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Reluctant Rebels: The Confederates Who Joined the Army after 1861 (Civil War America) Hardcover – May 14, 2010

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Editorial Reviews

Review

Noe makes an important contribution to our understanding of Civil War soldiers in his well-written and entertaining work.--The Alabama Review



Reluctant Rebels is a well-researched, highly readable book . . . . Anyone interested in Civil War history or the life of the Confederate soldier should definitely take a look at this offering.--The Historian



An enjoyable and informative read. Noe provides outstanding historiographical commentary. . . . Also weaves in some acute insights. . . . An excellent book that both expands the debate over wartime motivation and adds further nuance to the complexity of the Confederate mindset.--American Historical Review



Noe admirably stays impartial and transparent in his research throughout. He has produced a significant study worthy of debate in the scholarship on Civil War motivations." --The Journal of American History



Noe has provided the Civil War enthusiast with a fascinating presentation of excellent research. His study fills a gap in our understanding of all the men who fought for the Confederacy.--New York Journal of Books



Noe's command of the secondary literature is impeccable and his archival research nothing less than heroic. . . . A highly readable, judiciously argued book that fills a crucial gap in the literature on Civil War soldiers. It will be of interest to Civil War scholars and buffs alike.--Journal of East Tennessee History



A must read. . . . Ground breaking . . . the best book out this year.--Authentic Campaigner



While broad historical generalizations remain faceless, Noe personalizes the accounts….[His] sampling serves to create a situation in which the reader can more easily empathize with the motivations and actions of the men in question….The structure of his study and the conscientious approach to his research offer an excellent model for undergraduate and graduate students as well as for independent researchers.--Virginia Libraries



The writing is excellent, the research is complete and the analysis on target. . . . If you want a challenging, thought-provoking book, you will be hard pressed to find a better candidate.--TOCWOC-A Civil War Blog



Ken Noe has crafted a thought-provoking, well-researched, poignant window into a neglected topic….Noe's book is important and begs to be read….Civil War historians and educated lay readers will grapple with this book and its underlying research for years to come." --Southern Historian



With insight and skill, Noe hands down some provocative judgments.--Civil War Book Review



Readers will find this an interesting [study] on a previously unaddressed element of Civil War history.--The Post and Courier



An absorbing study. . . . Thought provoking. . . . This excellent book provides a more complete portrait of Johnny Reb. . . Highly recommended.--Choice



Compelling. . . . This superb study effectively engages previous scholarship and fills a neat niche in the literature.--America's Civil War



[Noe's] book is one to be studied and admired.--Journal of Southern History



Scholars and the large audience of Civil War readers will find interesting insights in [this] book.--H-Net Reviews



This fine study . . . answers questions about motivation and enlistment that have hovered over the field for generations. . . . The strengths of Noe's book lie in his clear prose, deep research, and persuasive analysis.--Virginia Magazine of History and Biography



Noe's deft analysis of primary sources…sheds light on a previously under-analyzed portion of the Confederate army….Reluctant Rebels will help readers better understand community, family, gender, and the complexity of Southern society during the Civil War.--The North Carolina Historical Review



Reluctant Rebels adds nuance and range in its answer to the well-worn question of why soldiers fought. It reminds readers of the varied motivations and experiences of Johnny Reb.--Arkansas Historical Quarterly



A valuable monograph, which will stand with books by James McPherson and Bell Wiley among standards on Confederate soldiers. . . . Noe presents insights not only into these late comers, but also into those who came early and remained throughout the war. . . . The publications of books like this one demonstrates the vitality of such study and the potential for public learning. . . . We need more books like this one to document facts.--Review of Politics



Noe provides his insights in a fair-minded manner. . . . We need more books like this one to document facts.--The Review of Politics



Those attracted to Civil War history and those interested in the interrelationships between culture and war in varied historical contexts should find this work of interest.--The Courier



A valuable monograph, which will stand with books by James McPherson and Bell Wiley among standard studies on Confederate soldiers….We need more books like this one to document facts.--The Review of Politics



Absorbing and thought-provoking. . . . Such impressive scholarly analysis and writing, coupled with quality design and materials, make this a captivating volume that all students of the Civil War in general and the Confederacy in particular will want to read.--Civil War News

Review

This valuable study revises our opinion of those Confederate recruits who did not rush to the colors immediately but fought with determination when they ultimately joined the ranks. Noe employs their letters to give these men very human faces in a nuanced treatment of motivation and endurance. His work rewards not only readers fascinated by the Civil War, but also those who examine the interrelationships between culture and war in varied historical contexts.--John A. Lynn II, author of Battle: A History of Combat and Culture



