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Demon of the Lost Cause

Sherman and Civil War History

Wesley Moody

 
At the end of the Civil War, Union general William Tecumseh Sherman was surprisingly more popular in the newly defeated South than he was in the North. Yet, only thirty years later, his name was synonymous with evil and destruction in the South, particularly as the creator and enactor of the “total war” policy. In Demon of the Lost Cause, Wesley Moody examines these perplexing contradictions and how they and others function in past and present myths about Sherman.

 

            Throughout this fascinating study of Sherman’s reputation, from his first public servant role as the major general for the state of California until his death in 1891, Moody explores why Sherman remains one of the most controversial figures in American history. Using contemporary newspaper accounts, Sherman’s letters and memoirs, as well as biographies of Sherman and histories of his times, Moody reveals that Sherman’s shifting reputation was formed by whoever controlled the message, whether it was the Lost Cause historians of the South, Sherman’s enemies in the North, or Sherman himself.

 

With his famous “March to the Sea” in Georgia, the general became known for inventing a brutal warfare where the conflict is brought to the civilian population. In fact, many of Sherman’s actions were official tactics to be employed when dealing with guerrilla forces, yet Sherman never put an end to the talk of his innovative tactics and even added to the stories himself. Sherman knew he had enemies in the Union army and within the Republican elite who could and would jeopardize his position for their own gain. In fact, these were the same people who spread the word that Sherman was a Southern sympathizer following the war, helping to place the general in the South’s good graces. That all changed, however, when the Lost Cause historians began formulating revisions to the Civil War, as Sherman’s actions were the perfect explanation for why the South had lost.

 

 Demon of the Lost Cause reveals the machinations behind the Sherman myth and the reasons behind the acceptance of such myths, no matter who invented them. In the case of Sherman’s own mythmaking, Moody postulates that his motivation was to secure a military position to support his wife and children. For the other Sherman mythmakers, personal or political gain was typically the rationale behind the stories they told and believed.  In tracing Sherman’s ever-changing reputation, Moody sheds light on current and past understanding of the Civil War through the lens of one of its most controversial figures.

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Does God Suffer?

Thomas Weinandy, O.F.M.

The immense suffering in the modern world, especially in the light of the Holocaust, has had a profound impact on the contemporary understanding of God and his relationship to human suffering. There has been a growing acceptance that God himself suffers in solidarity and love with those who suffer. Weinandy’s comprehensive presentation resolutely challenges this view of God and suffering, arguing from scripture and from the philosophical and theological tradition of the Fathers and Aquinas. He maintains that a God who is impassible is more loving and compassionate than a suffering God. He also argues that it is the Son of God’s experience of suffering as a man that is truly redemptive and life-giving.

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Doing Recent History

On Privacy, Copyright, Video Games, Institutional Review Boards, Activist Scholarship, and History That Talks Back

Claire Bond Potter

Recent history—the very phrase seems like an oxymoron. Yet historians have been writing accounts of the recent past since printed history acquired a modern audience, and in the last several years interest in recent topics has grown exponentially. With subjects as diverse as Walmart and disco, and personalities as disparate as Chavez and Schlafly, books about the history of our own time have become arguably the most exciting and talked-about part of the discipline.

Despite this rich tradition and growing popularity, historians have engaged in little discussion about the specific methodological, political, and ethical issues related to writing about the recent past. The twelve essays in this collection explore the challenges of writing histories of recent events where visibility is inherently imperfect, hindsight and perspective are lacking, and historiography is underdeveloped.

Those who write about events that have taken place since 1970 encounter exciting challenges that are both familiar and foreign to scholars of a more distant past, including suspicions that their research is not historical enough, negotiation with living witnesses who have a very strong stake in their own representation, and the task of working with new electronic sources. Contributors to this collection consider a wide range of these challenges. They question how sources like television and video games can be better utilized in historical research, explore the role and regulation of doing oral histories, consider the ethics of writing about living subjects, discuss how historians can best navigate questions of privacy and copyright law, and imagine the possibilities that new technologies offer for creating transnational and translingual research opportunities. Doing Recent History offers guidance and insight to any researcher considering tackling the not-so-distant past.

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Droysen and the Prussian School of History

Robert Southard

The Prussian School of History first predicted and advocated, then celebrated and defended, the unification of Germany by Prussia. Experts in German historiography and the history of German liberalism have often complained about the lack of a book, in any language, that traces the origins and explains the ideas of this school of history. Here is that book.

Robert Southard finds that, for the Prussian School, history had an agenda. These historians generally expected history to complete its main tasks in their own time and country. The outcome of their politics was, really, an "end of history" -- not a cessation to historical occurrences, but a cessation of onward historical movement because the historical process had already achieved its long-term, beneficent purposes.

