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Customer Review

on May 27, 2004
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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