Tuesday, August 10, 2021

Booknotes: The Long Civil War

New Arrival:
The Long Civil War: New Explorations of America's Enduring Conflict edited by John David Smith & Raymond Arsenault (UP of Ky, 2021).

Reasonable people can agree to disagree over how much the emerging tenets of the "Long Civil War" school of thought shortchange the real and permanent results and accomplishments of the 1861-65 period (Gary Gallagher is a leading critic), but it has proven to be a popular interpretive movement in the academic literature. The Long Civil War: New Explorations of America's Enduring Conflict, edited by John David Smith and Raymond Arsenault, is another attempt to "build on the growing body of work on the "Long Civil War" and break new ground."

The ten essays in the book "cover a variety of related subjects, including antebellum missionary activity and colonialism in Africa, the home front, the experiences of disabled veterans in the US Army Veteran Reserve Corps, and Dwight D. Eisenhower's personal struggles with the war's legacy amid the growing civil rights movement. The contributors offer fresh interpretations and challenging analyses of topics such as ritualistic suicide among former Confederates after the war and whitewashing in Walt Disney Studios' historical Cold War–era movies." Other chapters look at the abolition lobby of the 1836-45 decade, Emory Upton's modernization of the US Army, slavery's shadow in the WW1 training camp at Camp Gordon (Ga), and Lincoln's image in black history and memory.

"Featuring many leading figures in the field," The Long Civil War "meaningfully expands the focus of mid-nineteenth-century history as it was understood by previous generations of historians."

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