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Monday, January 12, 2009

Confederates in the Attic

The third in a series of mini-reviews because my lazy butt is way behind on book reviews.

Confederates in the Attic: Dispatches from the Unfinished Civil War by Tony Horwitz
Reason for Reading: In Their Shoes Reading Challenge
Rating: 4.5/5

The only reason I'm rating Confederates in the Attic 4.5/5 instead of 5/5 is because a few of the chapters are really, really long. I had to skip one of them, because the word 'Civil Wargasm' was getting on my nerves.

Otherwise, an amazing, eye-opening book. Tony Horwitz took his childhood interest in the Civil War to a new level by traveling around the South in search of Civil War relics, battle fields, and most importantly stories. Evenhandedly and well-presented are the many people he encounters with an Obsession (capital O) with the Civil War. Some he meets are reenactors of both the hard-core (weekend-long marches in ill-fitting boots, spooning with fellow soldiers for warmth to have the most authentic experience) and farb (Anything short of hardcore, but mostly showing up for big battle reenactments) variety.

Many of the civil-war obsessed he meets in the South, however, are obsessed with the mythology of the Confederacy. All are inevitably white, most are racist, and all seem to subscribe to a revisionist history of the Civil War that makes them resistant, 150 years later, to Yanks. There are clubs for Daughters of the Confederacy, Sons of the Confederacy, and clubs to teach your kids about the principles of Southern Pride.

Horwitz also examines the Shiloh battlefield, interviews Shelby Foote (famous Civil War historian) and takes the reader on a close-up view of Andersonville, the notorious POW camp where captured Union soldiers were luckily to survive long enough to be released.

Should I read it? If you have even the slightest interest in the Civil War, you'll find at least one of the chapters of this diverse book fascinating.


Literary Feline said...

This sounds like something my father or husband might really like. They are interested in the Civil War era and have read quite a few books on the subject. Thanks for the great review!

Lauryn said...

I might have to check this out. I'm always interested in what's being written on The War of Northern Aggression. ;) Haha!

Kim L said...

Literary Feline-YES!! If they are interested in the Civil War, they will love this one!

Lauryn-okay srsly some of the people interviewed in this book not only referred to the Civil War that way, but that was probably the least offensive way they revised history to suit their needs.