Discussion Forum No. 1 – Jason Phillips and Confederate Perceptions of the Enemy (Significance)

This second thread will focus on the contributions of "A Brother's War".  Did the article reinforce certain assumptions and/or did it broaden your understanding of the soldier's experience and the scope of the Civil War?  In short, is this an important piece of research?  Why or why not.

Click here for the first thread.

Click here for the third thread.

Discussion Forum No. 1 – Jason Phillips and Confederate Perceptions of the Enemy (Content)

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Welcome to the first of what will hopefully be a series of discussion forums on various interpretations of the Civil War.  For this first forum we will discuss Jason Phillips's "A Brother's War?: Exploring Confederate Perceptions of the Enemy" which appeared in Aaron Sheehan Dean's ed., The View From the Ground: Experiences of Civil War Soldiers (University of Kentucky Press, 2007). 

I initially planned on offering a few opening remarks, but have decided to contribute in the form of comments so as not to assume any position of authority on the topic at hand.  There will be two threads.  On this post the focus will be on Phillips's thesis, which can be found on p. 73 as well as other issues:

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Suspicious of Academics?

I first started reading Civil War history back in 1995 while an employee at a fairly large Borders Books and Music in Rockville, Maryland just outside of Washington, D.C.  My responsibilities included maintaining the Civil War section and I did so with a great deal of satisfaction.  In addition to reading a great deal, I maintained a folder, which included recent book reviews and led a very successful Civil War reading group that met monthly.  From the beginning my specific interests extended beyond the battlefield so most of the books I read were written by college professors and published by university presses.  I never gave much thought to the fact that it was history professors that were providing me with my education in American history.  I placed and continue to place a certain value on advanced degrees without allowing it cloud my responsibilities as a critical reader.  My approach to each book was pretty much the same.  I read carefully and kept a careful eye on following the author's argument and the evidence used to support it.  The reading group also approached assigned readings with the same goal.  On occasion I even invited local authors to join us in our discussions.  Two that stand out include Craig Symonds and Kevin C. Ruffner.  Authors quickly understood that our sessions were not simply an opportunity to sell a book and tell little stories that had been collected during the course of their research.  We had read their books and were ready to challenge their claims as part of our responsibility as critical readers.  I still remember walking Dr. Ruffner out the door after his presentation; let's just say he was pleasantly surprised and appreciative.

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Reading Questions for “A Brother’s War?”

Update: Just a quick reminder that our discussion will take place on Friday.  I plan on offering some opening remarks to get the discussion going, but feel free to write-up your own assessment and post it to the comments.  We will see how things develop from there.

[See earlier post on this subject]

Our Online discussion about "A Brother's War?: Exploring Confederate Perceptions of the Enemy" by Jason Phillips will take place on August 22.  Peter Carmichael was nice enough to come up with a set of reading/interpretive questions to guide our reading and discussion.

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Alan Nolan

I just found out that Alan Nolan died yesterday.  As far as I can tell there is nothing in the news so if I come across any additional information I will make sure to pass it on.  Nolan was the author of numerous Civil War studies, most notably, Lee Considered: Robert E. Lee and Civil War History and the Iron Brigade: A Military History.

Please feel free to share your memories of this controversial historian.  I am interested in hearing from those of you who knew him personally or have spent time reading his books and articles.