Academic journal article The Journal of Southern History

Confederate Cabinet Departments and Secretaries

Academic journal article The Journal of Southern History

Confederate Cabinet Departments and Secretaries

Article excerpt

Confederate Cabinet Departments and Secretaries. By Dennis L. Peterson. (Jefferson, N.C.: McFarland and Company, 2016. Pp. viii, 286. $35.00, ISBN 978-1-4766-6521-4.)

Dennis L. Peterson's Confederate Cabinet Departments and Secretaries explores a topic that has been largely unstudied in Civil War scholarship. As the author notes, of the tens of thousands of books devoted to various aspects of the Civil War, there are but three studies focused on the Confederate cabinet--the most recent of which was published in 1944. Even "people who otherwise 'know their history,'" Peterson explains, "know essentially nothing about this particular topic" (p. 2). The author's particular goal, which he outlines on the book's final page, is "to begin the process of correcting this long-neglected part of American history" so that "future scholars and history buffs will dig deeper and make these men once again household names by studying them, their beliefs, and their actions objectively" (p. 249).

Peterson divides his study into six parts--each devoted to one of the Confederacy's six cabinet posts--and twenty-five chapters. Within each part, Peterson offers a general overview of the department and a rundown of its bureaus or subdepartments, a biography of its department head, and an assessment of the department's efficacy. …

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