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The social significance of battle

by Freeman, Christopher S. Issue: Spring 2004

Social historians have explored uncharted territory and recorded many previously untold stories that capture the full scope of human experience. Historical narratives now incorporate new perspectives; new subjects in history have gained prominence. However, many potential influences upon social history remain untapped. Salamis, Waterloo, the Somme, and Guadalcanal are landmarks in the annals of military history, but their influence on social history has been generally neglected. Recent scholarship bucks this trend, integrating war with the study of culture. This issue of the Civil War Book Review offers several titles that exemplify this new take on war and social history.

Classical historian Victor Davis Hanson offers his perspective on three battles that range over a period of over two thousand years in his book Ripples of Battle: How Wars of the Past Still Determine How We Fight, How We Live, and How We Think (Doubleday, ISBN 0385504004, $27.50, hardcover). John Carlevale, a professor of classics at Berea College, writing in this issue's Perspectives column, examines Hanson's treatment of the battles and their cultural and social relevance.

Emporia State University professor John M. Sacher reviews Jacqueline Glass Campbell's study of When Sherman Marched North from the Sea: Resistance on the Confederate Home Front (University of North Carolina Press, ISBN 0807828092, $27.50, hardcover)that investigates the relationship between war and culture in Sherman's lesser known march through the Carolinas. In Warriors into Workers: The Civil War and the Formation of Urban-Industrial Society in a Northern City (Fordham University Press, ISBN 0823222691, $55.00, hardcover), Russell L. Johnson uses wartime experiences to account for economic change in the nineteenth century; his conclusions are evaluated by Paul F. Paskoff, chair of Louisiana State University's Department of History.

This issue of the Review also highlights several new and important works on slavery. Ira Berlin, author of the Bancroft Prize and Frederick Douglass Book Prize-winning study of slavery, Many Thousands Gone: The First Two Centuries of Slavery in North America, discusses his new book, Generations of Captivity: A History of African-American Slaves (Belknap Press of Harvard University Press, ISBN 0674010612, $29.95, hardcover), in this issue's interview. Leigh Fought's Southern Womanhood and Slavery: A Biography of Louisa S. McCord, 1810-1879 (University of Missouri Press, ISBN 0826214703, $32.50, hardcover), a biography of a pro-slavery Southern intellectual, is reviewed by Widener University history professor Sarah Roth. Robert Bonner, author of the forthcoming Southern Slaveholders and the Crisis of American Nationhood, looks at William Kaufman Scarborough's Masters of the Big House: Elite Slaveholders of the Mid-Nineteenth Century South (Louisiana State University Press, ISBN 0807128821, $39.95, hardcover), an expansive study of elite southern slaveholders. Lincoln scholar Harold Holzer acclaims Lincoln's Emancipation Proclamation (Simon & Schuster, ISBN 0743221826, $26.00, hardcover) by Allen C. Guelzo, the first major book solely concentrating on the executive order.

Rounding out this issue are three works on the post-war South and new edition of one of the watershed books of Civil War scholarship. Giselle Roberts of La Trobe University in Melbourne, Australia, explores Jane Turner Censer's new book on the experiences of elite southern woman after the war, The Reconstruction of White Southern Womanhood, 1865-1895 (Louisiana State University Press, ISBN 0807129070, $59.95, hardcover). W. Scott Poole, author of Never Surrender: Confederate Memory and Conservatism in the South Carolina Upcountry, evaluates a collection of essays entitled Monuments to the Lost Cause: Women Art and the Landscapes of Southern Memory (University of Tennessee Press, ISBN 1572332727, $45.00, hardcover). David Goldfield's Southern Histories: Public, Personal, and Sacred (University of Georgia Press, ISBN 0820325619, $24.95, hardcover), reviewed by Gaines M. Foster, professor of history at Louisiana State University, is a short work that offers some suggestions to facilitate positive change in southern culture and defines the role that historians can play. Finally, in his Rediscovering column, David Madden recommends the new illustrated edition of James M. McPherson's Pulitzer Prize-winning The Illustrated Battle Cry of Freedom: The Civil War Era (Oxford University Press, ISBN 0195159012, $65.00, hardcover).

From new perspectives on social history to definitive monographs on slavery, the Spring 2004 issue of Civil War Book Review features something for everyone.

review of EDITORIAL:

The social significance of battle, by Freeman, Christopher S., Civil War Book Review, (Spring 2004).