Academic journal article Military Review

The Civil War in Popular Culture: Memory and Meaning

Academic journal article Military Review

The Civil War in Popular Culture: Memory and Meaning

Article excerpt


Edited by Lawrence A. Kreiser Jr. and Randal Allred, University Press of Kentucky, Lexington, 2014, 248

pages, $40.00

The Civil War was the bloodiest and most substantial war in American history. The country, fiercely divided by opposing political and moral conventions, embarked upon a war that would reap death and destruction for four lingering years. The war occurred 150 years ago, yet still has the ability to ignite conflict among some Americans.

The Civil War in Popular Culture is a collection of thought provoking essays that analyze how public memory and popular culture have preserved modern day perceptions of the Civil War. Editors Lawrence Kreiser and Randal Allred have drawn upon authors with various academic backgrounds to demonstrate that public memory of the war varies considerably.

The editors have focused on five major themes to represent the scholarship of the Civil War and popular culture. The themes are the aftermath of battle, reunions and battlefield preservation, remembrance over time, the Civil War in fiction and film, and the war as a modern-day hobby. The book opens with an interesting discussion of the effects of post-traumatic stress disorder on Civil War soldiers. Equally fascinating is an essay discussing Confederate amputees and the crisis they faced in defining their own manhood.

A particularly controversial essay in The Civil War in Popular Culture argues that Gettysburg, the nation's most famous Civil War battlefield, has provided the public with a historically inaccurate perception of the Civil War for years. Until recently, the battlefield was completely void of any information or teachings regarding an African-American presence at Gettysburg. …

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