Enter your mobile number or email address below and we'll send you a link to download the free Kindle App. Then you can start reading Kindle books on your smartphone, tablet, or computer - no Kindle device required.

  • Apple
  • Android
  • Windows Phone
  • Android

To get the free app, enter your email address or mobile phone number.

The Last Generation: Young Virginians in Peace, War, and Reunion (Civil War America) 1st Edition

4.4 out of 5 stars 5 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-0807861851
ISBN-10: 0807861855
Why is ISBN important?
This bar-code number lets you verify that you're getting exactly the right version or edition of a book. The 13-digit and 10-digit formats both work.
Scan an ISBN with your phone
Use the Amazon App to scan ISBNs and compare prices.
Have one to sell? Sell on Amazon
Buy new
Only 5 left in stock (more on the way).
Ships from and sold by Amazon.com. Gift-wrap available.
List Price: $30.00 Save: $16.55 (55%)
20 New from $13.45
FREE Shipping on orders with at least $25 of books.
The Last Generation: Youn... has been added to your Cart
More Buying Choices
20 New from $13.45 19 Used from $6.27
Free Two-Day Shipping for College Students with Amazon Student Free%20Two-Day%20Shipping%20for%20College%20Students%20with%20Amazon%20Student

Roots: The Saga of an American Family by Alex Haley
"Roots" by Alex Haley
Now in paperback, check out Roots which electrified the nation when it first published forty years ago. Learn more
$13.45 FREE Shipping on orders with at least $25 of books. Only 5 left in stock (more on the way). Ships from and sold by Amazon.com. Gift-wrap available.
click to open popover

Editorial Reviews


Carmichael should be congratulated for offering fresh insights and interpretations that will engage southern and Civil War historians for some time to come. . . . An important, insightful book. It does what a good work of Civil War history should do: it shines new light on an oft-studied period so that we see it in a new way, thus opening up new avenues of thought and potential research.--H-South

[Carmichael] contributes significantly to ongoing debates about southern identity, secession, and social, cultural, and ideological continuity across the tumultuous years of Civil War and Reconstruction. . . . Carmichael's engaging study reminds us that there were many versions of southern manliness and honor and many roads to secession.--Journal of American History

A significant book, a work of intellectual history that explores the beliefs of an important group of Confederates. The narrative moves well and is thought-provoking. Highly recommended.--The Virginian

[An] engaging and original study. . . . Full of new insights.--Register of Kentucky Historical Society

Peter S. Carmichael provides an important contribution to both subfields [social and military history] and in doing so enhances the reader's appreciation of the Civil War as the nation's seminal event.--American Historical Review

Carmichael's book is an important vehicle for understanding the relationship between proslavery thought in higher education and the Civil War.--Reviews in American History

Carmichael reviews the experience of young Virginians, 'the last generation of white Southerners to grow up with . . . slavery.'--Washington Times

This excellent study will confirm what teenagers have known forever; that parents are just not cool.--The NYMAS Review

A careful examination. . . . By stressing the economically based generational component of the Old Dominion's late antebellum political culture, Carmichael has added a new dimension to an old discussion.--Southern Quarterly

Deeply researched and well-argued. . . . This well-written and sensitively argued study should be required reading for all scholars of Southern history and the Civil War.--Journal of Military History

All readers will appreciate [Carmichael's] creative and often compelling re-reading of letters and diaries to find a common worldview within a generation.--Journal of Southern History

An impressive study that illuminates the lost world of young Virginians. . . . This 'generational study' paints a fascinating social, political, and intellectual portrait of Virginia over the course of several decades. . . . The Last Generation is unquestionably an important study. Carmichael's lucid writing, sharp analysis, and stimulating interpretations make this a welcome contribution to the history of the nineteenth-century South.--Southern Historian

Using a generational approach to study the motivations and actions of the South's most diehard defenders, Carmichael both enlightens and entertains.--North and South

Carmichael's look at Virginia's 'last generation'--men born between 1830 and 1842, who grew up with the institution of slavery and reached political maturity during the intra-party convulsions of the 1850s--offers a . . . complex and multifaceted understanding. . . . His work will stand as a compelling description of the motivations and mentalities of the men who clamored loudest for Virginia's entry into the war, and then labored hardest to pull it out of the wreckage.--Civil War Times

This fascinating book creatively tackles a number of old chestnuts in the historiography of the Civil War era: the late-blooming Southern nationalism in the Upper South, the role of slavery in Southern ideology, and the postwar reunion between the North and the South. Carmichael provides valuable reinterpretations of Southern religion and honor.--Civil War History

Peter Carmichael has written a useful, sometimes penetrating, account of Virginia males who came of age shortly before secession and the Civil War. . . . The Last Generation sheds new light on Virginia politics and society during the era of sectional conflict.--North Carolina Historical Review

A well-researched and intriguing study. . . . An ambitious project.--Georgia Historical Quarterly


The hypothesis that there was a strong generational component to the secessionist movement appears frequently in the historiography, and yet no scholar, until Carmichael, has tried to systematically evaluate it. The most important contribution of this provocative book is the way the author uses the 'last generation' to demonstrate that the credo of Southern rights had varied meanings in the South.--Elizabeth R. Varon, Temple University

This superb book tells a new story of the coming, fighting, and aftermath of the Civil War, revealing generational dimensions we have never seen before. Carmichael's remarkable research, subtle touch, and clear-eyed interpretation are gifts to everyone interested in understanding the war's larger meanings.--Edward L. Ayers, University of Virginia


Product Details

  • Series: Civil War America
  • Paperback: 360 pages
  • Publisher: The University of North Carolina Press; 1 edition (September 1, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0807861855
  • ISBN-13: 978-0807861851
  • Product Dimensions: 5.8 x 0.8 x 8.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,368,132 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Robert Busko VINE VOICE on June 1, 2005
Format: Hardcover
Like most readers of history, the significant figures of the Civil War have taken on almost mythic proportions. Some times they seem almost to be gods stepped down from Mt. Olympus. In The Last Generation, Peter Carmichael manages to shed new light onto the lives, interests, and beliefs of many of the young Virginians that were so caught up in the cause of the day and in the process makes them human once more.

