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Remembering The Battle of the Crater: War as Murder (New Directions in Southern History) Hardcover – June 19, 2012


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Product Details

  • Series: New Directions in Southern History
  • Hardcover: 200 pages
  • Publisher: The University Press of Kentucky; First Edition edition (June 19, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0813136105
  • ISBN-13: 978-0813136103
  • Product Dimensions: 9.1 x 6.3 x 0.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,326,599 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

""Levin offers something new and valuable in this book. His approach of unpacking the complex telling and forgetting of the events surrounding one battle allows him a focus and specificity that even many very good treatments of historical memory often lack. Remembering the Battle of the Crater stands to make a real and lasting contribution to the field of Civil War memory studies."--Anne Marshall, author of Creating a Confederate Kentucky: The Lost Cause and Civil War Memory in a Border State" --



""[Remembering The Battle of the Crater] centers on the well documented 'massacre' of the United States Colored Troops by Confederate soldiers during and after the battle, carrying the story on through the eras of the Lost Cause, Virginia's Reconstruction and Readjuster Movement. Levin's work offers a refreshing and inquisitive look at the battle and how the role of the USCT's is now coming into light in subsequent preservation and interpretation efforts."-- Chris Calkins, Former Chief of Interpretation/Historian (Ret.), Petersburg National Battlefield" --



""This is an important study of memory, race, and the Battle of the Crater. Levin traces the troubled story of how the Mine Attack at Petersburg was remembered by survivors and contemporary generations alike, and he makes clear and frank judgments about the tortured ways in which Americans have dealt with, or avoided, key racial aspects of the battle. Levin offers significant and convincing insights as he sheds light on our understanding of historical memory."--Earl J. Hess, author of Into the Crater -- The Mine Attack at Petersburg" --



""In this stunning and well-researched book, Kevin Levin catches the new waves of the study of memory, black soldiers, and the darker underside of the Civil War as well as anyone has. That horrible day at the Crater in Petersburg, its brutal racial facts and legacies, all tangled in the weeds of Confederate Lost Cause lore, have never been exposed like this. Levin is both superb scholar and public historian, showing us a piece of the real war that does now get into the books, as well as into site interpretation."--David W. Blight, author of American Oracle: The Civil War in the Civil Rights Era" --

About the Author

Kevin M. Levin's published writings have appeared in numerous publications, including The Atlantic, New York Times, The History Teacher, Virginia Magazine of History and Biography, Southern Historian, and Virginia at War, 1865. He is also the writer of a well-known blog, entitled Civil War Memory (cwmemory.com/). He lives in Boston, Massachusetts.

More About the Author

Kevin Levin is a historian and educator currently living in Boston. From 2000 to 2011 he taught American history at the St. Anne's - Belfield School in Charlottesville, Virginia. His published work in the area of Civil War history and historical memory can be found in popular magazines, newspapers, and scholarly journals. He is currently researching the history of the 55th Massachusetts Volunteer Infantry.

Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

12 of 16 people found the following review helpful By James W. Durney TOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on July 30, 2012
Format: Hardcover
Unlike Fort Pillow, what occurred at the Crater is not open to debate. Whites on both sides murdered members of the United States Colored Troops (USCT).
The battle is an example of what commanders should not do if they want to succeed.
The entire operation from start to finish lacked support from army HQ, plan changes for political considerations hurt the operation but everyone refused to abandon it.
The plan took on a life of its' own that no senior officer had the will or courage to end.
Soldiers at the front suffered. Command squandered a possibly good plan but fed men into a battle with little chance of success.
The Crater is the Army of Northern Virginia's first experience with the USCT and they reacted badly.
Worse, white men in the Army of Potomac murdered members of the USCT in hope of protecting themselves.

The Crater is a popular subject with the publication of several books and a novel in the last few months.
This unique book is not another battle history but tells the story of the Crater's history. This is a look at how and what we chose to remember of an incident.
Additionally, the book looks at the changes time causes in how and what we chose to remember.
This is not a history of the battle but a history of the history of the battle.

The book opens with a description of the battle that centering on the attack by Mahone's Brigade breaking the Union's resistance.
The author insures the reader knows the important parts of the battle, without bogging down in details.
With this as our point of departure, we follow two major story lines.

The first deals with the preservation or lack of preservation from the end of the war to our times. Petersburg wants normal.
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3 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Bill on May 3, 2013
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I just loved this book. Couldn't put it down. Extremely well written, and persuasively argued. I have led groups of college students on tours of the Petersburg Battlefield six times over the last decade, but this book will make my next visit to the battlefield a few weeks from now so much richer. Anyone interested in the memory of the Civil War will find this an immensely rewarding read.
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2 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Patrick Young on September 12, 2013
Format: Hardcover
I purchased this volume with some trepidation. Its author, Kevin Levin, is not just a historian and an educator, he is also arguably the most popular Civil War blogger on the net. I began reading him several times a week beginning back in 2010 when I was first contemplating my own Civil War project. My worry was that since I had read nearly everything Mr. Levin had written over the last two-and-a-half years on his Civil War Memory web site, would the book be just a reduction of that writing to paper?

While what I read on Levin's blog has echoes in the book, in fact it is an altogether different product of Levin's research and ruminations from the dozens of blog entries that preceded its publication.

The book itself consists of three different sections. The first describes the brutal Battle of the Crater outside of the Virginia city of Petersburg in 1864. If you've read the novel Cold Mountain or seen the movie of the same name, that fictional work begins with explosions under the Confederate lines that created the Crater. The devastation temporarily disorganized the Confederate defenders, Union troops poured into the smoking hole, the Confederates counterattacked and overran the Northerners, massacring black Union troops.
The Crater

The Crater

The book looks at how Southern whites interpreted the battle at the time. Confederate soldiers wrote home that black troops had been deployed by the thousands to serve as a warning to home folks that an army of black avengers was descending on the South and that all whites had to mobilize to defend their society against this revolutionary force.
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13 of 48 people found the following review helpful By silver dollar on May 7, 2013
Format: Hardcover
About the author: "Kevin Levin is a historian and educator currently living in Boston. From 2000 to 2011 he taught American history at the St. Anne's - Belfield School in Charlottesville, Virginia. His published work in the area of Civil War history and historical memory can be found in popular magazines, newspapers, and scholarly journals. He is currently researching the history of the 55th Massachusetts Volunteer Infantry."

This is a review of Kevin Levin's book, "The Crater," and Levin's blog that supports the book. This review is my opinion only. Feel free to check out Levin's blog, which gives an eye opening nuance into Levin's thinking and agenda. A window into the author's life and musings outside his book is helpful in understanding the author's intent and agenda in writing a book, and thus reflects directly upon the accuracy of the book. Thus this review includes a review of Levin's blog that supports his book. Levin's book should be considered a poorly written fictional account of the Battle of the Crater.

The Battle of the Crater was a battle of the American Civil War, part of the Siege of Petersburg. It took place on July 30, 1864, between the Confederate Army of Northern Virginia, commanded by General Robert E. Lee and the Union Army of the Potomac, commanded by Major General George G. Meade (under the direct supervision of the general-in-chief, Lt. Gen. Ulysses S. Grant).

After weeks of preparation, on July 30 the Federals exploded a mine in Major Gen. Ambrose E. Burnsides' IX Corps sector, blowing a gap in the Confederate defenses of Petersburg, Virginia. From this propitious beginning, everything deteriorated rapidly for the Union attackers. Unit after unit charged into and around the crater, where soldiers milled in confusion.
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