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Glorious Contentment: The Grand Army of the Republic, 1865-1900 (Civil War America) Paperback – February 26, 1997

ISBN-13: 978-0807846285 ISBN-10: 0807846287 Edition: 1st

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Product Details

  • Series: Civil War America
  • Paperback: 332 pages
  • Publisher: The University of North Carolina Press; 1 edition (February 26, 1997)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0807846287
  • ISBN-13: 978-0807846285
  • Product Dimensions: 9.4 x 6.3 x 0.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,014,230 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

In a scholarly tome, McConnell, a history professor at Pitzer College in California, draws on an exhaustive synthesis of archival and published sources to challege the stereotype of the Grand Army of the Republic, the largest Union Army veterans' organization, as a flag-waving pressure group focussing on veterans' pensions and Republican politics. He depicts instead an organization that rapidly shed its partisan, quasi-military nature to develop along lines of typical Gilded Age fraternal orders. Loyal GAR lodges were centers of business as well as fellowship, while the national organization focused on ideals of self-sacrifice and comradeship as manifested in wartime service. Restricted to Union veterans, the membership held a preservationist vision of American identity and an increasingly sentimentalized view of the Civil War. The GAR enjoyed three decades of "glorious contentment" before being overtaken by the realities of the new century. Illustrated.
Copyright 1992 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Library Journal

Gilded Age America, argues this book, can best be understood as a postwar period. McConnell (history, Pitzer Coll.) uses the Grand Army of the Republic (GAR) as a tool to illuminate what this meant in the industrializing North. Much more than a partisan Republican political club lobbying ceaselessly for higher pensions for Union veterans, the GAR introduced significantly new notions of charity to the country. In keeping alive their maudlin memories as well as the high ideals of the Civil War, the organization's veterans helped shape the outlook of the nation. Finally, the GAR offered a self-image of a simpler America that, although it had in fact disappeared in the smoke of the war and postwar industrialization, proved appealing to middle-class whites in the throes of immense social change. The applicability to our own postwar period is obvious. Provocative social history for specialists.
- Thomas E. Schott, Office of History, 17th Air Force, Sembach, Germany
Copyright 1992 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Customer Reviews

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I am still looking for a book on this subject; this is not a bad book but is not the book we need.
James W. Durney
The Grand Army however was a very influential middle class lobby that was able to influence what was printed into the history books.
Douglas E. Libert
Except for the third chapter, which tediously examines membership patterns in various local posts, it is very engaging.
ClioSmith

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By James W. Durney TOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on March 27, 2008
Format: Paperback
The story of the Union veterans of the Civil War is a complex one containing many subplots and competing lines. Like the war, nothing is simple and easy answers will not suffice to the complex questions. These men, like the age they lived in, are very different in outlook, challenges and attitudes. The common threads of remembrance, place in history and compensation interest all veterans.
The Grand Army of the Republic was the first truly organized veteran organization in America. Comprised of men who served in the Union Army during the war, it had tremendous political power with one in ten voters being members. This book covers the years from the end of the war, 1865, to when age and death had reduced the member's power. The author chose 1900 as the end of the book. While these men would live for almost another 60 years, their political power had started to diminish and would shortly fail.
The author judges the GAR by our standards and finds them wanting. He seems to have little respect for the organization, no sympathy for the men and damns them for holding the common views of race and religion for their time. The GAR was a white, Republican, anti-catholic organization but so was most of America from 1865 to 1900. The GAR is only a reflection of the society the men came from and were part of. This needs understanding and not judgment.
Another problem is sequencing of the story. The author cannot decide how to tell the story. Are we sequenced by year or do we cover a topic? The answer is both and the results can be difficult to follow. The reader is always trying to catch up with the switch from one style to the other.
I am still looking for a book on this subject; this is not a bad book but is not the book we need.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Douglas E. Libert on September 3, 2012
Format: Paperback
An excellent critical book on the Grand Army of the Republic. It makes one wonder from reading it how many interpretations of Civil War events were deleted by the Grand Army's "politically correct" philosophy. Abe Lincoln might not have been the great military genius as he is represented in so many other books,in fact he might have been not much more than an Illinois railroad lawyer that was used by a powerful railroad lobby to push their interests.
The Grand Army however was a very influential middle class lobby that was able to influence what was printed into the history books. Apparently there were a lot of critics in the north,including many in "high places", who may have supported the war yet were critical of some of Lincoln's policies for various reasons. These critics which included some influential Union officers and opposition party members, were hushed during the war from presenting their ideas. When the war was over,the GAR helped keep Lincoln's presidency "smelling like a rose"(this all despite the Lincoln administration's unpopular draft,some rioting,protests,suspension of Habeus Corpus,I could go on and on. The GAR also decided which Union Generals would be seen as "saviors" of the Union and which ones would be seen as somewhat less than patriotic.
In regard to the Veterans Pensions handed out later to Union Veterans, the determination of who received them and how much was also a political function of the GAR. I get the feeling from my read of the book, that a lot of qualified Union veterans were most probably denied their pensions,and others less qualified were rubber stamped due to political connections with the GAR. Once again the author stressed the GAR was definitely a "bourgoisie" outfit and had a political agenda and the veteran seemed subservient to GAR policy.
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5 of 7 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on December 1, 2003
Format: Paperback
I highly recommend this book on a Civil War-related topic that
is very little known. The organization and activities of the Union veterans of the Grand Army of the Republic offer a host of
lessons for us today. It is an intriguing look at the effects of the Civil War on those who fought it, as well as their goals
and efforts to shape postwar society. My favorite portion was the section on the efforts of the veterans to inculcate patriotic
values among the youth of the Gilded Age. Well worth the time to
expand your knowledge of this aspect of the Civil War!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By James D. Crabtree VINE VOICE on April 8, 2014
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
While I am interested in the GAR this book concentrates too much on looooong discussions on the ethnic and social makeup of members of various camps, the stratum based on officer ranks, and so on. There is so much of this that it's difficult to get through to the relief efforts of the Grand Army, its efforts to build monuments to various events and units and the political role the GAR played in postwar America.
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