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The Bloody Shirt: Terror After the Civil War Paperback – Bargain Price, December 30, 2008
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From Publishers Weekly
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
The New York Times
Top Customer Reviews
But historians have long recognized that civil wars are especially violent and acrimonious, and even after peace accords are signed, aftershocks of rage and recrimination continue. Given its horrible bloodletting, it would be strange if the American Civil War were an exception to this general rule. Author Stephen Budiansky, in one of the most horrifying books I've ever read, documents the decade following Appomattox and concludes two things: the war didn't really end in 1865, and the North didn't achieve the victory it thought it did.
When the "official" war ended, die-hard Confederates and secessionists seethed with anger and a stubborn refusal to submit. John Richard Dennett, a young "Nation" reporter who traveled through the South for 8 months after the war ended, concluded that nearly every Southerner he encountered was convinced that the emancipation of the slaves had reversed the natural order of things, and would eventually mean that an "inferior" race, bolstered by Republican carpetbaggers, would dominate a "superior" one. Given that a black revolt was one of the antebellum South's worst nightmares, this post-war conviction was a powerful incentive to violence.Read more ›
The main problem I had with the book was its emphasis on description rather than analysis. It reads like dispatches from the Reconstruction "front." That's fine, to a point, but at times it is more a string of primary sources than a monograph. Very often, letters and newspaper editorials, frequently printed whole, are left to speak for themselves. Much of this information could've been boiled down--and more importantly, should've been commented upon. For example, at one point, one Southern newspaper makes reference to "Colfax." Those familiar with the Reconstruction period will know this means the "Colfax Massacre" of 1873, which happened in Louisiana (if one wants to read about that, he/she can read the recent book "Redemption" by Nicholas Lemann).
Most importantly, the book lacks sufficient political context. The last portions of the book deal with the infamous Hamburg massacre (or, as Democrats fashioned it, the Hamburg "riot") in South Carolina. Budiansky unfortunately, doesn't give us much context about Reconstruction politics in that state.Read more ›
The Bloody Shirt is not a straightforward history of the era but rather follows the lives and careers of several people involved in this insurgency. Through these people's stories we gain an understanding of the wider insurgency and the mistakes made by the Union which allowed the Confederacy to overturn the gains won in the Civil War and continue on their way of life.
The book focuses on people like; Albert Morgan, who was assigned as a soldier to police the Reconstruction South and later became a state senator from Mississippi, Lewis Merrill who commanded troops in reconstruction South Carolina, Adelbert Ames, also a soldier, who became the appointed governor of Mississippi, and Prince Rivers, a former slave who fought for the Union and became a county magistrate in South Carolina. Also making an appearance is General James Longstreet, the brilliant Confederate commander who later became a Republican and advocated the Union cause.
These men confront the enormously difficult challenge of trying to change a hostile culture. This culture, which could not bring itself to admit wrongdoing or guilt in any of its activities, resisted the attempt to enfranchise the black population with the rights of citizenship granted to them under the 14th 15th and 16th amendments to the Constitution.
What is lost to most modern Americans is the fact that this was truly a violent insurgency.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
I have been a student of American history for long before doing doctoral work in US history, nearly fifty years ago. Read morePublished 5 months ago by Michael Saks
This is a vividly written book that sheds a lot of light on some events and tactics used by many white Southerners after the Civil War to defeat civil rights, defy Federal... Read morePublished 10 months ago by Robert Horn
Prior to Dylan Roof's killing of innocents in Charleston, we would hear in the South that the battle flag symbolized history and heritage and Southern culture. Read morePublished 10 months ago by David C. Roberts
Timely account of how the South remain locked in a time warp. Budiansky's narrative of life in the South during reconstruction is very well written. Read morePublished 12 months ago by Morgan Hellgren