restricted access Editors’ Overview
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Editors’ Overview

For this special issue of Civil War History, we invited Eric T. Dean Jr. to reflect on Shook over Hell: Post-Traumatic Stress, Vietnam and the Civil War, published in 1997. Dean was the first to consider seriously the war’s lasting mental toll on veterans; although Shook over Hell is not without its critics, it remains the seminal study on this topic. As a part of his reflection, Dean also considers the evolution of war and trauma scholarship by casting a glance at the excellent work of the three articles contributed to this volume. Matthew Warshauer and Michael Sturges provide a fascinating glimpse into the complexities of the historian’s craft by discussing their difficulty in gaining access to the health records of veterans treated at the Connecticut Valley Hospital, formerly the Connecticut Hospital for the Insane. Their essay reveals the disheartening lengths to which contemporary bureaucrats will sometimes go to deny scholars access to materials for which no compelling privacy considerations exist. Diane Miller Sommerville adds to recent work by David Silkenat and others, to advance the discussion of a topic many nineteenth-century Americans regarded as disturbing: suicide. Chris Walsh looks at another stigmatized topic, cowardice, and how the fear of acting cowardly affected Americans’ behavior during the war. He refers to his work as uncovering the “shadow history” of war, and in many ways, that is what this special issue seeks to do: shed light on topics usually hidden (sometimes deliberately) in our collective past.

Our Review section reflects new and old trends within the literature of the Civil War era. Included are titles by historians Michael Perman and William J. Cooper and two recent books that explore the life, legacy, and memory of John Brown. Readers will also find reviews of books about trains, steamboats, the environment, border disputes, music and memory. [End Page 413]