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Confederate Reckoning: Power and Politics in the Civil War South

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The story of the Confederate States of America, the proslavery, antidemocratic nation created by white Southern slaveholders to protect their property, has been told many times in heroic and martial narratives. Now, however, Stephanie McCurry tells a very different tale of the Confederate experience. When the grandiosity of Southerners' national ambitions met the harsh rea The story of the Confederate States of America, the proslavery, antidemocratic nation created by white Southern slaveholders to protect their property, has been told many times in heroic and martial narratives. Now, however, Stephanie McCurry tells a very different tale of the Confederate experience. When the grandiosity of Southerners' national ambitions met the harsh realities of wartime crises, unintended consequences ensued. Although Southern statesmen and generals had built the most powerful slave regime in the Western world, they had excluded the majority of their own people--white women and slaves--and thereby sowed the seeds of their demise. Wartime scarcity of food, labor, and soldiers tested the Confederate vision at every point and created domestic crises to match those found on the battlefields. Women and slaves became critical political actors as they contested government enlistment and tax and welfare policies, and struggled for their freedom. The attempt to repress a majority of its own population backfired on the Confederate States of America as the disenfranchised demanded to be counted and considered in the great struggle over slavery, emancipation, democracy, and nationhood. That Confederate struggle played out in a highly charged international arena. The political project of the Confederacy was tried by its own people and failed. The government was forced to become accountable to women and slaves, provoking an astounding transformation of the slaveholders' state. "Confederate Reckoning" is the startling story of this epic political battle in which women and slaves helped to decide the fate of the Confederacy and the outcome of the Civil War.


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The story of the Confederate States of America, the proslavery, antidemocratic nation created by white Southern slaveholders to protect their property, has been told many times in heroic and martial narratives. Now, however, Stephanie McCurry tells a very different tale of the Confederate experience. When the grandiosity of Southerners' national ambitions met the harsh rea The story of the Confederate States of America, the proslavery, antidemocratic nation created by white Southern slaveholders to protect their property, has been told many times in heroic and martial narratives. Now, however, Stephanie McCurry tells a very different tale of the Confederate experience. When the grandiosity of Southerners' national ambitions met the harsh realities of wartime crises, unintended consequences ensued. Although Southern statesmen and generals had built the most powerful slave regime in the Western world, they had excluded the majority of their own people--white women and slaves--and thereby sowed the seeds of their demise. Wartime scarcity of food, labor, and soldiers tested the Confederate vision at every point and created domestic crises to match those found on the battlefields. Women and slaves became critical political actors as they contested government enlistment and tax and welfare policies, and struggled for their freedom. The attempt to repress a majority of its own population backfired on the Confederate States of America as the disenfranchised demanded to be counted and considered in the great struggle over slavery, emancipation, democracy, and nationhood. That Confederate struggle played out in a highly charged international arena. The political project of the Confederacy was tried by its own people and failed. The government was forced to become accountable to women and slaves, provoking an astounding transformation of the slaveholders' state. "Confederate Reckoning" is the startling story of this epic political battle in which women and slaves helped to decide the fate of the Confederacy and the outcome of the Civil War.

