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(Do they in the United States either?) Turn it around: are Americans working in British history really just obliquely learning about the United States? If not, how does that case differ from European Americanists (not)studying America? Certainly the study ofAmerican cultural influence upon Europe is important, ifit can avoid being mesmerized by popular culture and doesn't deteriorate into humorless griping about American cultural hegemony. But I don't believe for a second that that's all Europeans can do, or should be doing, when diey engage with American culture. Overall, I can't help concluding diat part of the problem with Not Like Us is that the America-Europe opposition, for so long a staple in the American cultural consciousness and in American studies, is no longer what worries us or them most. Or at least Pells fails to convince me that it does. Since the 1960s, the question about who or what America is has demanded diat Americans look within— to the cultural divisions within the society rather than to how American culture relates to its parent culture in Europe. Race and ethnicity—not nationality—have become the central terms in the debate, and for many Americans European culture no longer is the parent culture. A global perspective suggests that the central cultural issue is really "the West" versus "the Rest." The differences between American and European cultures are not all that great now, merely interesting rather than existential, a prime example of what Freud referred to (in another context) as "the narcissism of small differences." Two Months in the Confederate States An Englishman's Travels Through the South By W C. Corsan, edited by Benjamin H. Trask Louisiana State University Press, 1996 216 pp. Cloth, $26.95 Reviewed by Susan H. Irons, a doctoral candidate at the Univeristy of North Carolina, Chapel Hill. Her dissertation is in the area of southern literary historiography. In conclusion, Ihave only to express a hope that theprecedingpages, exhibiting, asIhave wishedthem to do, withoutprejudice, the true state ofaffairs in the Confederate States, may cause reflecting men to ask themselves, whether it is not time that an attemptso hopeless as that ofsubjugating the South should be abandoned? Reviews 83 Benjamin H. Trask has recovered a lively voice from the past, a voice heavy with the accents of time and place. Trask's recent republication of the neglected 1863 Two Months in the Confederate States by "an English Merchant" brings to light an interesting , informative, and enjoyably readable account ofa British citizen's southern travels from October to December of 1 862. The work is valuable both as a source of firsthand information about the social and economic conditions of a defining period in die South's history and as a text diat engages late-twentiethcentury readers in the retrospective exercise of measuring the narrator's impressions and predictions against the evolution of historical events. Trask does an admirable job ofdispensing his responsibilities as editor. He has increased the value of die work tenfold through his background research and extensive footnoting of the material. The editorial decision to divide die original unbroken text into twelve chapters as well as into paragraphs increases the work's readability witiiout violating the narrator's voice. Trask respects the integrity of the work while making it more inviting to a wider range of readers. High on Trask's agenda is ascertaining the identity behind the vocational pseudonym , "an English Merchant," of the original edition. He credits the narrative to William Carson Corsan, a hardware merchant and manufacturer from Sheffield , England, whom others have also assumed, but not proven, to be the author of the travel account. Through his searching of records on both sides of die Atlantic , Trask makes a convincing argument that Corsan came to the South to check on his company's American representatives behind die northern blockade, to assess the economic health of the Confederacy, and to investigate trade possibilities within the area. When Corsan returned home, he wrote his account of the adventure, which Trask apdy sums up as "die business trip ofa lifetime." This adventurous businessman clearly worked within the traditions of nineteenth -century travel writing, organizing his account by his geographic...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1534-1488
Print ISSN
1068-8218
Pages
pp. 83-86
Launched on MUSE
2012-01-04
Open Access
No
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