Thursday, February 21, 2019

Booknotes: Approaching Civil War and Southern History

New Arrival:
Approaching Civil War and Southern History by William J. Cooper (LSU Press, 2019).

"Initially published between 1970 and 2012," the ten essays in Approaching Civil War and Southern History "span almost the entirety of William J. Cooper’s illustrious scholarly career and range widely across a broad spectrum of subjects in Civil War and southern history." In addition to the value of the work itself, the collection serves as a survey of Cooper's historical interests. He wrote what is most often considered the best Jefferson Davis biography to date and two essays address topics related to the Confederate president, the first reassessing his qualities as war leader and the second his postwar life through 1870. Two more individuals examined through Cooper essays are artist Edwin Forbes and author Daniel Hundley. I can't say that I've ever heard of Hundley before. His Social Relations in Our Southern States was published in 1860. In it the writer attempted to paint an honest portrait of the South as he saw it and hoped in vain that his book would help tame the passions of the time. Several more chapters examine various aspects of the secession crisis and what led up to it. Another looks at the 1890 election for governor of South Carolina.

Cooper contributes a preface for the book and adds some retrospective commentary for each chapter. "In the new introduction to each chapter, Cooper notes the essay’s origins and purpose, explaining how it fits into his overarching interest in the nineteenth-century political history of the South."

More from the description: "Combined and reprinted here for the first time, the ten essays in Approaching Civil War and Southern History reveal why Cooper is recognized today as one of the most influential historians of our time."


  1. I took Cooper for an "Antebellum South" class in the early 90s, and Hundley was one of the required reads.

    Joel Manuel
    Baton Rouge

    1. It doesn't sound like it would make our leisure reading list. It's cool that Cooper taught your class.


Blogger ID not required to comment, but please SIGN YOUR POST with your name. Otherwise, your comment may be rejected. Also, outside promotions are not allowed in the comments section.