Race and Reunion: The Civil War in American Memory

Race and Reunion The Civil War in American Memory No historical event has left as deep an imprint on America s collective memory as the Civil War In the war s aftermath Americans had to embrace and cast off a traumatic past David Blight explores the

  • Title: Race and Reunion: The Civil War in American Memory
  • Author: David W. Blight
  • ISBN: 9780674008199
  • Page: 310
  • Format: Paperback
  • No historical event has left as deep an imprint on America s collective memory as the Civil War In the war s aftermath, Americans had to embrace and cast off a traumatic past David Blight explores the perilous path of remembering and forgetting, and reveals its tragic costs to race relations and America s national reunion.In 1865, confronted with a ravaged landscape andNo historical event has left as deep an imprint on America s collective memory as the Civil War In the war s aftermath, Americans had to embrace and cast off a traumatic past David Blight explores the perilous path of remembering and forgetting, and reveals its tragic costs to race relations and America s national reunion.In 1865, confronted with a ravaged landscape and a torn America, the North and South began a slow and painful process of reconciliation The ensuing decades witnessed the triumph of a culture of reunion, which downplayed sectional division and emphasized the heroics of a battle between noble men of the Blue and the Gray Nearly lost in national culture were the moral crusades over slavery that ignited the war, the presence and participation of African Americans throughout the war, and the promise of emancipation that emerged from the war Race and Reunion is a history of how the unity of white America was purchased through the increasing segregation of black and white memory of the Civil War Blight delves deeply into the shifting meanings of death and sacrifice, Reconstruction, the romanticized South of literature, soldiers reminiscences of battle, the idea of the Lost Cause, and the ritual of Memorial Day He resurrects the variety of African American voices and memories of the war and the efforts to preserve the emancipationist legacy in the midst of a culture built on its denial Blight s sweeping narrative of triumph and tragedy, romance and realism, is a compelling tale of the politics of memory, of how a nation healed from civil war without justice By the early twentieth century, the problems of race and reunion were locked in mutual dependence, a painful legacy that continues to haunt us today.

    One thought on “Race and Reunion: The Civil War in American Memory”

    1. A very eloquently written book on the aftermath of the Civil War in the United States. The author’s conclusions, backed by facts, are that reunion (reconciliation) of North and South took precedence over resolving slavery (race) in the South. Reconstruction started out with Lincoln’s address after the war, but ultimately was doomed to failure by the mid-1870s’. Southern racism and power overturned the Reconstruction forces and Jim Crow became ascendant. As pointed out by Mr. Blight, the So [...]

    2. David Blight is one of the most prolific historians alive today. In this book, Blight traces the origins and growth of the Lost Cause myth from the end of the Civil War and examines the impact it has on people all over the country. It is clear that the myth could never have achieved acceptance without the complicity of the North. It is proof beyond a doubt that the North won the war but lost the peace. This book should be required reading for all those who still labor under the illusion that the [...]

    3. This is a terribly interesting history. Simply put, Race and Reunion is an examination of how the Civil War came to be remembered in the 50 years following the war and how the racial equality granted during the war came to be forgotten and racism and white supremacy accepted in American society. Blight's great theme is that the need to reconcile and reunify the 2 sides--north and South--overrode the equality granted African-Americans during the war. The Panic of 1873 hastened the need to end the [...]

    4. I first became interested in reading Professor David Blight after listening to his course on the Civil War and Reconstruction on iTunes University. This year’s intense racial strife in America and the recurring arguments over displaying the confederate flag in the south caused me to move “Race and Reunion” to the top of my reading list. The book is an exhaustive examination of the American memory of the meaning of the Civil War in the first 50 years following the south’s defeat. Blight r [...]

    5. I went with my mother to a local books a million when I was a senior in High School to special order David W. Blight's essay collection Beyond the Battlefield. I knew that I wanted to study history and that I was particularly interested in historical memory, but didn't know what that actually was. Blight seemed the writer who had the key. I read the essay about Ken Burns's Civil War (something I had watched multiple times at that point), and the rest were way above my head. I eventually sold the [...]