I found The Last Generation to be full of information that is new...at least to me. I've done my share of reading about the major characters involved in the Civil War, on both sides. Yet Carmichael seems to provide the reader with new insights on almost every page.

I also found the tables in the appendix to be full of useful and eye opening facts. Trust me, they're worth the time it takes to study them. Finally, I spent more time than usual studying the notes provided by Carmichael, a compliment of the first order.

For the casual or serious Civil War buff, The Last Generation will be a memorable read.
Comment 13 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
Report abuse
Format: Hardcover
In his book, "The Last Generation," Peter Carmichael explores the psyche, values, goals and visions of the young caucasian men of Virginia who came into adulthood just as our nation descended into the Civil War. Born to privilege in the 1830s and early 1840s, these men were in colleges and schools across Virginia and the nation when the crisis of secession reached its apex in 1860 and 1861. Once the war started, they served as junior officers in the Army of Northern Virginia, leading their peers into combat and fighting alongside them.

The book is a generational study and an examination of Confederate nationalism in the young Virginians. Carmichael first takes us through the 1850s, a time when young Virginians worried about the future of their state and their place in it. They watched as the North increasingly distanced itself from Virginia through industrialization and internal improvements. They feared that Virginia, the home state of four of the first five U.S. presidents, was becoming moribund under the leadership of its elders, "old fogies" who lived on past glories of events such as the American Revolution and who encouraged unthinking opposition to change even at the expense of educational and economic reform.

At the same time, the young Virginians had to find a way to reconcile slavery, the system upon which they depended for their wealth and social standing, with the free labor system of the North. Some of the strongest points in Carmichael's book delineate how these men did just this. Their belief that slavery was sanctioned by the Bible as necessary because God had created races to be inherently unequal, coupled with their belief that Southerners were God's chosen people, sustained many young soldiers throughout the war.
Read more ›
1 Comment 6 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
Report abuse
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Decent collateral reading but not an essential book. I often found myself thinking, "get on with it!"

I would have liked to know more about this sample, probably in appendix. Who was in it? What was their family background? The 1850 and 1860 census would provide useful data about family wealth and position of child in family. How is the sample among colleges balanced?
Comment 2 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
Report abuse
Format: Hardcover
I owned this book for three years, and after only recently picking it up to read it, I realized what I was missing out on during that time. This is a fresh and descriptive analysis of the young Virginia generation before, during, and after the war. As one who has read dozens of books on the Civil War, it was this one more than any other that best explains how and why Virginians formed their fundamental opinions of their native state, the Southern region, and Northern industrialism during the antebellum period. Through their viewpoint that Virginia's reputation and standing in the Union was diminished during the period prior to the war, it becomes clear that the war gave these young Virginians an opportunity to improve the status of their commonwealth while cementing their place among men in their state. Though one often gets the perception through Carmichael's writing that these were overzealous, egotistical young men, their conduct in the war brings to fruition their importance in the New South.

Carmichael's writing is interesting and well-detailed with a wide variety of excellent material from both primary and secondary sources. His inclusion of statistics on the members of the last generation provides ample insight into the professions, religious affiliation, and other important data on the members of the last generation. Even more than "For Cause and Comrades" by James McPherson, this book will expose why a reluctant Virginia joined the Confederacy and explains clearly how the young Virginia generation almost pushed the South to ultimate victory.
Comment 2 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
Report abuse
Format: Hardcover
In this fascinating book, author and historian Professor Peter S. Carmichael takes a generational look a particular group of American men who fought in the Civil War, selecting 121 men who had been born in Virginia between 1830 and 1842. These men were mostly highly educated, from the slave holding class, and formed the junior officer core of the Virginia military units. These men were part of the last generation to grow up in Virginia with slavery, and the story of their journey of life is one little studied, until now.

As a fan of the works of Messrs Strauss and Howe (“Generations” and “The Fourth Turning”), I was intrigued to see another book that looked at American history with an eye to generations. The book is eminently readable, and is quite fascinating. The author does an excellent job of telling the story of the “last generation,” bringing them and their experiences alive. I was interested to watch the “last generation” move through the 1850s fostering a inter-generational conflict, assume capable and pragmatic managerial control of the armies their elders led, and then move into leadership positions after the War.

In relation to the Strauss and Howe generational theory, this book focuses on a part of the Gilded Generation. Overall, I thought that the book complemented it very well, showing that side of the generation that lost the war.

So, let me just say that this is a fascinating look at a generation that lived during a fascinating time in American history, one that will captivate anyone who is interested in generations, the American Civil War, or just plain history. I loved this book and highly recommend it to you.
Comment Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
Report abuse

Set up an Amazon Giveaway

The Last Generation: Young Virginians in Peace, War, and Reunion (Civil War America)
Amazon Giveaway allows you to run promotional giveaways in order to create buzz, reward your audience, and attract new followers and customers. Learn more
This item: The Last Generation: Young Virginians in Peace, War, and Reunion (Civil War America)