30 review for Confederate Reckoning: Power and Politics in the Civil War South

  1. 5 out of 5

    Andrew

    WOW! What a complex, challenging, and intriguing book! McCurrys history sets out to examine the Confederacy with depth and perspectives not often considered elsewhere. The book starts by examining the process and structures of secession, and the formation of the Confederate government. McCurry lays bare both the thoroughly undemocratic machinery of secession, and also the unabashedly slavery-based reasoning for it, mostly through the words of leading participants. To be sure, if anyone has any d WOW! What a complex, challenging, and intriguing book! McCurrys history sets out to examine the Confederacy with depth and perspectives not often considered elsewhere. The book starts by examining the process and structures of secession, and the formation of the Confederate government. McCurry lays bare both the thoroughly undemocratic machinery of secession, and also the unabashedly slavery-based reasoning for it, mostly through the words of leading participants. To be sure, if anyone has any doubt that the call of "states rights" or "property rights" was anything other than a cover for protecting slavery, they need to read this book. While the slavery question is the main issue for the politically powerful planter class, they still needed to persuade the rest of the white male population that couldn't be excluded through electoral tricks. To this end, McCurry explores the exploitation of gender roles, and masculine and patriarch archetypes in explaining the appeals to non-slaveholding citizens (white male voters, liable to military service). Next, the role of women, particularly poor white women, in Southern society and its evolution during the war is covered. The domestic and civic roles (or lack thereof) in antebellum society are explored, and then the way that they gradually changed. The intrusive demands of the government for the service of their men, and the agricultural produce of their households, the author argues, forced these women into the public political sphere in ways they never had been before. Poor white women petitioned government officials with growing frequency, boldness, and efficacy as the war progressed and demands on themselves and their households grew. Women also took direct action in the form of threats and attacks flour mills, and in food riots in several major cities. The author delves into the level of organization and involvement these women these women resorted to in order to extract what they thought they were due from the government. Lastly, the role and experience of African Americans in the Confederacy is examined. McCurry again explores cultural and gender themes here, but her main argument is that like the women, the slaves made political influence for themselves through their actions, despite not having official political power in the form of voting (or really any other civic) rights. African American slaves actions in actively and passively resisting the war, the author argues, made (some) Confederate officials eventually recognize that the consent and will of the slaves mattered to the preservation of the Confederate state. The theme of tension between state demands for access to slaves as material to support the war effort, and slaveholders attempts to preserve their property even at the expense of the state that existed to guarantee their right to own slaves. All in all, Confederate Reckoning has some momentous things to say. It delves into the structural problems of the Confederacy on basic political and societal levels, and with a depth and honesty that is refreshing to read. That said, it's not a perfect book. The book is densely written, with long chapters that could really do with some breaking up to make absorbing the material presented easier. I also felt that the author could have done a better job tying together the broad spectrum of subjects she covered. The book read more like a series of related essays, than a cohesive body of work, to me.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Keith

    Confederate Reckoning tells the little known story of the effect southern women and slaves had on the outcome of the Civil War. While most histories recount in detail the military strategies and battles, Stephanie McCurry looks behind the Confederate lines to show how women and slaves shaped the outcome of the war and eventually forced Confederate leaders to reconsider the very reasoning behind succession and the war. McCurry does an outstanding job outlining the southern reasons for war. Their Confederate Reckoning tells the little known story of the effect southern women and slaves had on the outcome of the Civil War. While most histories recount in detail the military strategies and battles, Stephanie McCurry looks behind the Confederate lines to show how women and slaves shaped the outcome of the war and eventually forced Confederate leaders to reconsider the very reasoning behind succession and the war. McCurry does an outstanding job outlining the southern reasons for war. Their goal was to build a “modern proslavery and antidemocratic state, dedicated to the proposition that all men were not created equal.” They wanted to redefine “We the people” as “We the white people” – and if they could have, they would have disenfranchised poor white southerners. McCurry clearly sets out the motives that, for over 100 years, have been muddled by conciliatory histories, southern sympathies and ignorance: The Confederate nation was built on the idea of slavery and antidemocratic policies – in direct opposition to what they saw as the trend in the northern states. McCurry then focuses on the disenfranchised in the southern nation – women and slaves. Neither was recognized as enfranchised citizens by the Confederate government; they were either partners or property of white males. Each group, though, profoundly shaped the course of the war and the Confederate defeat. Slaves, to focus on one, played a critical role in the downfall of the south. Before succession and the war, southerners thought their slaves would be a valuable asset to fighting a war, and help offset the much larger population of the North. Their African American slaves proved them wrong. By escaping in droves to the U.S. troops, spying and sabotage, African Americans created a second battle front for southerners that weighed down their war effort and made their defeat inevitable. It’s ironic that by the end of the war, southern leaders were talking about ways to persuade slaves to be loyal. Slaves were no longer non-human automatons to be led by plantation owners, but men and women that the southerners had to win over to their cause. (However futile and delusional the idea seems.) In fact, by the end of the war, many southern leaders openly advocated offering freedom to slaves who would fight in their army, and a law was passed late in the war to make it happen. Some even discussed general emancipation for all slaves. As McCurry states, “Enslaved men and woman had managed to make their foundational political exclusion unsustainable, to make their political consent count, and to force the Confederate government to contend for their loyalty with emancipation.” (p. 351) This is a very interesting book and one I’d recommend to people interested in American history. The book does, however, repeat itself often. (I think this could have been a long article rather than a short book.) Additionally, McCurry has a strange habit of contradicting herself. For example, she says that southerners thought that slavery would strengthen their war-making ability … except those who didn’t think that. Southerners wanted to enlist slaves in the army … except those who didn’t. Granted, there wasn’t any polling then, so it is difficult to understand the mindset of the majority and differing opinions always abound.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Kidada

