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book reviews311 seeWhitmanjuxtaposed against the democratic and post-war concerns ofHenry Adams, Edwin Godkin, or James Russell Lowell, than to read that suture theory "deconstructs the closure of classical narrative, seeing in that closure a key instrument of control" (128). Davis has written an interesting and well-researched book on Whitman's hospital writings. To be sure, he goes against the grain of most contemporary analyses but he offers a persuasive challenge to that thinking. With it, Whitman becomes refreshingly modem in his suggestions and representations. John S. Haller Jr. Southern Illinois University, Carbondale Over Lincoln's Shoulder: The Committee on the Conduct ofthe War. By Bruce Tap. (Lawrence: University Press of Kansas, 1998. Pp. xii, 324. $39.95.) Bom amid the turmoil of secession and Civil War, the Committee on the Conduct of the War quickly became one of the most controversial investigative committees in American history. From its creation, the committee was dominated by three Radicals: Senator BenWade ofMassachusetts, a reformer known for his political combativeness; Michigan's Senator Zachariah Chandler, an uncompromising opponent of concessions to the South; and Indiana's Representative George Julian, an early supporter of civil and political rights for African Americans. Possessing an open-ended charge with the authority to call witnesses and operating behind closed doors, the committee investigated presidential military policy, scrutinized waste and corruption, and promoted wartime propaganda. With no quorum requirements, individual members could travel to hear witnesses or proceed with hearings, practices which invited criticism. Hearings that targeted military and governmental officials and frequent leaks to the press further damaged the committee's reputation for fairness. Following the lead of contemporary critics, historians divided sharply over the effectiveness of the committee, with two interpretations emerging. T. Harry Williams's Lincoln and the Radicals ( 1 94 1 ), the first book to focus on the committee , summed up the predominant, negative view: the committee represented a powerful, fanatical, abolitionist faction whose interference consistently derailed PresidentAbraham Lincoln's wiser policies regarding both the war effort and the South. Influenced by the Civil Rights Revolution of the 1960s, Hans L. Trefousse, The Radical Republicans: Lincoln's Vanguard for Racial Justice (1968), produced the now-dominant interpretation: composed of sincere, principled reformers, the committee supported Lincoln's goals in theory if not always in fact and, in the end, had a positive effect on the Northern war effort. Convinced that previous accounts of the committee's work suffered because they were peripheral to larger studies, Bruce Tap's monograph provides a complete study of the controversial committee, its relationship to Republican policy 312CIVIL WAR HISTORY goals, and the role of Democratic members. Tap's interpretation takes a page from the Williams and Trefousse theses, but with a twist. LikeWilliams, Tap sees the committee's major failure in its attempts to wrest control of military appointments and policy from Lincoln. The dominant members openly disgusted West Point-trained generals, often linking their penchant for extensive preparation before combat with southern sympathies. In military appointments, the committee seemed to believe that antislavery credentials were more important than military training. Tap shows how the committee's interference into strictly military matters frustrated generals and shattered fragile Northem unity, ultimately harming the war effort. But following Trefousse, Tap portrays members of the committee as patriotic, sincere reformers, who had the best interests ofthe nation in mind. The committee was successful in investigating and exposing Southern war crimes, political corruption, and financial waste. Its reports on the Fort Pillow Massacre and prisoner exchanges bolstered northem perseverance, Tap maintains, while the exposure of financial corruption in military purchasing encouraged good government. Ultimately, Tap concludes, the committee's reputation falls because members deluded themselves that they were experts in areas where in actuality they were ignorant and because most of their investigations—often clearly partisan —led to no practical results. Marion B. Lucas Western Kentucky University Ashes ofGlory: Richmondat War. By Emest B. Furgurson. (New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1996. Pp. xi, 419. $30.00.) For anyone interested in the eastern theater of the Civil War, Richmond is an almost ubiquitous subject—its importance as a military objective, as an industrial , transportation, and political center, even as an emotional core...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1533-6271
Print ISSN
0009-8078
Pages
pp. 311-312
Launched on MUSE
2012-01-04
Open Access
No
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