Monday, April 18, 2011

1861: The Civil War Awakening

Unidentified soldier in Union officer's uniform at Point Lookout,
Tennessee. (Liljenquist Family Collection, Library of Congress)

Slate published an interesting interview with Adam Goodheart on Friday. He is the author of the brand-new 1861: The Civil War Awakening, and is a main contributor to the New York Times Disunion blog. Go to the Slate article and launch the slide slow for some select images from the Liljenquist collection that was recently donated to the Library of Congress. 

Slate: Americans have a sense of the whole scope of the Civil War, but what is it about the year 1861 that we miss when we look back and see the Civil War as a single complete event?

Goodheart: We tend to think of the Civil War in a very fatalistic way, as a sort of vast national martyrdom. It's hard to recover the fact that things could have turned out very, very differently. It's also hard to grasp the idea that Americans at the beginning of the war had no sense of the way that things were going to unfold. When I wrote the book, I really wanted to recover that moment of uncertainty and change – to convey how people, then and now, experience history not as seen from 30,000 feet as the History Channel might, but as a barrage of individual events coming at them, alternately thrilling and terrifying.

1 comment:

France said...

The attention to detail is superb, and there are many things in the book that I was completely unaware of (like how beards were considered to be for the less fortunate until there was a movement towards "manliness").

The author did a really good job of making you feel like you were living through the moments as they happened. I really like this book.