Tuesday, January 14, 2020

Booknotes: The Women's Fight

New Arrival:
The Women's Fight: The Civil War's Battles for Home, Freedom, and Nation by Thavolia Glymph (UNC Press, 2020).

In her book The Women's Fight: The Civil War's Battles for Home, Freedom, and Nation, historian Thavolia Glymph "provides a comprehensive new history of women's roles and lives in the Civil War--North and South, white and black, slave and free--showing how women were essentially and fully engaged in all three arenas [military, home, and political fronts]. Glymph focuses on the ideas and ideologies that drove women's actions, allegiances, and politics. We encounter women as they stood their ground, moved into each other's territory, sought and found common ground, and fought for vastly different principles."

With Part I covering southern women (free and enslaved), Part II discussing northern women, and Part III more specifically addressing the harder edges of the intersection between home and fighting fronts (including the refugee crisis), the study is indeed "broadly conceived." I don't mean to pick on this book in particular, but I wonder if we'll ever reach the point when the people of Indian Territory, who were direct participants in the Civil War and suffered terribly in the bargain, are incorporated into home front studies like this one. Sure the research barriers are daunting, but today's historians pride themselves on elevating neglected voices from the past and they're well equipped to take on those kinds of challenges.

More from the description: The Women's Fight "shows how the Civil War exposed as never before the nation's fault lines, not just along race and class lines but also along the ragged boundaries of gender. However, Glymph makes clear that women's experiences were not new to the mid-nineteenth century; rather, many of them drew on memories of previous conflicts, like the American Revolution and the War of 1812, to make sense of the Civil War's disorder and death."

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