Tuesday, June 09, 2009

On "Two Ways to Approach One War"

Civil War literature can be divided into two classes of historians, non-academics writing about military events and academics focused on the home front and politics, explains Gary W. Gallagher in his essay in the August 2009 issue of Civil War Times. Gallagher observes, "Both these Civil Wars form part of a complicated story that cannot be comprehended by mastering only one." He defines a particular kind of military history, a third way that puts the great battles and campaigns in context to the broader impact on Main Street and Pennsylvania Avenue.

To be mindful of the larger context in which events unfold is a responsibility that non-academic and academic historians share alike, regardless of the lens in which an author chooses to frame an article or book. The best writers in either class manage to do this by seeking different perspectives during the course of their research. Moreover, they reflect those perspectives in a measured and thoughtful way in their writing. This is a function of natural curiosity, education and experience.

No single volume about the war captures the complexity of the period. No volume is likely ever to be produced. It is the complete body of literature on the subject that speaks to the depth and breadth of this tragic conflict.

Current and future readers and writers have an opportunity to learn and share and contribute to this dynamic and ever expanding field of study.

As our country evolves in the wake of the great events that have shaped our past and impact the current time in which we live, it is in the best interests of those who will form our future to comprehend how we came to be. For the better informed we are, the less likely we may be filled with fear and anxiety about what we will become.

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Friday, April 17, 2009

Civil War Times Review

The June 2009 issue of Civil War Times Magazine includes a review of Faces of the Confederacy. Of particular interest is Jack Trammell's focus on the importance of the soldier cartes de visite, which is unusual, as most reviewers emphasize the stories of the volunteers. The review concludes with Trammell recognizing the combination of photographs and stories:

"Coddington's book reminds us that the face of war never really changes, and that conflict never comes at a convenient moment for anyone."

Thanks to my friend Alan Rudolph, who alerted me to the review's publication in CWT.

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Tuesday, October 07, 2008

Advertisement in "Civil War Times"

Pleasantly surprised this morning to discover an advertisement for Faces of the Confederacy while thumbing through the latest issue of Civil War Times magazine (December 2008, Gen. Benjamin Prentiss on the cover). Included is the endorsement of author Bob Zeller of the Center for Civil War Photography, who noted, "Coddington has brought new life to Civil War photographic portraits of obscure and long-forgotten Confederates whose wartime experiences might otherwise have been lost to history."

The ad also refers to two other books, Gustavus Vasa Fox of the Union Navy by Ari Hoogenboom and Testament to Union: Civil War Monuments in Washington, D.C., by Kathryn Allamong Jacob.

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