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Sing Not War: The Lives of Union and Confederate Veterans in Gilded Age America (Civil War America) Hardcover – June 1, 2011

4.5 out of 5 stars 2 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews


A worthy addition to the growing body of scholarship on Civil War veterans. For readers new to the topic, it represents a well-written introduction to the world of the men that served in and survived the Civil War. For scholars knowledgeable on this topic, Marten's study pulls together many familiar threads and adds some new ones, thoughtfully weaving both.--Civil War Book Review

Marten's own engaging and pithy prose makes this work highly readable. . . . [This book] should appeal to a wide readership.--Alabama Review

A rich narrative. . . . Marten's well-researched study draws together a deep analysis of competing themes.--West Virginia History

Adds much to a growing literature on the Civil War soldier as veteran.--Journal of Illinois History

A strong contribution in exploring the mental impact of the war on veterans.--Arkansas Historical Quarterly

Marten's book is powerful in its presentation and is a must read for those historians who want to proceed further into the postwar era of the conflict.--The Journal of the North Carolina Association of Historians

A remarkable book with significance far beyond the post-Civil War era.--Kansas History

Engaging, well written, and exhaustive. . . . A timely and relevant account of the consequences of war on soldiers and civilians alike.--Southwestern Historical Quarterly

[An] insightful work. . . . Highly recommended. All levels/libraries.--Choice

[Marten's] scholarship is wide ranging, and his prose is excellent . . . . For anyone interested in the postwar lives of Civil War soldiers, Sing Not War is highly recommended.--The Annals of Iowa

This volume is profoundly moving.--The Historian

Sing Not War is a first-rate scholarly model of historical research and elegant writing that is sure to reshape studies of veteran culture, social welfare, Civil War memory, and the Gilded Age.--Journal of the Civil War Era

A first rate study. . . . Well-written with well-placed illustrations and photographs, this will become a definitive work on the subject.--American Nineteenth Century History

A splendid synthesis in the emerging field of postwar studies.--Journal of Social History

Deeply researched and vividly narrated, Marten's book counters the romanticized vision of the lives of Civil War veterans, bringing forth new information about how white veterans were treated and how they lived out their lives.--McCormick Messenger

Elegantly written . . . . Sing Not War has given admirable shape and definition to an anemic subfield of Civil War history.--Civil War Monitor


No other book combines the cultural and social history of Civil War veterans, North and South, like Marten's Sing Not War. Beautifully written and deeply researched, this book captures a fresh perspective of veterans' lives, revealing their personal and distinctive experiences as they returned home after the war. A vivid, compelling, and original study that provides surprising new information about 'Johnny Reb' and 'Billy Yank.'--Joan Waugh, author of U. S. Grant: American Hero, American Myth

Civil War soldiers returned home to a world that was transformed by their efforts. Many bore the physical marks of their service; many more carried hidden emotional scars. In this deeply researched and wonderfully written volume, James Marten presents the veterans' story in all its complexity. Marten mines novels, memoirs, newspapers, institutional records, and the private writings of scores of anonymous veterans to uncover how they navigated their postwar lives. The result is not only a powerful history of Civil War veterans, but also an important analysis of the forces that shaped Gilded Age America.--J. Matthew Gallman, author of Northerners at War: Reflections on the Civil War Home Front


Product Details

  • Series: Civil War America
  • Hardcover: 352 pages
  • Publisher: The University of North Carolina Press; 1st New edition edition (June 1, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0807834769
  • ISBN-13: 978-0807834763
  • Product Dimensions: 9.5 x 6.4 x 1.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #501,514 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Top Customer Reviews

By James W. Durney TOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on June 2, 2011
Format: Hardcover
American mythology states that veterans of "good wars" reenter society with almost no problems. These veterans ennobled by their service and loved by a grateful nation live out their lives as a national treasure. The American Civil War is one of America's "good wars" and the veterans enjoyed the benefits of such.
History is full of soldiers but silent on veterans. Very very few books look at their experiences after the war, how active service affected them and societies reaction to them. This book looks at veterans of the Civil War, how they readjusted, how society saw them and how they saw themselves. The majority of the book is devoted to Union Veterans. They are the ones that have "saved" their country and a government that is the beneficiary of their service. This government has the ability to compensate and care for them.
For about 70 years, the care and compensation of Union veterans is the major item in the Federal budget. Becoming a major expense creates political and social problems. Much of the book is devoted to these problems and their impact on society. In effect, Union veterans became the beneficiary of America's first old age pension system. Society's gratitude for "saving the country" became uncertain as expenses increase. This is not new history but the author presents multiple views resulting in a fresh approach.
During Reconstruction, disable Confederate veterans depend on local charity to survive. As the South rebuilds, the states provide small pensions and homes for their needy veterans. While never as generous as the Union system, these were welcome supplements. The Southern veteran occupies a unique position as the embodiment of "The Lost Cause", a living monument.
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treatment of our veterans after they returned home at the conclusion of the Civil War. There are many parallels to what is going on today with our returning veterans.
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