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Near Andersonville: Winslow Homer's Civil War (The Nathan I. Huggins Lectures) Hardcover – December 15, 2010


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Product Details

  • Series: The Nathan I. Huggins Lectures (Book 14)
  • Hardcover: 152 pages
  • Publisher: Harvard University Press; First Edition, First Printing edition (November 15, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0674053206
  • ISBN-13: 978-0674053205
  • Product Dimensions: 8.7 x 5.6 x 0.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 11.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #692,403 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

What a wonderful book Peter Wood has written. He has taken one of Winslow Homer's most rarely studied paintings and, literally and metaphorically, given it back its story. In the process Near Andersonville becomes both a window opening onto the past and a mirror reflecting our own time. (Marc Simpson, Associate Director, Graduate Program in the History of Art, Williams College)

An enormously creative and insightful new perspective on one of the most important and tragic episodes in American history. Wood's sensitive and intelligent reading of Homer's works shows that there are indeed many ways to illuminate the past. (Annette Gordon-Reed, author of The Hemingses of Monticello)

Wood has unraveled the deep and subtle meanings expressed in Near Andersonville. The ambiguities of slavery and freedom, of the past and future framed by war, are brilliantly analyzed in this powerful and compelling book. (James M. McPherson, author of Battle Cry of Freedom)

A magnificently focused meditation that arrives at a completely fresh perspective on the painting and its precise Civil War background. Readers will see Homer's Near Andersonville anew after engaging with Peter Wood's literally eye-opening work. (Werner Sollors, Harvard University)

Wood's detective work and his interpretive conclusions persuade us that Homer understood and was affected by the moral ramifications of the Civil War and that he felt deep empathy toward the African Americans caught up in the conflict. (Patricia Hills, Boston University)

Peter Wood is one of the most curious, original, and rewarding historians of our time and in Near Andersonville all his talents are on full display. Part detective story, part history, and part art criticism, this book is a masterpiece. (John Stauffer, author of Black Hearts of Men)

In his engrossing book by the same name, Wood argues that [Homer's] Near Andersonville "explores the question" of "What happens...if any part of the Civil War drama is viewed explicitly from the vantage point of the enslaved." Wood offers an illuminating, if at times speculative, reading of the image...His careful reconstruction of the painting's provenance, and his account of the discovery of the painting's title, are every bit as rewarding as his careful analysis of the visual symbolism of the painting itself. (Lauren Winner Books & Culture 2010-12-09)

In Near Andersonville, Wood tells the captivating story of an abandoned painting with the meticulousness of a historian and the panache of a novelist. More than just an enigmatic painting, Near Andersonville is a testament to the passions of white abolitionists, and the halting confusion of the freed slaves they cared for. This short book is a quick, learned, and touching read. (Leah Triplett Art New England 2011-03-01)

[A] jewel of a book...This study began as a series of Nathan Huggins Lectures at Harvard, and it reads just like a really good lecture: engaging, informative, easy to listen to, and fully thought provoking. Wood, no stranger to Homer, having coauthored a study of the painter's images of African Americans in 1988, accomplishes the deceptively difficult task of making a subject about which he knows a great deal entirely accessible to anyone who wants to pick up this book. (Steven Conn New England Quarterly 2011-09-01)

About the Author

Peter H. Wood is Professor Emeritus of History at Duke University.

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13 of 13 people found the following review helpful By G I Teach on November 27, 2010
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Near Andersonville is a quick read at less than 90 pages; it is well written so is an engaging read. This is an analysis of a painting by Winslow Homer. The first part discusses how the painting ended up in with a New Jersey family and this intriguing "detective" story raises issues about what is Art, how important is it to establish who the artist is, etc. In addition, since the painting was re-discovered in the 1960's, he reviews the social situation of the time and why 1960's Art Historians would not be inclined to analyze a painting that so directly addresses race relations. Wood also discusses how the painting, shortly after it was finished, ended up in the hands of a independent, single woman who traveled south during the Civil War to join a group providing education to freed slaves. This extensive section also discusses the abolitionist debates in Boston that were occurring when Homer was growing up. It also discussing Andersonville, a notorious Civil War POW camp and this made me think of some the POW camps in the news this last decade. The final chapter actually analyzes the painting, including some key insights into the symbolism and its relevance to an 1866 audience. This has some key information about why slaves had ambiguous attitudes toward the Civil War and also the conflict in the North about exactly what the war was about. The final short section deals with how modern viewers might deal with the painting and this last section is a powerful endorsement of empathizing with those on the fringes of society, which, in this picture, included blacks and women. I learned a lot of history from this book, a lot about how social context influences art, about how to really examine a picture, and it left me with a lot to think about in terms of race, gender, and power in society.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Penny on February 22, 2013
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
A very thoughtful and thought provoking book by a top notch scholar. Very readable for the non expert. Plus Homer's paintings are fabulous.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Grady Harp HALL OF FAMETOP 100 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on March 10, 2011
Format: Hardcover
Winslow Homer (1836 - 1910) has always been considered an artist icon. Few people would ever deny that his many paintings, especially those of the sea and of the rural landscapes or idyllic scenes of farm life, children playing, and young adults courting. Though he began his career as an illustrator he soon turned to 'honest painting' and his life was significantly influenced by the Civil War. And it is this subject that the author of this brief lecture by Peter H. Wood taken from his series of lectures at Harvard on Winslow Homer and the Civil War. It is an interesting if somewhat skewed view of Homer and his relationship to the African American aspects of the Civil War. The painting used to back up Woods these is the very dark 'Near Andersonville', 1865-1866. As the author states 'If any one image epitomizes Homer's Civil War evolution and his increasing willingness to place substantial black figures at the center of his work, it is the little-known painting of a slave woman that was discovered in a New Jersey attic in the early 1960s, nearly a century after its completion.'

The writing about Homer is rich in historical reportage and for the Homer enthusiasts it will likely by a frequent reference. While the book is interesting in what it adds to the written history of Winslow Homer, it is a very slight statement, adding little to the complete biographies already before us from other writers. Grady Harp, March 11
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By M. Snyder on April 9, 2014
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
A very quick read, this book was well researched and well written. Wood keeps his singular focus and helps the reader understand this work of art, the artist, and the time in which it was created. The only drawback is that Wood makes several conclusions based on inconclusive evidence. It doesn't take too much away from the book because Wood's argument is still convincing.
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Near Andersonville: Winslow Homer's Civil War  (The Nathan I. Huggins Lectures)
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