Customer Review

186 of 195 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great storyteller, compelling subject, wonderful book, May 27, 2004
This review is from: Confederates in the Attic: Dispatches from the Unfinished Civil War (Paperback)
Although I don't know more than the average person about the Civil War, I've always had a sneaking suspicion that it is still with us somehow. Tony Horwitz's "Confederates in the Attic" confirmed that suspicion and in a most amusing, touching, and balanced way.
A War reenactor friend recommended I read the book. We were talking about the modern-day states rights concerns and he said that the debate had its origins at Fort Sumter. So, I picked up the book thinking it would simply be a survey of what I now know is called neo-Confederate thought. But I was more than a little bit thrilled to find that it was not just a sociological study, but also a travelogue-probably my favorite kind of book.
After returning to the States from an extended time abroad, Horwitz's childhood interest in the Civil War-and especially Rebels-was rekindled after a band of hardcore reenactors showed up in his yard on their way to a battlefield. Soon he began to tour the South visiting relevant War sites and interviewing the Confederate descendants that kept that cause's heritage alive. Horwitz's has an amazing gift for storytelling and it shines through in this book. He has an uncanny ability to come across mundanely interesting characters in his travels and to write their stories with an original verve.
The book is also balanced. Although he is a Yankee, Horwitz's affinity for the Rebels is evident. But he checks that affinity with a good dose of history and reality. He conveys the notion that the South's resentment of the North is not wholly unjustified, but actually often well placed. At the same time, though, he illustrates the willful naivete that makes Gods of Confederate generals and that forgets the Old South's uglier sides. Horwitz manages to do all this while highlighting not just the tragic, but also the fun and curious stories of the Civil War and its remnants today.
Every American should strive to learn a bit more about the War, and this is a great place to start. It's a fun, touching read that demonstrates why that chapter in our history is still important-and indeed still with us-today.
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Showing 1-5 of 5 posts in this discussion
Initial post: Apr 4, 2012 12:47:50 PM PDT
JA says:
merci!!
very helpful.....and inspiring!.

jim of wayyyyyyty downeast (machias, maine), and
a usaf brat from shaw usaf base, sumter, south carolina!

merci!~!

Posted on Jan 22, 2013 12:02:11 PM PST
Lorelai says:
Hello, Jerry:

Thanks very much for an excellent review. You've sold me; I want to read this book now. Well done, sir!

Posted on Feb 22, 2015 3:14:32 PM PST
John D says:
You've written an excellent review. You're spot-on with every point.
Only one thing to add: He's also a good read on a fundamental level--style. Horwitz completely avoids the prose-style curse of former news writers--Instead, he writes strong, engaging prose, and uses a full vocabulary.

I believe that Horwitz has written a book that even a "War Between the States" diehard will enjoy. I just can't find one who is willing to read it. They seem to be kinda stuck on generals and battles. For the War buffs, I recommend "Battle Cry of Freedom," by James McPherson.

Posted on Mar 11, 2015 7:15:00 AM PDT
JNagarya says:
The "States' rights" issue began with the "Declaration of Independence" --

John Adams, of Liberal Massachusetts-Bay, pushed the Continental Congress to declare independence from Britain.

The Conservatives opposed independence -- calling Adams "traitor," and scoffing condescendingly about the "Boston Radicals".

Until the got what they wanted in exchange for their support of the "Declaration of Independence":

Preservation of slavery.

It continued during the ratification debates over the Constitution. The Federalists were for the Constitution; the anti-Federalists were opposed -- again, the issue being "states' rights" -- the preservation of slavery.

What the states' rights morons don't realize is that the anti-Federalists lost the argument -- the Constitution was ratified, despite their opposition. That reduced their "argument," which as result of losing has no legal weight, to historical footnote.

The "states' rights" morons attempt to get around that by asserting that the Bill of Rights was a compromise intended to accommodated the anti-Federalists' position. The problem with that claim is that the Bill of Rights was composed and submitted to Congress by a Federalist.

Those who call the Civil War a "war between the states" or "the war of Northern aggression" can only assert such absurdities by pretending there was no Federal gov't. Or, at least, that Lincoln and the Federal gov't stayed out of it.

One can justly conclude that Civil War holdouts are deliberately and selectively ignorant of those portions of reality which totally refute their ahistorical and law-illiterate nonsense.

In reply to an earlier post on Mar 16, 2015 10:43:21 PM PDT
John D says:
JNagary is right about the contest for power between the federalists and anti-federalist, all fueled by the anti-federalists desire to own slaves. Slavery is without question one of the most odious conditions that can be created. Slavery overwhelms all the pro-confederacy arguments. It dramatically tarnishes the creation of the U.S. There is no point in rehearsing my low opinion of the slave state's arguments or their amoral assumptions. ...but about the book, Conferates in the Attic, it's a great read, has nothing to do with supporting slavery or of trying to sustain some confused Confederate historical fiction. Horwitz is much more sophisticated than any southern partisan.
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