FERGIT, HAIL. Tony Horwitz discovers a collection of photographs, reads a little history, meets some reenactors, and goes on a tour of the states in rebellion to catalog Confederates in the Attic: Dispatches from the Unfinished Civil War. He goes on his tour about the same time the popular culture discovers identity politics, and the resulting work makes for an intriguing Book Review No. 12. There's a little bit of everything in the book: stops at obscure and not-so-obscure battlefields, conversations with local historians, visits to schools, an audience with Shelby Foote. That unfinished civil war is, ultimately, about race relations (still strained in the late 1990s, and school curricula contaminated by different kinds of identity politics in different school districts, Brown v. Board of Education notwithstanding.) And while the centennial of the Civil War might have given civil rights advocates new material to work with, the activity of the civil rights advocates might have given the Confederacy a new birth of nostalgia (the battle flag becoming variously a symbol of resistance, and a taunt to outsiders.) There's a great deal of material that calls into question the received view of the great battles and campaigns. Consider taking the book along on any battlefield tour in the south.
(Cross-posted to 50 Book Challenge.)