
The other day I went through the last books left on the shelves of my parents home and there was one about Stonewall Jackson. Now, as a child I loved that story. Shot by mistake, the brilliant soldier whose death might have turned things? I found it fascinating as a child, not yet delving into the cause of the battle or his beliefs. And Southerners know how to spin a
tell[tale]. There’s a reason those live while tales of Grant languish. As an adult, I have to look at the cause he was fighting for, so was his death a sad thing, or thank you Baby Jesus that the dude died.
I love the way her story transitions from the child’s fascination with a key element of the Lost Cause narrative to a more mature reflection that acknowledges that the war was about something and that it mattered who was victorious. Substitute any high level Confederate officer and you arrive at what I take to be her conclusion: “thank you Baby Jesus that the dude died.” It’s not about celebrating any one individual’s death, but it is a simple acknowledgment that ‘death happens’ in war and that it matters who dies. In the case of Jackson’s death it reflects the obvious point that the right side won the Civil War given the consequences of a Confederate victory.
My interview on Studio 360 about Newt Gingrich’s Crater novel is now available. Unfortunately, they decided to go with another guest for the actual airing of the show, but they kept my segment as a bonus track. After listening to myself I can certainly see why. I’ve done a few radio interviews, but I still need to learn to slow down just a bit and choose my words more carefully. You may just want to read my review in The Atlantic. My next essay will be published on Monday, which offers a brief assessment of the Civil War Sesquicentennial.
Thanks again to Michele Siegel and host, Kurt Anderson for inviting me.