Tuesday, September 17, 2019

Recent Acquisitions to My Library

I've been following the progress of Kevin Levin's latest work, Searching for Black Confederates: The Civil War's Most Persistent Myth, for a few years now on his Civil War Memory blog. I'm particularly interested in learning more about the actual roles that the enslaved played in Confederate armies and how over the years those responsibilities became conflated with being arms bearing combatants. This highly anticipated study will hopefully spur additional scholarship on this topic, as it is area of Civil War studies that has been waiting for thorough historical examinations.   

The Reconstruction era seems to be receiving more general public interest than ever before. Perhaps the recent and highly regarded Henry Louis Gates's PBS documentary, "Reconstruction: America after the Civil War," and its accompanying book, Stony the Road: Reconstruction, White Supremacy, and the Rise of Jim Crow has something to do with it. Or perhaps the recent establishment of the Reconstruction Era National Historical Park in Beaufort, South Carolina is helping create a buzz. Or maybe it has something to do with it being the sesquicentennial anniversary of the period. More likely its a combination of these things. People are finally realizing that Reconstruction is so relevant to where find ourselves today in terms of race relations. Regardless, learning about this time in our country's history is fundamental to understanding where and what we are today as a nation. Books like Virtue of Cain: From Slave to Senator, Biography of Lawrence Cain are giving us more insight than ever into the promising advances, troublesome events, and heartbreaking setbacks of Reconstruction.

Antebellum southern society seemingly offers scholars an endless supply of topics to research and write about. One that has always interested me is the happenings at popular mineral and hots springs and spas. Some of the most visited were in the hills and mountains of Virginia. Viewed as refuges from the diseases and maladies of the tidewater and low country regions, spas and springs hosted a veritable who's who among the southern elite. Ladies and Gentlemen on Display: Planter Society at the Virginia Springs, 1790-1860, promises to be an educational and enjoyable read. 

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