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The Mosby Myth: A Confederate Hero in Life and Legend (The American Crisis Series: Books on the Civil War Era) [Paperback]

Paul Ashdown , Edward Caudill

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Book Description

January 1, 2002 084202929X 978-0842029292
Confederate Colonel John Singleton Mosby (1833-1916) was only one of a number of heroes to emerge during the Civil War, yet he holds a singular place in the American imagination. He is the irrepressible rebel with a cause, the horseman who emerges from the forest to protect the embattled farmer and his household and bring retribution to the invader. Mosby was the fabled 'Gray Ghost' of the Confederacy, a mythic cavalry officer who operated with virtual impunity behind Union lines near Washington, D.C.

Within his lifetime, and continuing to the present, Mosby has been appropriated as a cultural symbol. Mosby has regularly appeared in various genres of popular culture throughout the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, becoming a creation of novelists, poets, Hollywood screenwriters, and biographers. But why has Mosby become a figure of our collective imagination while other heroes of the conflict have not? The Mosby Myth: A Confederate Hero in Life and Legend by Paul Ashdown and Edward Caudill is the first book devoted to explaining Mosby's place in American culture, myth, and legend.

Through the story of John Mosby, the authors examine how the Civil War becomes memory, history, and myth through experience, art, and mass communication. The Mosby Myth provides not just a biography of John Mosby's life, but a study of his legacy. Ashdown and Caudill present depictions of Mosby in fiction, cinema, and television, and offer a revealing analysis that explains much about American culture and the way it has been affected by the lingering impact of the Civil War.

Well-written and informative, this book is sure to provoke new thought about the effect of the memory of Mosby-and the memory of the Civil War-on American society and culture.

The Mosby Myth is an excellent resource for courses on the Civil War.

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The Mosby Myth: A Confederate Hero in Life and Legend (The American Crisis Series: Books on the Civil War Era) + The Memory of the Civil War in American Culture (Civil War America)
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Editorial Reviews


Paul Ashdown and Ed Caudill provide an outstanding, thoroughly researched, and entertaining analysis of the Mosby legend in American popular culture. (James A. Ramage)

Here is a first-rate study of how we as a people come to know what we think we know about our historical past. (James Ogden III)

Paul Ashdown and Ed Caudill do a fine job of separating the myth from reality and a splendid job of explaining the creation of the legend and how it fits in the American story, our national folklore, our image of ourselves. (David B. Sachsman)

Ashdown and Caudill's work is thoroughly researched, each chapter concluding with a series of detailed notes. The book makes a fine addition to the library of any Civil War scholar or amateur buff. (Teaching History)

The Mosby Myth contributes to the scholarship of the realtionship between history and memory. What emerges from the pages is a story of the development of the Mosby Myth and and explanation fo why it endures, thus showing in a large context how Americans form and use their memories of the Civil War. (Sharon A. Roger Hepburm Military History Of The West)

In a time when more and more fields of Civil War study have been rendered fallow by repetitive use, Ashdown and Caudill plow fresh, fertile soil by focusing on the many ways a hero and his public collaborate to create a legend. While they offer a brief life of Mosby in a vigorous style, they go on to explain lucidly how and why the ‘Gray Ghost’ has captured the imagination of Americans for almost 150 years. (David Madden)

About the Author

Paul Ashdown and Edward Caudill are professors of journalism at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville.

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