Just finished reading Jill Ogline Titus’s thoughtful essay on the Civil War sesquicentennial and its renewed focus on the themes of slavery and emancipation in the most recent issue of The Journal of the Civil War Era. Jill surveys how various institutions have interpreted these controversial themes through their exhibits, symposia, and websites. Continue reading
Today’s Washington Post features an essay on the Crater by Forstchen and Gingrich, which focuses on the men of the Fourth Division. You may remember that two co-authored a work of historical fiction on the battle back in 2011. Shortly after its publication I was invited by the Atlantic to review the book. Needless to say, the book has numerous problems even as a work of fiction, not the least of which is its failure to deal honestly with the well documented accounts of the massacre of large numbers of black Union soldiers. The authors also imagine a conversation between Robert E. Lee and William and Mahone in which the former orders that no captured black soldiers be harmed. There is no evidence of such a meeting taking place and even a fictional account has numerous problems. Continue reading
I am just about finished reading Brian Steel Wills’s new biography of William Dorsey Pender. It’s a solid biography, just what we’ve come to expect from Wills. Indeed, he has been very productive in recent years. Pender’s letters to his wife Fanny are front and center in this biography. One of the most interesting sections occurs early on in the book when Dorsey is chided by his wife for admitting to flirtatious behavior with women in Suffolk, Virginia, who he openly admitted, “will do anything for me.” That’s probably not what you want to write to your wife, who is struggling back in North Carolina to take care of two young children. Live and learn.
Even more interesting, however, is the revelation that shortly after the Antietam Campaign Pender chose to read Harriet Beecher Stowe’s Uncle Tom’s Cabin. Continue reading
By now many of you have heard that Alan Taylor has been awarded his second Pulitzer Prize for his book, The Internal Enemy: Slavery and War in Virginia, 1772-1832. It’s a fabulous book and the award is certainly well deserved.
Michelle Alexander, The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness (The New Press, 2010).
John McKee Barr, Loathing Lincoln: An American Tradition from the Civil War to the Present (Louisiana State University Press, 2014).
Michael Korda, Clouds of Glory: The Life and Legend of Robert E. Lee (Harper, 2014).
Brian Steel Wills, The River Was Dyed with Blood: Nathan Bedford Forrest and Fort Pillow (Oklahoma University Press, 2014).