From the beginning of its formation, one of the central goals for the Virginia Sesquicentennial Commission has been educational outreach. It is doing this in a number of ways from organizing conferences to creating mobile exhibits that will travel throughout the state between 2011 and 2015. Included in this is the creation of educational materials suitable for use in k-12 classrooms. This fall Virginia PBS stations will air “Virginia in the Civil War”. This was a joint project between the Virginia Sesquicentennial Commission and Virginia Tech’s Center for Civil War Studies. The documentary is three hours in length and will be broken down into nine 20 minute segments. I couldn’t be more pleased with the commission’s focus on educational materials and this documentary, which will be made available to every public and private school in the state, will surely come in handy.
I had a wonderful time in Louisville at the SHA. It’s a wonderful opportunity to listen to thoughtful presentations and meet up with old friends. When I have time I will share some thoughts about one of the panels on Civil War memory and the Sesquicentennial. Of course, one of the best features of the conference is the book room, which features most of the major publishers that deal in Civil War and Southern history. Most of the books are available at a significant discount. Here is what I picked up this year:
Robert E. Bonner Mastering America: Southern Slaveholders and the Crisis of American Nationhood (Cambridge University Press, 2009).
Paul D. Escott, ed., North Carolinians in the Era of the Civil War and Reconstruction (University of North Carolina Press, 2008).
Leeanna Keith, The Colfax Massacre: The Untold Story of Black Power, White Terror, and the Death of Reconstruction (Oxford University Press, 2008).
LeeAnn Whites and Alecia P. Long, eds., Occupied Women: Gender, Military Occupation, and the American Civil War (Louisiana State University Press, 2009).
With the publication of three books on the battle of the Crater in the past two years, one might reasonably ask if there is a need for yet another. These previous treatments (written mainly by non-academic historians) have collectively addressed the tactical complexity of the battle, including the early morning explosion of 8,000 pounds of black powder under a Confederate salient and they have provided an exhaustive account of the close-quarter combat and blood-letting that ensued for close to eight hours on a battlefield that was ripped open by the initial blast. Such a focus is a staple of traditional military history. But as much as we have learned about the nature of combat in the trenches around Petersburg in the summer of 1864 there are key aspects of this battle that have not been sufficiently addressed by the previous literature.
The following post originally appeared on December 12, 2005
Being Ed Ayers
In the most recent issue of North and South there is a very interesting exchange between Ed Ayers and a letter to the editor in the Crossfire section. The writer responded to Ayers’s article, “What Caused the Civil War” which appeared in a previous issue (Vol. 8, #5); the article is essentially a reprint from his most recent book of essays titled, What Caused the Civil War: Reflections on the South and Southern History. I think Ayers is one of the more talented historians writing today. I’ve read through his Pulitzer-Prize nominated book, The Promise of the New South so many times that it has a rubber band around it to keep it together. The only other book in my library in that condition is Plato’s Republic. More recently Ayers won the Bancroft Prize for In the Presence of Mine Enemies which is based on his Valley of the Shadow project out of the University of Virginia.
Here is the latest in recent acquisitions. On Thursday I head to Louisville, Kentucky for the annual meeting of the Southern Historical Association. No doubt, I will end up lugging a bag of books home with me.
Thomas A. Desjardin, Stand Firm Ye Boys From Maine: The 20th Maine and the Gettysburg Campaign (Oxford University Press, 1995 – 25th anniversary edition)
Wayne Wei-Siang Hsieh, West Pointers in the Civil War: The Old Army in War and Peace (University of North Carolina Press, 2009)
Robert M. Poole, On Hallowed Ground: The Story of Arlington National Cemetery (Walker & Company, 2009)
Thomas Sugrue, Sweet Land of Liberty: The Forgotten Struggle for Civil Rights in the North (Random House, 2009)
Joan Waugh, U.S. Grant: American Hero, American Myth (University of North Carolina Press, 2009)