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To the Best of Our Knowledge: Remembering the Civil War Radio/TV Program

To the Best of Our Knowledge: Remembering the Civil War

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Publisher's Summary

In this hour, if you think that 150 years was enough time to settle all of the war's big historical debates then, well… think again. Americans still clash over some of the war's most fundamental issues – like, how the war began, and why it was fought. This hour… historians Victoria Bynum, as well as David Blight, Sean Wilentz and others talk about the challenges involved in Remembering the Civil War.

Next, Drew Gilpin Faust is the President of Harvard University, where she also works as a Lincoln Professor of History. Her latest book, This Republic of Suffering, explores one of the most sobering aspects of the Civil War – its colossal death toll. She talks to Steve Paulson about the violence of the Civil War.

Then, for many people, commemorating the Civil War is a time to reflect on the end of slavery, and the expansion of American freedom. But starting right after the war, many Americans chose not to remember the Civil War in these terms. They played down some of the very issues over which they had gone to war, in order to promote national harmony and sectional reconciliation between North and South. Historian David Blight teaches history at Yale University, and is the author of Race and Reunion: The Civil War in American Memory. Blight tells Jim Fleming Americans in both sides played a role in whitewashing the history of the Civil War, in favor of a more unified nation.

After that, John Brown, an abolitionist who from the beginning was committed to the abolition of slavery – and called for ending it through armed insurrection. Over the years, Steve Paulson has asked many historians and writers about John Brown's role in Civil War history. And he has this historical retrospective.

Finally, it may surprise some to know that not all white southerners actually fought with the Confederacy in the Civil War. In her book, The Long Shadow of the Civil War, historian Victoria Bynum relates the story of three communities in the South that waged what she calls "inner civil wars.Bynum tells Anne Strainchamps, about southern unionists who fought against the Confederacy in places as diverse as Jones County, Mississippi, North Carolina's Quaker Belt, and the Big Thicket region of East Texas. [Broadcast Date: May 13, 2011]

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