In this first-rate book, Noe carves out new terrain in a crowded field by identifying a significant new cohort of men to analyze: those who enlisted after the first wave of volunteering. Creating a new landmark in the historiography of the motivations of soldiers, Reluctant Rebels is an impressive work that captures the complex nature of the human condition.--William A. Blair, author of Cities of the Dead: Contesting the Memory of the Civil War in the South, 1865-1914

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Product Details

  • Series: Civil War America
  • Hardcover: 336 pages
  • Publisher: The University of North Carolina Press; Book Club Edition edition (May 14, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0807833770
  • ISBN-13: 978-0807833773
  • Product Dimensions: 9.5 x 6.6 x 1.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.6 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: #1,307,809 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
We are enamored with first, in Civil War histories that means men who rush to enlist in 1861. Much of the social history of the war is from their viewpoint. Much of the battle history concentrates on these men and their units. Kenneth W. Noe does not slight these men but looks to the class of 1862 and how they differ from the initial enlistees. Using a sample of 320 men that by enlistment, draft or service as a substitute enter the Confederate army after the initial rush. He details their attitudes, feeling and experiences. While serving as our guide and keeping the narration moving, the author allows these men to "speak" for themselves whenever possible. This book is a thoughtful detailed statistical analysis of these men and by extension the thousands of similar men in CSA armies. This is not a glory of war advance the flag history. This is a personal detailed look at what is often an unpleasant and unwanted experience. It is a view of war we do not often see, where quite determination, comradeship and a sense of duty sustain men. This is the closest I have come to feeling what men in the Confederate ranks felt. The writing is excellent, the research is complete and the analysis on target.
The book contains three main sections: "When Our Rights Were Threatened", "Fighting for Property We Gained by Honest Toil" and "We are a Band of Brothers and Native to the Soil". Each section contains essays that illustrate the topic. This organization allows concentration on a specific topic in the area. The author has arraigned these essays and topics to build our understanding of the men and the differences from the early enlistees. Each essay is about twenty pages, all are thought provoking.
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Format: Hardcover
The study of Civil War soldiers has come a long way since the publication of Bell I. Wiley's classic 1943 work The Life of Johnny Reb: The Common Soldier of the Confederacy. In the intervening decades an impressive array of historians built on Wiley's once-innovative approach of focusing on ordinary combatants. The last 23 years in particular have seen a large body of scholarship exploring the motivations that drove Americans to take up arms. Most of these works take issue with Wiley's assumption that soldiers were not motivated by ideology and assert that soldiers' writings indicate a widespread awareness of, and identification with, their national causes. For instance, it is no longer possible to convincingly argue that ordinary Confederates had little interest in protecting slavery, for historians have demonstrated that white Southerners had a personal stake in the white supremacy and bondage system upon which their society was built. Now Kenneth W. Noe has stepped into this vibrant field of scholarship with a book examining "later enlisters"--those Rebel soldiers who joined the war effort after the initial burst of volunteering.

Noe's introduction, titled "What They Did Not Fight For," places his work within Civil War soldier historiography and provides as good a summary of the topic as one can find. Yet in every case, Noe writes, historians have concentrated on the writings of especially patriotic volunteers, leading to "a voluminous literature on `Civil War soldiers' that is in actuality only a detailed study of the most motivated men who enlisted in the first year or so of the war ... Others are ignored or else shunted aside" (7). He particularly takes issue with James M. McPherson's assertion that "the prototypical unwilling soldier ...
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Here's about the best book you'll find on those southerners that simply did not wish to fight during the Civil War; any war- just not seeing the need for it. You know, not all men wish to go off to war. Some for religious grounds, others for family caretaker reasons, others due to a cowardly streak in them (nothing inherently wrong with that), and of course, just not wanting to fight for a cause they were totally sold into. No state suffered more than NC during the CW, giving up more men's lives than any other state in the country. However, they had in western NC and on the coast many thousands that weren't die-hard Confederates. Some became good soldiers after being drafted, whereas others ran the first chance they got. This is essential reading if you wish to understand the mental anguish men went through when wrestling with the war and their responsibilities towards family.
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Format: Kindle Edition
The is an interesting book that looks at those rebels who were constripted or volunteered for the Confederate Army after the initial enthusiam for war had subsided. The author analyses their letters within the framework of the times, comparing their attitudes with more thoroughly researched letters by early joiners.

I have only one, minor objection: The survey sample is very small (not due to any lack of research on the apart of the author) and must be considered in that light. The author expresses his observations in percentages, sometimes to a tenth of a percentage point. As a technically trained person, I find this attempt attribute precision to the imprecise to be annoying. But that is just me.

I recommend this book to anyone who wishes to delve more deeply into the motivations of a forgotten segment of Confederate soldiery.
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