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The Civil War in Popular Culture: Memory and Meaning

edited by Lawrence A. Kreiser Jr. and Randal Allred

Availablecloth$50.00x 978-0-8131-4307-1
248 pages  Pubdate: 01/14/2014  6 x 9  

Dividing the nation for four years, the American Civil War resulted in 750,000 casualties and forever changed the country’s destiny. The conflict continues to resonate in our collective memory, and U.S. economic, cultural, and social structures still suffer the aftershocks of the nation’s largest and most devastating war. Nearly 150 years later, portrayals of the war in books, songs, cinema, and other cultural media continue to draw widespread attention and controversy.

In The Civil War in Popular Culture: Memory and Meaning, editors Lawrence A. Kreiser Jr. and Randal Allred analyze American depictions of the war across a variety of mediums, from books and film, to monuments and battlefield reunions, to reenactments and board games. This collection examines how battle strategies, famous generals, and the nuances of Civil War politics translate into contemporary popular culture. This unique analysis assesses the intersection of the Civil War and popular culture by recognizing how memories and commemorations of the war have changed since it ended in 1865.

Lawrence A. Kreiser Jr. is associate professor history at Stillman College. He is a coeditor of Popular Culture Values and the Arts: Essays on Elitism versus Democratization and The Detective as Historian: History and Art in Historical Crime Fiction.

Randal Allred is professor of English at Brigham Young University–Hawaii.

The Civil War in Popular Culture is an eclectic approach covering a variety of subjects, including Civil War myth and memory, films, novels, battlefield preservation and monuments, souvenirs, race and gender politics, the internet, war gaming, military medicine, and battle field reenactment. A lively read based on fresh research. -- Frank J. Wetta, author of The Louisiana Scalawags; Politics, Race, and Terrorism during the Civil War and Reconstruction.

"This wide-ranging collection speaks to the power of the Civil War as a long-term force in American popular culture. The contributors illuminate the phenomenon from a remarkable range of perspectives extending from veterans in the post-Appomattox era through re-enactors and Hollywood films of the early 21st century. Whether drawn especially to historical, literary, or cinematic themes, readers will find much to ponder and enjoy in these pages."--Gary W. Gallagher, author of The Union War and The Confederate War

This superbly framed and crafted volume is one of very few books on the Civil War that successfully examines the possible reasons why and how we, as Americans, are so fixated with the subject. Kreiser and Allred explore several possibilities in their excellent introduction, while the contributors amplify and complicate the discourse in a series of well-argued and well-positioned essays. The underlying explanation of how and why popular culture has embraced the Civil War range from the direct impact of the war on its participants, combatant reunions and long term battlefield preservation, the memory of the war in the minds of subsequent generations, and a few of the many ways that the Civil War has been used to craft, invent, or re-imagine cultural memory and the popular imagination in fiction, film, reenactments, and even board games.--Joy Sperling
President PCA/ACA, Professor of Art History, Denison University

One hundred and fifty years later and Americans appear to be as deeply interested in the Civil War and its legacy as their parents and grandparents. Echoes of the war can be heard in Hollywood films, contemporary politics and more overtly in debates over the public display of the Confederate flag, the naming of parks after controversial generals, and during battle reenactments. This collection of essays brings together some of the leading experts and rising stars in the field of Civil War memory. While the essays reflect both continuity and change in how Americans have remembered the war, they also confirm that the war will remain front and center in this nation's collective memory for the near future. Scholars and Civil War enthusiasts alike will enjoy and profit from reading this book.--Kevin M. Levin, author of Remembering the Battle of the Crater: War as Murder, Instructor of History, Gann Academy

The Civil War in Popular Culture: Memory and Meaning by Lawrence A. Kreiser Jr. & Randal Allred looks at depictions of the war across a variety of mediums, from books and film, to monuments and battlefield reunions, to reenactments and board games. --Those That Can't Write -- Those That Can't Write

[. . .] The eleven essays, introduction and afterward offered in The Civil War In Popular Culture: Memory And Meaning are each scholarly, informative and entertaining.  The perspectives and focus of the fourteen authors' essays are both broad and unique.
[. . .] Clear, concise and cogent, the essays are both incisive for the scholar and accessible to the general reader. -- Civil War Librarian

This incredibly diverse volume is composed of essays from academic historians, literary scholars, and public historians.
[M]any of these essays offer wonderful gems. -- Civil War Monitor

The Civil War in Popular Culture contains contributions from academic historians, archivists and museum coordinators, and American literature scholars, giving readers a range of voices that provide an eclectic yet coherent compilation of essays investigating how the Civil War has been commemorated, remembered, and misremembered in American popular culture since the late 1800s. -- Journal of Military History

Although published three years ago, The Civil War in Popular Culture is even more timely today, and an important read for anyone trying to sort through the current social and political controversy over the question of how do we memorialize the Civil War. -- Strategy Page