Leading us through the intricacies of important but untranslated works of J. G. Droysen, Max Duncker, Rudolph Hayn, and Heinrich von Sybel, Southard demonstrates their belief that the historical sequence was a continual unfolding of God's plan. Indispensable for those interested in the history of German historical writing, this book also has major implications for understanding the history of political liberalism.

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The Dunning School

Historians, Race, and the Meaning of Reconstruction

edited by John David Smith and J. Vincent Lowery. foreword by Eric Foner

From the late nineteenth century until World War I, a group of Columbia University students gathered under the mentorship of the renowned historian William Archibald Dunning (1857--1922). Known as the Dunning School, these students wrote the first generation of state studies on the Reconstruction -- volumes that generally sympathized with white southerners, interpreted radical Reconstruction as a mean-spirited usurpation of federal power, and cast the Republican Party as a coalition of carpetbaggers, freedmen, scalawags, and former Unionists.

Edited by the award-winning historian John David Smith and J. Vincent Lowery, The Dunning School focuses on this controversial group of historians and its scholarly output. Despite their methodological limitations and racial bias, the Dunning historians' writings prefigured the sources and questions that later historians of the Reconstruction would utilize and address. Many of their pioneering dissertations remain important to ongoing debates on the broad meaning of the Civil War and Reconstruction and the evolution of American historical scholarship.

This groundbreaking collection of original essays offers a fair and critical assessment of the Dunning School that focuses on the group's purpose, the strengths and weaknesses of its constituents, and its legacy. Squaring the past with the present, this important book also explores the evolution of historical interpretations over time and illuminates the ways in which contemporary political, racial, and social questions shape historical analyses.

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Economics and the Historian

Thomas G. Rawski

These essays provide a thorough introduction to economics for historians. The authors, all eminent scholars, show how to use economic thinking, economic models, and economic methods to enrich historical research. They examine such vital issues as long-term trends, institutions, labor—including an engaging dialogue between a labor historian and a labor economist—international affairs, and money and banking. Scholars and teachers of history will welcome this volume as an introduction and guide to economics, a springboard for their own research, and a lively and provocative source of collateral reading for students at every level.

The combined research experience of these authors encompasses many varieties of economics and covers a kaleidoscopic array of nations, subjects, and time periods. All are expert in presenting the insights and complexities of economics to nonspecialist audiences.

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Essays on Twentieth-Century History

In the sub-field of world history, there has been a surprising paucity of thinking and writing about how to approach and conceptualize the long twentieth century from the 1870s through the early 2000s. The historiographic essays collected in Essays on Twentieth Century History will go a long way to filling that lacuna.

 

Each contribution covers a key theme and one or more critical sub-fields in twentieth century global history. Chapters address migration patterns, the impact of world wars, transformations in gender and urbanization, as well as environmental transitions. All are written by leading historians in each of the sub-fields represented, and each is intended to provide an introduction to the literature, key themes, and debates that have proliferated around the more recent historical experience of humanity.

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The Ethical Demand

Knud Ejler Løgstrup

Knud Ejler Løgstrup’s The Ethical Demand is the most original influential Danish contribution to moral philosophy in this century. this is the first time that the complete text has been available in English translation. Originally published in 1956, it has again become the subject of widespread interest in Europe, now read in the context of the whole of Løgstrup’s work. The Ethical Demand marks a break not only with utilitarianism and with Kantianism but also with Kierkegaard’s Christian existentialism and with all forms of subjectivism. Yet Løgstrup’s project is not destructive. Rather, it is a presentation of an alternative understanding of interpersonal life. The ethical demand presupposes that all interaction between human beings involves a basic trust. Its content cannot be derived from any rule. For Løgstrup, there is not Christian morality and secular morality. There is only human morality.

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Faces of Béxar

Early San Antonio and Texas

Jesús F. De la Teja

Faces of Béxar showcases the finest work of Jesús F. de la Teja, a foremost authority on Spanish colonial Mexico and Texas through the Republic. These essays trace the arc of the author’s career over a quarter of a century. A new bibliographic essay on early San Antonio and Texas history rounds out the collection, showing where Tejano history has been, is now, and where it might go in the future.

For de la Teja, the Tejano experience in San Antonio is a case study of a community in transition, one moved by forces within and without. From its beginnings as an imperial outpost to becoming the center of another, newer empire—itself in transition—the social, political, and military history of San Antonio was central to Texas history, to say nothing of the larger contexts of Mexican and American history. Faces of Béxar explores this and more, including San Antonio's origins as a military settlement, the community's economic ties to Saltillo, its role in the fight for Mexican independence, and the motivations of Tejanos for joining Anglo Texans in the struggle for independence.

Taken together, Faces of Béxar stands to be a milestone in the growing literature on Tejano history.

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Faith and Violence

Christian Teaching and Christian Practice

Thomas Merton

In Faith and Violence, Thomas Merton offers concrete and pungent social criticisms grounded in prophetic faith about such issues as Vietnam, racism, violence, and war.

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