    I loved the book and will be assigning it this fall term. Favorite parts--argument about the need to treat the CSA as a country in its own right (and to explore its objectives, challenges, and limitations) and analysis of soldiers' wives (working class white women's engagement of the politics of subsistence to resist CSA policy) and the war the CSA fought (against enslaved people seeking freedom) from within. I loved the book and will be assigning it this fall term. Favorite parts--argument about the need to treat the CSA as a country in its own right (and to explore its objectives, challenges, and limitations) and analysis of soldiers' wives (working class white women's engagement of the politics of subsistence to resist CSA policy) and the war the CSA fought (against enslaved people seeking freedom) from within.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Ben

    McCurry describes the Confederacy as something unique: a modern, anti-democratic, pro-slavery, state. The seeds of the destruction of the Confederacy were present in its making. A state founded on the belief in and perpetuation of inequality, that did not consider slaves or women to be citizens, was forced to engage with both as political actors during the course of the war, ultimately eroding their foundational principles.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Stacy

    Wow. I was nervous. A book about Confederate politics? It’s bottom-up approach made a non desirable topic not only digestible but enjoyable. She tells about white women of all classes and slave men and how they dictated a lot of southern policy, especially towards the end of the War. The Confederacy was full of so many ironies that it is almost amazing it lasted even as long as it did. I appreciate her labeling it the ‘Confederate experiment’ because that is exactly what it was. A failed experim Wow. I was nervous. A book about Confederate politics? It’s bottom-up approach made a non desirable topic not only digestible but enjoyable. She tells about white women of all classes and slave men and how they dictated a lot of southern policy, especially towards the end of the War. The Confederacy was full of so many ironies that it is almost amazing it lasted even as long as it did. I appreciate her labeling it the ‘Confederate experiment’ because that is exactly what it was. A failed experiment. Only pompous men (slave owners at the whim of the uneducated) would think this would work. A small amount of people overreaching and speaking for too many others. I’m glad to have read it.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Ashley

    Despite the Confederate States of America’s (CSA) efforts to enshrine an exclusively white, male citizenship in its founding documents, southern women and slaves emerged as powerful political actors during the course of the Civil War. Stephanie McCurry’s well-researched, easily readable Confederate Reckoning: Power and Politics in the Civil War South, traces this development and argues that military necessity often augmented the growing political power of slaves and women. As “soldiers’ wives,” Despite the Confederate States of America’s (CSA) efforts to enshrine an exclusively white, male citizenship in its founding documents, southern women and slaves emerged as powerful political actors during the course of the Civil War. Stephanie McCurry’s well-researched, easily readable Confederate Reckoning: Power and Politics in the Civil War South, traces this development and argues that military necessity often augmented the growing political power of slaves and women. As “soldiers’ wives,” poor women embraced an identity that bound their “politics of subsistence” to the state’s obligation to its citizen-soldiers. Slaves, who formed their own understanding of the war long before emancipation, employed a variety of tactics to negate the instrumental view of slave labor enshrined in the CSA Constitution. Even though soldiers’ wives and slaves did not consider themselves allies, the persistence with which both groups entered the political sphere raised similar sets of complex questions about citizenship, consent of the governed, and the reciprocal obligations between a state and its citizenry. The CSA’s response to soldiers’ wives and slaves eventually undid the very logic of the state itself. It was precisely the official recognition of women and slaves as political actors, coupled with the implicit acknowledgement of the Confederate political system’s failure, that constitutes the “reckoning” at the heart of McCurry’s text. McCurry's book will appeal to Civil War buffs and folks interested in women's or African American history.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Kelly

    Overall, a strong piece of history. The author makes a compelling argument about the effect of the internal dilemma of the confederacy- that the demands of war forced it to make concessions to women & slaves, the two groups that were purposely excluded in its founding. Her use of international conflict works well for slave rebellions, but less so for the argument about women. A definite read for a full understanding of the civil war (and not just the military aspects)

  8. 5 out of 5

    Bfisher

    Some very interesting comments here on the empowerment of slaves and white women (especially soldiers' wives) during the war. Some very interesting comments here on the empowerment of slaves and white women (especially soldiers' wives) during the war.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Zach

    Great piece of scholarship on the Confederacy, and how it was a doomed project from the start.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Matthew Rohn

    Fantastic book focusing on Confederacy's internal conflicts based in class, democracy, gender, and slavery taking seriously the CSA as an ideologically rooted political project which had to engage in the real work of statebuilding. Deeply researched, theoretically engaging, and still accessible. Must read for anyone interested in the Civil War. Fantastic book focusing on Confederacy's internal conflicts based in class, democracy, gender, and slavery taking seriously the CSA as an ideologically rooted political project which had to engage in the real work of statebuilding. Deeply researched, theoretically engaging, and still accessible. Must read for anyone interested in the Civil War.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Jake Bos

