40 of 44 people found the following review helpful
on December 20, 2000
I grew up, a Jew in the Northeast. I lived in a small Southern town for four years, working as a librarian. I became fascinated by what I read about Jews serving the Confederate cause. I read whatever I could get on Confederate Sec. of State Judah Benjamin. I wish Mr. Rosen had written this book 15 years ago. It is never too late, though. This book should be in every Civil War collection, Southern Genealogy and University collections, and educated American. Another look at a tragic war that nearly tore this nation apart.
33 of 36 people found the following review helpful
on February 19, 2002
This outstanding work is highly recommended. It shatters previous myths and misunderstandings about Jewish life in the old South and during the War for Southern Independence commonly called the "Civil War" by northern historians. Rosen has exhaustively covered the source material and brought to light information and facts that have been buried with the passage of time. This book will be the foundation starting point for any legitimate historical inquiry into this area for decades to come. The book is well printed, well illustrated, and a pleasure to behold and would make an outstanding addition to any library.
26 of 30 people found the following review helpful
on January 29, 2001
In Mongtomery Alabama, the spot were Jefferson Davis took the oath of Office as President of the Conferatate States of America is marked by a star of david. This is said to reflect the mark that J.P. Benjamian made on the Confederary. Although small in numbers the Jewish poplulation of the Confederacy seems to have fully invoved in the war effor. I guess when your flighting a war of national survival you do not have any time to be anti semantic. This book is just the type of new scholarship that is needed if we are to rescue Conferate history from the P.C. types that see the Union Amry as some sort of very well armed civil right protest movment, and the nuts that march with Nazi and Confederate Battle Flags
17 of 19 people found the following review helpful
on December 12, 2001
Robert Rosen has put together a masterfully written book about a generally unknown element of Jewish and Southern history. He provides and indepth account of the contributions of Jewish soldiers and citizens to the Conferedate war effort, as well as a look into the life of Judah P. Benjamin, a Jewish senetor from Lousianna who went on to become Jefferson Davis' right hand man. Rosen also provides a description of Jewish settlement and life in the Old South, as well as a look into the relationship between Jewish and Christian Southerners. A must read for those who are interested in Jewish or Southern history.
19 of 22 people found the following review helpful
on December 1, 2003
Wonderful! I'm a Southern Jewish man who's very proud of his heritage, and I used this book when I was doing research for a paper I presented in October. First, the word needs to be spread that there was a Jewish Confederacy. (When I presented, my audience seemed amazed about this. And I might add that the paper was well-received.) Second, overall, Southern Jews were not that much different from other Rebels. No, they weren't all rich boys who could buy their way out of fighting. Third, it's too bad that certain Southern Jews have been omitted in U.S. history classes. I can't remember reading about or hearing about Judah Benjamin in high school or in college. This is a fascinating work for both Jews and non-Jews, and it's a beautiful book as well.
17 of 21 people found the following review helpful
on February 15, 2004
First, I commend Robert Rosen for his dedication to this subject and for publishing this work. I am sure that it ought to be as controversial as recent books (and film) showing dedication of Blacks to the Southern Cause for Independence. I recall as a child watching the march on Montgomery, the seat of the first Confederate Capitol, before it was moved to Richmond. And had it remained in Montgomery, what then?
Mr. Rosen, an attorney, is clear with his research. Anyone who might wonder why Jews would fight for the Confederacy, or Blacks for that matter, will find this fascinating. Jews from South Carolina, from Louisiana, many of German or Spanish (Sephardic) heritage, were there. I hope that more books, and personal accounts, will follow, from groups whose support for the rights of the States to determine their destinies will be forthcoming. We must learn from history.
Anyone who would hope to understand what it means to be an American should have this book on the shelf, and read it. To paraphrase Shelby Foote, before this war, the United States could only be conceived of as a plurality, after, a singularity. Yet today, we are no doubt in danger of falling into an abyss of pluralism that threatens any kind of national identity. Yet Irishmen fought one another--at Fredericksburg, and elsewhere--as did Jews, and Blacks, and Hispanics--across stone walls at point-blank range, leaving a legacy of maiming of soul and flesh. We have only to look back 3 score years to the bloodbath of Europe to see we are not yet free.
Jews fought for home and hearth, "Pro Aris et Pro Focis"--a common Latin phrase embroidered on flags North and South. In the American South, many Jews found that was worth fighting for against an invasion from afar. That experience unites them with us, today.
Most highly recommended for scholarship and readability!
11 of 13 people found the following review helpful
on June 30, 2007
....that The Confederacy had Jews. Surprise...A true story: in my exam room, there is always a book on my side table. One day, this was the book; a young girl [I take care of Army Privates] went over and picked it up as if she were touching pork. She informed me that the book was a lie, because there could not possibly have been any Jews in The Confederacy. I pointed to Judah Benjamin's picture among the other Confederate heroes on my wall and told her his story, including the slave owning. She was appalled. She soon knew that the CSA had around 2000 Jews, from Private to Colonel. Then, she asked me the question for which I still have no answer: "How is it that I, a Jew, living in America, don't know that significant a part of my own history?" Sadly, she's a very bright girl, who just didn't know. Much more sadly, BOTH of her parents are history professors. The encounter happened right before Christmas break, and she informed me that she was going to ask her mother about the matter. I gave her several references, and wished her Happy Chanukkah. After the break, she said that her Mom told her that, yes, this is something they knew, but just don't talk about. Look, all of us who deal with history can tell stories of astonishing ignorance. But I've never forgotten that girl; whenever I see ignorance, she reminds me of the obligation that all us who know have to impart [gently] unto those who don't.
