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28oCIVIL WAR HISTORY New Perspectives on the Civil War: Myths and Realities of the National Conflict . Edited by John Y. Simon and Michael E. Stevens. (Madison, Wise: Madison House, 1998. Pp. xiv, 179. $27.95.) This collection of revised presentations from the State Historical Society of Wisconsin's 1995 Conference on the Civil War consists of well-researched offsprings from previous works by the authors. Not surprisingly for studies aimed at a popular audience, they are all short, clear, and highly entertaining reading. Most of the book focuses on personalities from the war, although their careers before and after may also appear. Mark E. Neely Jr. leads off the set with an argument that Lincoln and the government he led did not engage in total warfare. This piece, while similar to his excellent March 1991 article in this journal, is not as carefully qualified and could mislead a novice. The assertion that "manufacturing was of minor importance" (4) is questionable, while his agreement with Mark Grimsley's characterization of the war in Hard Hand of War (1995) deserves elaboration. For certain, Lincoln and many Northerners felt obligated to Western Civilization's code of war. Alan T Nolan's essay combatively protests the extreme idealization of Robert E. Lee by the Lost Cause movement. Nolan condemns this and the movement's other myths for perpetuating inaccurate and harmful attitudes about slavery. Some will judge that he carries his arguments rather far, as illustrated by a claim that the Confederate Constitution's ban on the slave trade was an "implicit acknowledgment that something was wrong about slavery" (32). John Y. Simon carefully and insightfully contends that Ulysses S. Grant benefited from rising through the ranks. The process gave him opportunities to experiment and learn from his errors, opportunities those who rose too quickly could not afford lest they fall as rapidly . Most senior officers' advanced age or resignations tojoin the Confederacy opened doors for mature yet flexible talents of Grant's sort. James I. Robertson Jr. portrays Stonewall Jackson as a self-disciplined, religious, and private individualist , whose eccentricities were only skin deep. Unfortunately, the essay does not have the space to apply this thesis fully to the more controversial incidents of Jackson's career. Gary W. Gallagher concludes the biographical section with an effective look at Jubal Early as an extreme conservative incensed by the Federals' hard-war policy. The last two pieces deal with large groups of people. Joseph T Glatthaar thoughtfully examines the common soldiers' initial recklessness and later deprivations . He concludes that only idealism enabled most to persevere the latter. Confederates especially wanted to protect liberty, while Federals aimed to preserve republican government. Ervin L. Jordan Jr. closes the book by vividly describing the range ofwartime behaviors, especially self-assertive ones, among Virginia's blacks. Any reader disappointed that these enjoyable studies end too soon can profitably turn to the other relevant works by the authors. John Cimprich Thomas More College ...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1533-6271
Print ISSN
0009-8078
Pages
p. 280
Launched on MUSE
2012-01-04
Open Access
No
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