    6. This book is a polemic disguised as history. Its cornerstone is Blight's revision of the meaning to be taken from the close of Lincoln's Gettysburg Address: "of the people, by the people, for the people." Blight claims this was a demand for racial equality, and in a timeline sleight of hand he construes the war itself, which commenced in April 1861, as rooted in this sentiment (found nowhere outside Abolitionist writings) supposedly expressed by Lincoln in November 1863.Only racial equality, whi [...]

    7. It's that time of year when I only read articles and books for school. This one I really enjoyed and prompted some interesting questions as well as told me a lot of stuff I did not know.

    8. I learned about this book while watching yet another of those PBS programs about Abraham Lincoln. By the way, why hasn't some cable TV genius launched a "Lincoln" channel by now? Someone writes a book about the guy every 20 minutes, so there must be a market out there for round-the-clock Abe-mania. But I digress.So David Blight is on this Lincoln doc, and he has some really intelligent things to say, including this: "History is not just about the remembering, but also the forgetting." And he wro [...]

    9. Blight asserts that how Americans interpret and remember the Civil War was and continues to be important to our sense of political and regional identity. He writes, “the inexorable drive for reunion both used and trumped race” (2); “Americans have had to work through the meaning of their Civil War in its rightful place - in the politics of memory. And as long as we have a politics of race in America, we will have a politics of Civil War memory.” (4) That the Lost Cause is still alive and [...]

    10. Political Correctness For White Southerners This was one of the best books I ever read. While today we often misuse the term "political correctness" to label actual moral positions, this book demonstrates that true "political correctness" was applied to make white Southerners feel good about their monstrous stand to die to preserve slavery and later to coverup their deadly inhumane actions to deny African-Americans the right to live as full citizens of the United Staes. What a shameful history t [...]

    11. Blight looks at the struggle between three legacies of the American Civil War in the production of public memory. Reunion is ultimately deemed more important by those with the means of production at the sacrifice of race. While intersectional reconciliation is achieved within 50 years following the war, interracial reconciliation has been largely silenced in the "mass-media market culture" that arose at the turn of the century. With great clarity and insight, Blight gives the reader moments to p [...]

    12. This book looks at US cultural history from 1863-1913, the 50 years after the Emancipation Proclamation. Three forces were at odds and needingto be resolved: The impulse to reunite the country after the Civil War, the full realization of freedom and citizenship for black Americans, and the continuing white supremacy at work throughout the North and South. Blight's thesis is that black American freedom was sacrificed for the cause of reunion by tolerating and continuing white supremacy. The book [...]

    13. Blight gives us all new ways to think about the Civil War in historical memory. The North may have won the battle, but it's pretty clear that the South won the war for the memory of the war.

    14. Reconstruction Versus ReconciliationFollowing the end of the Civil War, there was a tension between those who favored a strict reconstuction of the governments of the defeated South and those who favored a reconciliationist approach. The reconstructionists, led by the Radical Republicans in Congress wanted to protect,implement, and perhaps expand the rights of the newly freed blacks. The reconciliationists favored putting the Civil War behind the United States and creating a sense of nationalism [...]

    15. This book was certainly an eye-opener with little known facts missing from the history books when I was matriculating at West High School in Rochester, N.Y. During my college undergraduate years, these accounts were still missing from mainstream American History textbooks. Dr. Blight did an excellent job at explaining how 'Decoration Day' founded by ex-slaves to commemorate the death of Union Soldiers was a precursor to the Memorial Day celebrations. 'Race and Reunion' is also a scholarly examin [...]

    16. One of the best books I read this year. It was mentioned as a resource in an article I read in the NY Times about the statues of Confederate heroes that had come under such scrutiny in the past few months. This book (which was first published in 2001) is a thorough examination of the changes in perception of slavery and human rights in America in the era of the Civil War and afterwards. Very good discussions of the issues which serve as a corrective to the common perceptions of that time in our [...]