Bob Rosen, has, indeed, imparted, and done it superbly. He gives us the story of all the major, and many of the minor, Jews who saluted the Stars and Bars. The two most prominant Jewish Confederates, Judah P. Benjamin, and Phoebe Yates Pember, were civilians, but many wore the gray uniform; Abraham Myers was the Quartermaster General, David DeLeon was the first Surgeon General [Rosen gives the bad with the good; Dr. DeLeon was a drunk, who was soon cashiered]. Major Adolph Proskauer led a charge at Gettysburg, and lived to tell it for many years. Ironically, the two highest ranking Jews killed in the war both fell at Vicksburg, and have monuments near each other. They were Colonels Leon Dawson Marks [Confederate] and Marcus H. Spiegel[Yankee]. Dr. Simon Baruch was a highly respected surgeon during, and after, the war; his son, Bernard, gained fame as a financier. Sgt. Moses Ezekiel was a VMI Cadet who fought at New Market, then was one of the finest sculptors on earth for many years. Many gave much in support; Mrs. Pember's sister, Eugenia Phillips, was a Spy who went to jail twice, and won the hearts of all Southerners by slapping Beast Butler. Rabbis Max Michaelbacher and George Jacobs were central figures in the Richmond religious community. There's even humor here; witness the "damn yankee Jew" asking a child in Norfolk for a piece of matzoah during The Feast of Unleavened Bread.
Interestingly, while the Yankees had around 10,000 Jews in uniform, and the South 2,000, it was the supposedly "racist" South that had Benjamin and Mrs. Pember. Only The Confederacy put Jews in leadership positions. Robert E. Lee and Jeff Davis strongly, and openly, supported the Jewish community, while Grant and Sherman were stark-raving anti-Semites.
This is not just a great book, it's an artistic masterpiece. Great illustrations, well presented. The maps of Richmond, Charleston, and New Orleans even show the modern Interstates as reference points; nice touch. Bob Rosen deserves all our thanks, even those of a goyim like me. Do not fail to read this book.
7 of 9 people found the following review helpful
I've had Jewish friends in Memphis and New Orleans whom I was surprised to learn had Ancestors in the Army of Northern Virgina and the Army of Tennessee. Rosen's book shows that the Civil War truly was a War of Brother against Brother no matter the ties by social status, national origin, or religion.
Rosen has done quite a bit of research and presents his narrative with the recollections, diaries, and letters of the participants and their families and friends. This kind of history by correspondance has always appealed to me more than the memoir type that is carefully thought out later to put the event or individual in the best light.
Rosen presents us with Jews living a normal life in the antebellum South similar to that enjoyed by their White Christian neighbors. The same predjudices and toleration for the "peculiar institution" exist for them as it does for their neighbors but I sense there is more of a toleration amongst this community for the Abolitionists Movement among Antebellum Jews than other groups in the South.
When War comes young men enlist and fight for the same cause as their Christian neighbors and with the same Gallantry. First hand accounts of the struggles and hardships of the War come from the letters soldiers write home to their families.
Rosen presents Jewish Life from the viewpoints of many players from well known Lousiana politician Judah P. Benjamin who held many positions in Jefferson Davis' Cabinet to less well known immigrants from Spain and Germany who started stores in rural Mississippi and Arkansas.
One story that I could not find was that of Sergeant Mordecai Solomon or Solomon Mordecai of Jackson, Mississippi who won the Confederate Medal of Honor at Spotsylvania Court House in 1864 and whose Synagogue was bombed by the KKK 100 years later
The book is a must for Civil War enthusiasts and may be helpful in Geneology research.
7 of 10 people found the following review helpful
on February 11, 2010
Great book that sunders the curtain of political correctness. I was even able to find my great-grandfather and his cousins mentioned here. I knew that one had died in battle, but here I discovered whom and where (@the Battle of the Wilderness.) When viewed with an eye toward the true political realities of THAT day--contrary to the recent "PC police" fabrications--it was clear that these were NOT slave owners, as indeed 96% of Southerners were NOT, but citizens loyal to their country & their neighbors, and that they fought against the tyrannies of the dominant Whig politics of the north. If you do some additional research, you'll find that Grant and other northern generals were raging antisemites, and Jews in the south were treated as equal citizens by many more of their neighbors in Dixie than those Jews living in the north. Just read Grant's "General Order No. 11 of 1862" for the most virulently disgusting, Jew-hating statute until the Nazi Nuremberg Laws 70 years later. I'm no bigot, but I will always love Dixie and wear the Stars and Bars with great pride as an American Jew with deep roots in Virginia (since the 1830s.) Heritage, NOT hatred.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on April 5, 2012
This is a book about Jewish life in the South during the War of Secession. It tells -- matter of factly -- where the Jews lived, how they lived, and what they did in order to live. It has lots of photographs of places, people, young men and women who worked hard to support the Confederacy; those who went to war, some who came back and some who didn't; Older people who kept the 'home fires' burning. It is a very long 'read' and -- yes -- it is a book of history... If you're looking for a Yiddish version of "Gone With The Wind," this aint it!