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294CIVIL WAR HISTORY Confederates in the Attic: Dispatchesfrom the Unfinished Civil War. By Tony Horowitz. (New York: Pantheon Books, 1998. Pp. 406. $27.50.) Tony Horwitz, a Pulitzer Prize-winning correspondent, takes us ort an amazing joumey in his latest book, subtitled Dispatchesfrom the Unfinished Civil War. His infectious curiosity about the many meanings of this war's legacy (from Traveller's grave to Confederate widows, from markers and museums to memorabilia and kitsch) and his thoughtful reflections on battles, memorials, and monuments plunge readers into a fascinating tangle of issues. Horwitz's magical mystery tour of Confederama—from redneck bars at midnight to dawn pilgrimages at the Bloody Lane, from searching the Atlanta suburbs for Tara to attending public hearings on Richmond's Monument Avenue—affords a broad canvas for assessing the clash and blend of past and present. From the moment a film company invades his Blue Ridge front yard and Horwitz stumbles onto hardcore reenactors—he is hooked, off and running to explore the fascinating cultural phenomenon of the way the Civil War continues to entrance and obsess thousands of Americans, but especially those who identify with failed Rebels and their campaigns for glory. His compelling sketches of causes lost and still hard fought are layered with thick description, ripe for interpretation. His engaging portraits of encounters along the way are rich, vivid vignettes: JuneWalls (the lonely decentofCharleston's Confederate Museum), the family of Michael Westerman (a white man shot dead in his truck decorated with a Confederate flag over a Martin Luther King holiday weekend near his home in Todd County, Kentucky), Wolfgang Hochbruck (of the University of Stuttgart, who turns up on a Tennessee battlefield) and especially the author's frequent companion (and the book's cover boy), Robert Lee Hodge. Like those of the protagonist of Cold Mountain, Horwitz's travels illuminate a complex and enthralling thicket of past and present, of universal and particular , of race and region. But do not assume this is mere travelog or in any way a sentimental journey. Horwitz forces us to confront some of the hard questions connected with this quagmire we call Civil War Studies. He grapples with the human dimensions ofthose who wish to honor the dead, but perhaps not glorify the values for which they died. Horwitz on occasion allows his subjects to hoist themselves by their own petards, but he rarely trivializes or condescends. Indeed , he seeks out those with whom we feel he might be least sympathetic, like Walt, a racist anti-Semite demonstrating on behalf of the Rebel flag in South Carolina. Horwitz concludes Walt is a feisty iconoclast whom he could not help admiring, even if he was on the mailing list of every hate group in America (84). Although Horwitz examines many who are promoting exclusion, his own message is essentially inclusive. The book's arc explains how Horwitz's grandfather who fled Czarist Russia for America in the 1880s might become enthralled with books ofMatthew Brady's wartime photography, borrowing Robert BOOK REVIEWS295 Penn Warrens phrase about the ritual of being American (388-89). Horwitz brilliantly illuminates both rituals and the ambivalence of Americanness. Further , Confederates in the Attic is a terrific opportunity to introduce our students to the excitement and challenge of Civil War studies by making this wickedly good book required reading. Catherine Clinton Wofford College Alexander William Doniphan: Portrait ofa Missouri Moderate. By Roger D. Launius. (Columbia: University of Missouri Press, 1997. Pp. xiv, 316. $37.50.) As a moderate Whig, Alexander Doniphan found himself caught in the maelstrom of events as his country lurched from crisis to crisis in the 1 850s. The story of his life offers insight into the meaning ofWhiggery and the difficulties and dilemmas faced by many members of that party as their nation disintegrated into civil war. Roger Launius presents a solid biography of this outstanding Missouri leader whose public life spans the most turbulent years of the state's history, from the 1 830s through Reconstruction. Born in 1808 in Kentucky, Doniphan moved to Missouri in 1830, living most of his life in Liberty, near Kansas City. A lawyer, he became a well-known figure in the state...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1533-6271
Print ISSN
0009-8078
Pages
pp. 294-295
Launched on MUSE
2012-01-04
Open Access
No
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