A panoramic collection of essays written by both established and emerging scholars, American Discord examines critical aspects of the Civil War era, including rhetoric and nationalism, politics and violence, gender, race, and religion. Beginning with an overview of the political culture of the 1860s, the collection reveals that most Americans entered the decade opposed to political compromise. Essays from Megan L. Bever, Glenn David Brasher, Lawrence A. Kreiser Jr., and Christian McWhirter discuss the rancorous political climate of the day and the sense of racial superiority woven into the political fabric of the era.
Shifting focus to the actual war, Rachel K. Deale, Lindsay Rae Privette, Adam H. Petty, and A. Wilson Greene contribute essays on internal conflict, lack of compromise, and commitment to white supremacy. Here, contributors adopt a broad understanding of “battle,” considering environmental effects and the impact of the war after the battles were over. Essays by Laura Mammina and Charity Rakestraw and Kristopher A. Teters reveal that while the war blurred the boundaries, it ultimately prompted Americans to grasp for the familiar established hierarchies of gender and race.
Examinations of chaos and internal division suggest that the political culture of Reconstruction was every bit as contentious as the war itself. Former Confederates decried the barbarity of their Yankee conquerors, while Republicans portrayed Democrats as backward rubes in need of civilizing. Essays by Kevin L. Hughes, Daniel J. Burge, T. Robert Hart, John F. Marszalek, and T. Michael Parrish highlight Americans’ continued reliance on hyperbolic rhetoric.
American Discord embraces a multifaceted view of the Civil War and its aftermath, attempting to capture the complicated human experiences of the men and women caught in the conflict. These essays acknowledge that ordinary people and their experiences matter, and the dynamics among family members, friends, and enemies have far-reaching consequences.
Megan L. Bever is associate professor of history at Missouri Southern State University. She is coeditor of The Historian behind the History: Conversations with Southern Historians.
Lesley J. Gordon is the Charles G. Summersell Chair of Southern History at the University of Alabama and author of A Broken Regiment: The 16th Connecticut’s Civil War and General George E. Pickett in Life and Legend.
Laura Mammina is assistant professor of history at the University of Houston–Victoria.
Gary W. Gallagher is the John L. Nau III Professor in the History of the American Civil War Emeritus at the University of Virginia. He is the author or editor of more than forty books on the Civil War and its memory.
This volume pays a well-deserved tribute to the career of George C. Rable, whose scholarship explored numerous corners of the Civil War Era, including postwar violence, wartime politics, religious faith, and the impact of combat. The fifteen essayists continue in his tradition of solid research into eclectic areas as they highlight how people made sense of the chaos of secession, war, and Reconstruction. Even readers who thought they knew a lot about the era will gain new insights from the efforts of these fine scholars.
~William A. Blair, director Emeritus of the Richards Civil War Center at Pennsylvania State University and founding editor of "The Journal of the Civil War Era"
American Discord provides an appropriate salute to its honoree, the distinguished historian George Rable. Befitting the range of Rable’s scholarship on the Civil War era, the essays herein by colleagues and students treat an extraordinary variety of topics, including environment, gender, intellectual, memory, military, music, politics, and race. All engage the reader with incisive discussions of notable subjects. American Discord merits a wide audience both from scholars and everyone else interested in the Civil War era.
~William J. Cooper, author of "Approaching Civil War and Southern History"
In this robust collection, historian George C. Rable’s students and colleagues honor him with an array of stellar scholarship on the Civil War and Reconstruction. The volume matches Rable’s own high standards, with illuminating essays on not only military, but also social, political, and environmental aspects of the Civil War era.
~Randal Hall, author of "Mountains on the Market: Industry, the Environment, and the South"
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