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Beyond the Battlefield

Race, Memory and the American Civil War

David W. Blight (author)

ISBN: 9781558493612

Publication Date: Jul 2002

Format: Paperback

This work explores how the contested memory of the Civil War has shaped American race relations. It demonstrates several ways to probe the history of memory, to understand how and why groups of Americans have constructed versions of the past in the service of contemporary social needs.
£20.50

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During the past decade and a half, scholars have increasingly addressed the relationship of history and memory. Among American historians, David W. Blight has been a pioneer in the field of memory studies, especially on the problems of slavery, race, and the Civil War. In this collection of essays, Blight examines the meanings embedded in the causes, course, and consequences of the Civil War, the nature of changing approaches to African American history, and the significance of race in the ways Americans, North and South, black and white, developed historical memories of the nation's most divisive event. The book as a whole demonstrates several ways to probe the history of memory, to understand how and why groups of Americans have constructed versions of the past in the service of contemporary social needs. Topics range from the writing and thought of Frederick Douglass and W.E.B. Du Bois to a comparison of Abraham Lincoln and Douglass on the level of language and memory. The volume also includes a compelling study of the values of a single Union soldier, an analysis of Ken Burns's PBS series The Civil War, and a retrospective treatment of the distinguished African American historian Nathan I. Huggins. Taken together, these lucidly written pieces offer a thoroughgoing assessment of the stakes of Civil War memory and their consequences for American race relations. Beyond the Battlefield demonstrates not only why we should preserve and study our Civil War battlefields, but also why we should lift our vision above those landscapes and ponder all the unfinished questions of healing and justice, of racial harmony and disharmony, that still bedevil our society and our historical imagination.

Reviews

This is a tremendous collection of essays. The author is, beyond question, the leading scholar of the collective memory of the Civil War, the leading scholar of race and collective memory, and one of the two or three leading scholars of American memory generally. - Scott A. Sandage, Carnegic Mcllon University
Pages 312
Date Published 31 Jul 2002
Publisher University of Massachusetts Press
Subject/s Cultural studies   Modern history to 20th century: c 1700 to c 1900   History of the Americas   Social theory   American Civil War  
DAVID W. BLIGHT is Class of 1959 Professor of History at Amherst College and author of Race and Reunion: The Civil War in American Memory.

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