    17. Had to read this and review it for my Memory and History course in grad school. If you are looking for a book that might help you understand why the United States *still* has race issues (in addition to other ones as well), this book will definitely help you on that journey. This work is dense with information regarding the Reconstruction era and how America dealt with the violence and destruction of its Civil War.

    18. This is one of those books every American should read. It explains how, from shortly after the Civil War through the early half of the 20th century, the south won the propaganda battle, bringing sympathy to its side through a revisionist history of who the confederacy really was and how the government and society viewed race and racial issues.

    19. Excellent history and analysis of the South's creation of myth about the Civil War and the causes of the Civil War. Myths are not necessarily false (true or false in this sense not necessarily binary, but a blended truthness or falseness). The myth the South created (with the complicity of many in the North) was on the false side of the spectrum, essentially whitewashing the evils of slavery and its role in causing the South to secede to protect and preserve its peculiar institution from the abo [...]

    20. David Blight reads the Lost Cause so you don't have to.This book is a detailed prose bibliography of writings on the Civil War between the Emancipation Proclamation in 1863 and the veteran's reunion at Gettysburg in 1913, which is both a weakness and a strength.The core of Blight's analysis appears mostly in the Prologue and Epilogue; readers of history who enjoy being swept along by a narrative may not find what they're looking for here.However, the choices of quotations from the writings and s [...]

    21. The common wisdom is that history is written by the victors- this is complicated in the case of an unsuccessful Civil War, when the victors and losers find themselves on the same side, and multiple groups have conflicting interests in reunification, maintaining a legacy, and shaping their own memory. This is a history book about the creation of history- a very detailed look at how interpretation of the meaning of the Civil War was being shaped as soon as it ended. Northern politicians who needed [...]

    22. Essential history. A cultural history companion to Eric Foner's works on Reconstruction and Steven Hahn's A Nation Under Our Feet, David Blight's Race and Reunion charts the competing visions of Reconstruction – white supremacy, white-driven reconciliation of North and South, and the emancipationism of African Americans and Radical Republicans – in the fifty years after the Civil War ended. Blight calls the work a synthesis, but it still appears to be a work of tremendous original research, [...]

    23. (-/+) This was a difficult read. As someone who's always heard of Sherman's razing of Atlanta through family stories, I picked this up as a start to understand the mixed motivations in the aftermath of the War, as well as the attempts to rewrite history. For the most part, this book succeeded - with the disclaimer that most of the chapters were written more for the historian rather than the layman. (For fellow readers who might be intimidated; the 'Lost Cause' chapter is worth reading singularly [...]

    24. There are some books that really help to transform the way you think. I was expecting this book to be informative, but not necessarily transformative. It turned out to be both. Blight lays out the events, along with his analysis, of the 50 years after the Civil War. While he occasionally lays the metaphor on thick to make his point, his point is so grounded in historical fact (and the facts are so interesting and, unfortunately, new/unknown) that his heavy hand is easily excusable. After all, Bl [...]

    25. This is an excellent, and extremely well-documented, history of Reconstruction and the years afterward, and how the ideas of what the Civil War stood for were shaped in those years. I first became interested in this subject after reading Tony Horwitz's Confederates in the Attic last year. I was so amazed by some of the differences between how the Civil War is remembered in the North and in the South, and this book really lets you see how those differences were nourished and evolved. If you follo [...]

    26. This is a great book. It provides an excellent foundation for the understanding of race in the American South during the late 19th century. Western civilization of the 19th century was characterized by a race fetishism. Throughout the 19th century 'race', as it largely remains, was integral to individual identity. The dominant narrative of White supremacy was a very potent and seemingly cogent perspective throughout the world. It was utilized to maintain many exploitive or extractive activities. [...]

    27. I felt like the books I've read so far on Reconstruction focused on political action over a period of, at most, 30 years. I'm more interested in the experience of ordinary people, who would really feel the ramifications of the war, and also how this played out longterm, since we are dealing with this still today. I felt like Steven Hahn did cover some of this in A Nation Under Our Feet, but he was much more interested in examining how this played out through institutional structures, which provi [...]

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