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Sunset of privilege.
on September 18, 2014
This is a high profile historic diary brought into popular culture by excerpts included on Ken Burns’ documentary, The Civil War.
The Penguin edition introduced by Catherine Clinton would have benefited enormously if (1) the dozens of historical names were, in addition to foot-noted when they appeared, could have also been listed in alphabetical order in an appendix. And , (2)there must be an index!
The diary was edited years later, several times, and we will never know the extent of the post-insertions and deletions, save there were quite a few of them. These were done by Mary Chestnut herself, and a friend who inherited the unpublished mss.
For reasons I cannot explain, I think the entries smack of “being there, doing that” with a minimum of changes later. So, I view it as virtually all by Mary Chestnut at the time (1861-1865).
Mary Chestnut was a woman of her time and place, and in the four years of entries we see the death of her class and privilege and the abomination of slavery. .