Monday, August 6, 2018

Booknotes: A Family and Nation under Fire

New Arrival:
A Family and Nation under Fire: The Civil War Letters and Journals of William and Joseph Medill edited by Georgiann Baldino (Kent St Univ Press, 2018).

Edited by Georgiann Baldino, A Family and Nation under Fire is a "collection of previously unpublished diaries and correspondence between William Medill and older brother Joseph." Readers will probably be much more familiar with the higher profile of Joseph Medill, who was associated with the Chicago Tribune and is frequently mentioned in the Civil War literature. William Medill reached the rank of major in the 8th Illinois Cavalry and was mortally wounded during the Gettysburg Campaign. In their writings, "(t)he brothers correct newspaper coverage of the war, disagree with official military reports, and often condemn Lincoln administration policies."

Other correspondence is included as well. From the description: "Joseph’s letters to President Lincoln reveal their exceptional relationship. A founding member of the Republican Party, Joseph was a powerful force for moral journalism. With his partner Dr. Charles Ray, Joseph extended the Tribune’s reach until it achieved national influence. By 1860, Ray and Joseph claim to have elected Abraham Lincoln president, and Lincoln publicly agrees that their paper did more for him than any paper in the Midwest. When regional divisions escalate, Joseph issues early calls for war and lobbies fervently for emancipation. He continues to support Lincoln and the war effort but uses the Tribune to advise Washington about the conduct of the war, the draft, monetary policy, and slavery. In private letters, Joseph lectures the president about emancipation, urging him to take an aggressive stance toward slave owners and warning about the Conscription Act."

William's letters "rail against inept leaders, good men weakened by shortages, lives wasted, and destruction that defies understanding. His eyewitness accounts provide a fascinating perspective―part personal trauma and part social commentary."

In addition to compiling the material for publication, Baldino contributes volume and chapter introductions, abundant bridging narrative throughout the book, and endnotes.

1 comment:

  1. Thank you for posting and letting Civil War buffs know about this new collection of provocative letters.


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