The J. G. Randall Distinguished Professor of History at the University of Illinois and associate editor of North and South magazine, Bruce Levine presents a gripping chronicle of the cultural and economic upheaval the South experienced during and after the Civil War. Drawing upon a treasure trove of diaries, letters, newspaper articles, and government documents, Levine offers a unique perspective on the old South's demise through the voices of those who lived through the conflict.
©2013 Bruce Levine (P)2013 Recorded Books
"In this splendidly colorful account, the author compares the old South’s disintegration to ‘The Fall of the House of Usher,’ where microscopic cracks in the mansion’s foundation gradually widen until the building implodes.... A sensitive, informed rendering of the wrenching reformation of the South [told] with the ease and authority borne of decades of study." (Kirkus Reviews)
"Enlightening..... a deep, rich, and complex analysis." (Publishers Weekly)
"Masterful.... Levine’s employment of testimonies by slaveholders, slaves, and pro-Union Southerners is effective and often poignant." (Booklist)
A decent work, but it focuses too much on blow by blow military account of the war (which is done much better and in more depth in Battle Cry of Freedom and Shelby Foote's series) and the pre-war slave system and not enough on the "social revolution that transformed the South." Reconstruction is glossed over at the very end of the book, and there is little discussion of carpetbaggers, the migration of former slaves to northern industrial cities, the rise of the KKK, etc. Only recommended for novices of the Civil War period.
Once I had gotten half way through the book, I realized it probably wasn't going to get any more interesting. I was hoping to have some new insight offered, but if it was there I missed it. Rather, the author is quite repetitive. Each point has several quotes from contemporary diarists, etc. that confirm/repeat the point. For a great Civil War history, I recommend Battle Cry of Freedom, by McPherson.
I have read many books about the civil war and it becomes harder and harder to find books that address the period from a new prospective. This book, written from the southern point of view felt wholly new and fresh, and did a excellent job of describing the complex and varying viewpoints of its different constituencies. The narrator did a wonderful job of conveying these voices.
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