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Mary Chesnut's Diary (Penguin Classics) by [Chesnut, Mary Boykin]
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Mary Chesnut's Diary (Penguin Classics) Kindle Edition

4.3 out of 5 stars 18 customer reviews

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Length: 388 pages Word Wise: Enabled Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled
Page Flip: Enabled

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Editorial Reviews

About the Author

Catherine Clinton earned her undergraduate degree in Afro-American studies from Harvard University and her Ph.D. in history from Princeton. She is the author of many historical works for children and adults, and has taught African American Studies at Brandeis University, Brown University, Harvard University, and Queen's University Belfast, Northern Ireland . Dr. Clinton lives in San Antonio, Texas, where she's Denman Professor of American History at the University of Texas San Antonio.

Product Details

  • File Size: 995 KB
  • Print Length: 388 pages
  • Page Numbers Source ISBN: 0143106066
  • Publisher: Penguin Classics; Reprint edition (April 26, 2011)
  • Publication Date: April 26, 2011
  • Sold by: Penguin Group (USA) LLC
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B004IYJEII
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Enabled
  • Lending: Not Enabled
  • Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #384,522 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
Mary Boykin Chesnut was born into a wealthy South Carolina family.She grew up on a plantation receiving a good education in Charleston. Mary married James Chesnut when she was seventeen years old. Her husband served as a brigadier general in the Confederate Army. The Chesnuts were childless. The American Civil War war destroyed their fortune. Mary's words will live forever in the hearts and minds of all who read her diary. Mrs.Chesnut was a friend of Confederate President Jefferson Davis and his charming wife Varina. Chesnut comments on her relationships with the Davis family and a panoply of famous Southerners whose homes she often visited. Mary was a bookish woman who enjoyed the novels of Dickens, Trollope, Thackery and George Eliot among others. She enjoyed parties, eating out and dancing. She was a sociable woman who loved good food and gossip. She did not care for Harriet Beecher Stowe's "Uncle Tom's Cabin" and was a strong Southern patriot. Mary had a good relationship with her slaves but considered them inferior to whites. In this attitude she mirrors the prejudices of her time. Her diary is a treasure trove of memorable quotes and observations about the Southern war effort and the people of the Confederacy. I include a smattering of her sage and witty remarks to give you the flavor of her diary entries:
"...Jackson whose regiment stood so stock still under fire that they were called a stone wall."-p. 78
"...Beauregard writes that is army is upon the verge of starvation..."-p. 85
"People avoid great talkers, men given to monologue, as they would avoid fire,famine or pestilence."-p. 105
"I like Disraeli because I find so many clever things in him. I like the sparkle and glitter."-p. 119
"Mr. Yancey says we have not one jot of hope.
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Format: Paperback
An insightful and articulate journal, from the point of view of a wealthy Charleston woman who knew or met...though her statesman, and later, military husband...many of the main players on the confederate side. She also travels though the south from Charleston as the war progresses. All I can say, for those true civil war buffs, it's well worth the read. I think it's essential. In fact it's a good read for anyone.

Chestnut personally knew Jefferson Davis for example, and reports not only his conversations but his state of mind and deeper moods. It was almost as if, he had a grip on the short odds the south faced, and while others were cheering initial victories, Davis maintained a more reserved and cautious tone...sometimes bordering on melancholy. This Chestnut reports with honesty and sensitivity.

With insight, intelligence and real nuance, she reports on important issues like rights of states, slavery, economics, as well as her ideas of honor, virtue, victory, defeat, and mercy. She speaks from a southern perspective, but never shirks from the hard veracity of Dixie's deteriorating prospects. Her commentary upon African slaves is quite powerful: "People talk before them as if they were chairs and tables. They make no sign. Are the stolidly stupid, or wiser than we are; silent and strong, biding their time?"

A great bonus, is that she's also quite readable, mixing the mundane with historic events. She's a good writer and holds one's attention. With the Penguin Edition, readers also get excellent footnotes, which elucidate a sometimes missing chronology. And not to be missed, is the Catherine Clinton Introduction, as it explains Chestnut's personal life, politics, and a writing process, which includes thoughts and insights on her later embellishments.
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Format: Paperback
As I grow older, the history of our country becomes more interesting. Mary Chestnut has contributed greatly in my opinion to the history of the Confederacy and living conditions during that time period. Reading this book is almost like living through those times with Mary Chestnut. Her words and opinions live on in this diary and it makes for fascinating reading. I have seen bits and pieces of her diary before even in history books and am so glad to have the entire diary now. It is amazing.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Excellent insight as to the inner circle of the Chesnut's as her husband was also aide to Jefferson Davis and a Brigadier General plus their relationship with Jefferson Davis, Mrs. Davis and other wives and officer's of the era. Her diaries also clarified the importance of cotton to the south and the error made in not shipping cotton over seas for safe keeping. It is a shame she apparently quit writing or keeping a journal for the remaing some twenty years of her life after the Civil War. I can see where that would ,even though sad, have been very interesting. Also interesting that both Mr and Mrs Chesnut didn't treat their slaves like "slaves" per se and their slaves actually liked and respected both of them and they were treated like family. I almost detected that, had it not been for them being from South Carolina and he in government, that they might have been on the other side.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
If you want a civilian's view of the War this is the book to get. She and her diary are well known to Civil War buffs. An excellent perspective from a woman who was there.
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