Friday, June 15, 2018

Booknotes: Fighting Means Killing

New Arrival:
Fighting Means Killing: Civil War Soldiers and the Nature of Combat by Jonathan M. Steplyk (Univ Pr of Kansas, 2018).

The experience of Civil War combat has been explored in various works but until now no book has been solely devoted to contextualizing the act of killing itself. Jonathan Steplyk's Fighting Means Killing: Civil War Soldiers and the Nature of Combat is "the first book-length study of Union and Confederate soldiers’ attitudes toward, and experiences of, killing in the Civil War."

From the description: "Drawing upon letters, diaries, and postwar reminiscences, Steplyk examines what soldiers and veterans thought about killing before, during, and after the war. How did these soldiers view sharpshooters? How about hand-to-hand combat? What language did they use to describe killing in combat? What cultural and societal factors influenced their attitudes? And what was the impact of race in battlefield atrocities and bitter clashes between white Confederates and black Federals? These are the questions that Steplyk seeks to answer in Fighting Means Killing, a work that bridges the gap between military and social history—and that shifts the focus on the tragedy of the Civil War from fighting and dying for cause and country to fighting and killing."

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