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Confederates in the Attic: Dispatches from the Unfinished Civil War Paperback – February 22, 1999
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Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Tony Horwitz returned from years of traipsing through war zones as a foreign correspondent only to find that his childhood obsession with the Civil War had caught up with him. Near his house in Virginia, he happened to encounter people who reenact the Civil War--men who dress up in period costumes and live as Johnny Rebs and Billy Yanks. Intrigued, he wound up having some odd adventures with the "hardcores," the fellows who try to immerse themselves in the war, hoping to get what they lovingly term a "period rush." Horwitz spent two years reporting on why Americans are still so obsessed with the war, and the ways in which it resonates today. In the course of his work, he made a sobering side trip to cover a murder that was provoked by the display of the Confederate flag, and he spoke to a number of people seeking to honor their ancestors who fought for the Confederacy. Horwitz has a flair for odd details that spark insights, and Confederates in the Attic is a thoughtful and entertaining book that does much to explain America's continuing obsession with the Civil War. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
From Publishers Weekly
The first book the author's Russian grandfather bought on emigrating to the U.S., though he neither read nor spoke English, was about the Civil War, a book he still pored over into his 90s. And when Horwitz was a child, his father read him tales of the Civil War instead of fairy tales and children's literature. The powerful hold of that conflict on a diverse assortment of Americans translates into more than 60,000 books on the subject, according to the author; for some Civil War buffs it is an obsession that generates a startling number of clubs whose members regularly reenact the battles, playing out once again the logistics, problems, hardships, leading characters, losses and victories. Horwitz (Baghdad Without a Map), on a year-long exploration of these groups throughout the South, participated in some of their activities and came to know the lives and personalities of several of their members. His vivid, personal account is a mesmerizing review of history from a novel and entertaining angle.
Copyright 1998 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Top Customer Reviews
The author sleeps in the rain and cold, almost gets beat up in redneck bars, and meets a wide variety of characters during his travels. You will understand Southern mentality much better after reading this book.
Horwitz maintains an objective reporter's touch, letting his talkers speak for themselves as he questions people about confederate heroes, southern history, current racial conflicts, what the confederate flag and civil war history represents to them. He is a Northerner, and shares the northern frustration and bafflement by the recalcitrance of the South. But he also visits with various African-Americans: schoolteachers and their students, and relates some of the attitudes of black youth , some of their misconceptions of history... the optimism of the 1960's is gone, and overall the picture is not encouraging. And yet, this is a very readable book, makes palatable the venturing into this disturbing topic.
The book is best when he is writing about Hodge, other parts get a little bogged down when he interviews blacks and whites about their opinion of the War. That part is a little slow, but I guess he was trying to make a point. Sadly, the Battlefields are being covered up by strip centers and fast food joints. Will there be a McDonald's in the middle of Shiloh?
Hodge, according to his web site, now makes films and sometimes gives tours of the battlefields. I would like to see some of them, but not as he does with his "hardcore" buddies by lying in freezing battlefield ditches in filthy clothes, eating hardtack and sowbelly, that is why he is hardcore! As authentic as can be without actually using real bullets.
What tickled my funny-bone was Tony's running commentary on his efforts to literally walk in the shoes of the Confederate and then later Union soldiers through historical interpretation during visits to battlefields and sites significant to the conflict. What a hoot! Even if you know much or next to nothing about "The Civil War", this lively and immensely entertaining book will add significantly to your knowledge on the subject - particularly through the lens of the South - and give you much food for thought...
A quick read that informs and entertains.