Friday, June 2, 2017

Booknotes: The Home Voices Speak Louder Than the Drums

New Arrival:
The Home Voices Speak Louder Than the Drums: Dreams and the Imagination in Civil War Letters and Memoirs by Wanda Easter Burch (McFarland, 2017).

From the description: "Providing fresh perspective on the human side of the Civil War, this book explores the dreams and imaginings of those who fought it, as recorded in their letters, journals and memoirs. Sometimes published as poems or songs or printed in newspapers, these rarely acknowledged writings reflect the personalities and experiences of their authors. Some expressions of fear, pain, loss, homesickness and disappointment are related with grim fatalism, some with glimpses of humor."

According to the author, dreams were a vital part of maintaining soldier and home front morale, though one might imagine the opposite being true as well. The book is a remarkable record of Civil War dreaming compiled from a large body of primary source materials. Chapters examine soldier dreams of home, friends, and family, as well as imagined worlds of martial glory, defeat, or death. The study also encompasses the dreams of war correspondents and artists, prisoners, chaplains, slaves, caregivers of the wounded, and families at home. Other chapters look at very common dream subjects like homesickness and presentiments of death. This is just a sampling of the book's range.

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