Back From Chicago

Just a quick shout out to Daniel Weinberg (l) and Bjorn Skaptason (r) of the Abraham Lincoln Book Shop for inviting me to Chicago as part of their Virtual Book Signing series.  I had a wonderful time.  Dan did a great job interviewing me along with Glenn LaFantasie.  We didn’t get into any great detail having to do with the book, but I appreciate his laid back style and the chance to reflect on some broader issues related to historical memory.  I signed around 25 copies and we even had a nice little audience in the story, which made it that much more intimate.  The store has a small number of signed copies available for purchase and I strongly encourage you to buy from them if interested.  It’s important that we do what we can to keep independent book stores like ALBS in business.  The interview should be uploaded at some point soon and will be posted here at that time.

My wife and I had a great time in Chicago, though our stay was much too short.  We did meet up with old friends and had an incredible dinner in Greek Town yesterday evening.  We did a great deal of walking and spent plenty of time looking up at the beautiful architecture.  That said, it was nice to touch down earlier tonight in Boston.  I’ve spent much of the past month on the road so it will be nice to relax and get back to a regular routine.

Upcoming Talk:  This Saturday I will be speaking and signing books at the Grand Army Hall in Scituate, MA.  The event is being sponsored by the Sons of Union Veterans and it promises to be a fun time for all.  I am going to talk about USCTs at the Crater.  My talk will take place at 11am.

Searching for Black Confederates: The Civil War’s Most Persistent Myth

“Levin’s study is the first of its kind to blueprint and then debunk the mythology of enslaved African Americans who allegedly served voluntarily in behalf of the Confederacy.”–Journal of Southern History

Purchase your copy today!

5 comments… add one
  • Mark Douglas Aug 6, 2012 @ 11:39

    One of the most unreported facts in US history is Robert E Lee’s role at the start of the Civil War. His first effort at commanding miltarily went badly — he had never done that before, other than 3 minutes or so when he was picked to stop John Brown. That took three minutes, and Brown was not attacking.

    After Lee did badly initially, Davis had Lee put in charge of the construction of the massive earth works — 70 miles long, and stunningly large. They were the only reason the war lasted as long as it did, since Richmond and Petersburg could stay behind the row after row of immense trenches — well designed by Lee to be impervious to any cannon. If you don’t know what earthworks are, go to Fort McCallister and walk around a replica today — no doubt they weren’t that well kept, but they we massive.

    Lee was in charge of that. In fact, he was called “Kind of Spades” by newspaper men in the Richmond area. One sobering fact, since we know Lee had slave girls whipped in peace time, while he yelled at them during their torture, imagine what he did to grown men during war time, when Lee’s life depended on their toil.

    If any Lee biographer even mentions this period, they will frame it like “Lee was well aware of the value of defensive strategy around Richmond, and took appropriate steps to ensure it”. Appropriate steps = euphemism for slave.
    labor. You don’t even notice what the hell they are talking about.

    The slave built trenches — almost super human in scale –had to rival any construction job in US history, all done by hand, all done by, essentially, slaves. There may have been some whites told to participate in some way–it’s hard to tell.

    We have kept Lee’s slave ledgers secret for 150 years — and there are still about 10,000 letters in Lee’s family possession. Without question some of those letters would discuss the earth works, since he was in charge of them for months, and then essentially spent much of the rest of the war behind them, or able to run back behind them when he wanted. We all know about the famous “Crater” but that was an effort to dig UNDER the massive earth works.

    The reason we don’t hear much about the earth works is that were done by slave labor — which other famous people used massive slave labor in wartime? You can name them, I bet.

    Douglas Southall Freeman mentions the “King of Spades” as if its a good nature quip in a love fest. We now know the horrors that happened at Arlington, could there be some documents showing the horrors slaves endured under Lee along the Earth works.

    In an era when people think they are geniuses for discovering the name of Lee’s pet chicken ( Nellie) , it might be a tad more insightful to Lee and the Civil War if we knew the details of his use of laves along the earthworks.

  • Charles Bowery Jul 30, 2012 @ 11:51

    I’ll be visiting Chicago at the end of August, and hope to stop by the shop and purchase a signed copy of the book. Bjorn is a superb battlefield tour leader- I had the pleasure of following him around Shiloh during the 150th celebrations in April.

    • Kevin Levin Jul 30, 2012 @ 11:54

      Have a great time and thanks for buying a copy of the book. Hope you enjoy it.

  • Bjorn Skaptason Jul 30, 2012 @ 5:55


    Many thanks for making the trip! We received good comments about the show, and we’re thrilled to be able to offer our customers signed first edition copies of Remembering the Battle of the Crater.

    The video will be posted on our Archive page as soon as it is edited.

    I look forward to your forthcoming projects.



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