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God and General Longstreet: The Lost Cause and the Southern Mind Paperback – March 1, 1995

3.8 out of 5 stars 9 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Review

"Those who would know the Lost Cause and what it meant and still means would do well to read God and General Longstreet." -- National Review

"God and General Longstreet stands out as certainly the best recent historical work on the subject." -- Journal of Southern History

From the Back Cover

More than a century after Appomattox, the Civil War and the idea of the "Lost Cause" remain at the center of the southern mind. God and General Longstreet traces the persistence and the transformation of the Lost Cause from the first generation of former Confederates to more recent times, when the Lost Cause has continued to endure in the commitment of southerners to their regional culture. Southern writers from the Confederate period through the southern renascence and into the 1970s fostered the Lost Cause, creating an image of the South that was at once romantic and tragic. By examining the work of these writers, Thomas Connelly and Barbara Bellows explain why the nation embraced this image and outline the evolution of the Lost Cause mentality from its origins in the South's surrender to its role in a century-long national expression of defeat that extended from 1865 through the Vietnam War. As Connelly and Bellows demonstrate, the Lost Cause was a realization of mortality in an American world striving for perfection, an admission of failure juxtaposed against a national faith in success.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 158 pages
  • Publisher: LSU Press (March 1, 1995)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0807120146
  • ISBN-13: 978-0807120149
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.4 x 8.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (9 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,285,950 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Daniel Hurley VINE VOICE on August 22, 2003
Format: Hardcover
If you want to know how the Lost Cause syndrome got its start and how Longstreet to his shock became the designated failure of the Confederacy, this is a revealing book. Old Pete survived his crippling wounds incurred by bullets during his great counter attack in the Wilderness but the ink from "Old Jube's" (Jubal Early's) pen created greater harm and anguish to Longstreet as Early effectively destroys his reputation. Early holds a tight grasp of southern history and the Southern Historical Society making sure that no one dared write anything about the War of the Rebellion without his approval. How ironic that the man that moved Alexander's auxiliary guns away during Pickett's charge, the former and inefficient Pendleton, makes up a bogus story about Longstreet disobeying a sunrise attack order on the second day of Gettysburg in a speech shortly after Lee died and blames Longstreet solely for the lost battle and in turn the "cause". Early picks up the ridiculous story to exaggerate Pendleton's story to gross proportions while coloring his own role that is very suspect in not supporting an attack on Culp's Hill on the first day of Gettysburg and he also pushed Ewell in not moving his corps to the right as Lee wished failing to contract Lee's over extended lines. Old Jube was a tough fighter but had a hard time with cavalry particularly in the Valley where Lee finally has Early relieved. Unlike Longstreet and Lee, Early left the country after the war and upon his return made a career out of rewriting history to suit his slant. Jubal Early could have been the Roy Cohn of the post Civil War era.Read more ›
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I consider myself an avid Civil War history reader and James Longstreet admirer. I was anticipating reading more on how General Longstreet's reputation became tarnished and 'trashed' by Jubal Early and his compatriots in an effort to place blame on Dutch Longstreet for the loss at Gettysburg, and elevating Lee to 'Saint" status after the war. In my opinion, Gen. Longstreet was Lee's most capable and dependable Corps commander - Lee's "Old War Horse."

This book is about the 'Lost Cause' myth and how it came about, and only mentions James Longstreet in a 'few' lines. The book is very interesting and factual, but I believe the title is misleading.

Buy it to read about the Lost Cause origins, but not to read about James Longstreet.

PS: If you are in North Georgia, a visit to his grave site in Alta Vista Cemetery,Gainesville, GA, is well worth it. Don't forget to leave a cigar for Ole Dutch!
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The authors explore the Myth of the Lost Cause from a new (to me) perspective in this book. I was particularly interested in their view that the Lost Cause was, by and large, a Virginia-based concession because most of Myth's first and second wave writers were Virginians. I had never encountered that argument before and it makes fairly good sense. The examination of RE Lee as a product of his Virginia social environment - both the man himself and the Mythic man he has become - was new to me as well.
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Format: Paperback
I've long been a student of the Civil War Era and the Lost Cause is one of the facets of the Civil War that I have long been interested in. This is a short book by Connelly (one of my favorite CW historians, by the way) and Bellows, but it is still one of the better ones on the Lost Cause. This work is more about the Southern mind and how Southern writers built up the Lost Cause and how it has evolved up until this book was originally published in the early 1980s. It also gives an excellent look at how Robert E. Lee became the symbol of the South, which Connelly wrote an entire book about as well. What emerges is the Lost Cause evolved from petty in-fighting about who was to blame for Confederate defeat (hence the Longstreet part of the title) to the creation of an image of the South that was both romantic and tragic. Connelly and Bellows argue that by World War I, the entire nation embraced this image and the dual image of the South has remained. This is a very interesting book and one that should be read by all students of the South, not just people interested in the Civil War. I give it 4 stars instead of 5, however, because there are not endnotes or footnotes so we have no idea where the authors are getting their source material, a big no-no for two academic historians. Besides that, though, no real complaints about this work.
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Format: Paperback
A most enjoyable short book in which the authors, in a set of well-orchestrated essays, ponder on the development and meaning of the idea of the "Lost Cause". Soon after Appomattox, the phrase became a by-word for the perpetuation of the Confederate ideal, which itself was based on an (imperfect) analogy with the lost cause that was medieval Scotland's struggle for independence as related in Sir Walter Scott's novels. (Earnest southern writers attempted to prove that Robert E. Lee was a descendent of Robert the Bruce).

From 1865 through the present days, the Lost Cause has had a variety of meanings. Those men who were involved in Confederate military and political circles attempted to justify secession, and to find reasons for the ultimate military catastrophe. Jefferson Davis and Alexander Stephens, among others, wrote lengthy and turgid volumes essentially stating that the South went to war to protect its "rights". The fact that underlying these rights was the demand of the slave states to extend their "peculiar institution" i.e., slavery, into new territories, if not into free states, was of course, downplayed. Slavery, they said, had nothing to do with the matter. The military men, when not whining about the North's numerical and material advantages, looked for scapegoats within their own ranks.

The most maligned of these was James Longstreet, who was Lee's "right arm" and "old war horse". Had it not been for his "disobedience to Lee's orders" at Gettysburg--to attack at sunrise on the 2nd of July, the battle would have been won and the Confederate cause gained. William Nelson Pendleton, the ineffective and inefficient overseer of the artillery of the Army of Northern Virginia, was the source of this accusation.
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