    I quickly skimmed Confederate Reckoning in grad school, but promised myself that I would pick it up again and give it a more thorough read. I'm glad that I did. Stephanie McCurry is an exceptional writer, skilled in narrative structure and argumentative clarity. Her prose and pacing are beautiful. There's a lot to unpack here, but what really stood out to me were the ideological dimensions of the C.S.A.'s project. McCurry has a gift for finding paradox and irony within history. Sure, she explore I quickly skimmed Confederate Reckoning in grad school, but promised myself that I would pick it up again and give it a more thorough read. I'm glad that I did. Stephanie McCurry is an exceptional writer, skilled in narrative structure and argumentative clarity. Her prose and pacing are beautiful. There's a lot to unpack here, but what really stood out to me were the ideological dimensions of the C.S.A.'s project. McCurry has a gift for finding paradox and irony within history. Sure, she explores how "[w]ar transformed precisely the social and political relations it [i.e., the C.S.A.] was designed to preserve", but her observations go way beyond that. Not only did the C.S.A.'s commitment to the creation of an anti-democratic, pro-slavery nation situate it fundamentally at odds with its women and slave demographics, but McCurry also explores precisely how the C.S.A.'s ideological and foundational principles delimited their ontological assumptions - that is, how the C.S.A. perceived their world, their subjects, their property, and the very notion of possibility. For instance, their particular brand of White supremacy maintained certain assumptions about slaves and their supposedly innate abilities. Consequently, they were not prepared to handle the extent to which slaves could wield political power and function as agents of historical change. The internal contradictions at the heart of the C.S.A. worldview set their nation-building project up for failure. McCurry extends this ideological shortsightedness and naivety to the question of gender as well, and the ability for White Southern planter women and soldiers' wives to use their unique positions as political leverage. I think McCurry could have paid more attention to the role of female slaves, but I'm quite pleased with her book overall. Confederate Reckoning offers a really interesting take on the doomed Confederate project. Beyond that, it offers a cautionary warning which transcends the Civil War context itself. McCurry shows us exactly how the hateful, divisive and oppositional beliefs we hold about the world ultimately determine our activities within it, and - in this case - our undoings as well.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Samuel

    In Stephanie McCurry's eyes, the Confederate States of America was explicitly and fundamentally a nation founded upon a pro-slavery agenda (no indirect language or way around it: consequently no complexity about it either apparently). Slavery not only enslaved Africans but it also oppressed women of both races as paternalism placed white men at the top of the societal (and political) hierarchy. Slavery, by alienating the majority of the South's population, led to its own demise, as subversive ac In Stephanie McCurry's eyes, the Confederate States of America was explicitly and fundamentally a nation founded upon a pro-slavery agenda (no indirect language or way around it: consequently no complexity about it either apparently). Slavery not only enslaved Africans but it also oppressed women of both races as paternalism placed white men at the top of the societal (and political) hierarchy. Slavery, by alienating the majority of the South's population, led to its own demise, as subversive acts by slaves and women during the Civil War, which caused the whole system and the rebelling nation along with it to defeat. While she does bring up some very interesting points about women in rebellion for bread and slaves who headed across enemy lines into free territory (the latter pretty well-understood and documented by other historians), her overall grouping of these two groups is a little contrived. While she does not explicitly state that they were one in purpose, lumping black slaves and white women together as subversive agents detrimental to the Confederate cause somewhat sloppily suggests a unity of purpose and tactics when they were both very distinct undertakings with diverse motives: Confederate women had no desire for their men to lose the war whereas the vast majority of slaves were welcoming of a Union victory. There is a lot of interesting and important historical arguments throughout McCurry's book that are a huge boon to Civil War scholarship, but the overall framing of the argument as a "reckoning" seems a little more sentimental than substantiative. Clever and seductive in its claims, it falls a little short of fully convincing the reader that this is the definitive interpretation of why the Confederacy lost the War to the Union. pp. 85-309

  13. 5 out of 5

    Andee Nero

    The title of this is misleading, but in a good way. I thought this would be another Civil War political history. It is a political history, but it is more specifically a history of how ordinary Confederates engaged in politics, with an emphasis on women and slaves. I especially liked this because, while it made clear that the CSA was an evil state, it also took time to remove that bias and try to understand why so many considered seceding to create a proslavery, antidemocratic nation a good idea The title of this is misleading, but in a good way. I thought this would be another Civil War political history. It is a political history, but it is more specifically a history of how ordinary Confederates engaged in politics, with an emphasis on women and slaves. I especially liked this because, while it made clear that the CSA was an evil state, it also took time to remove that bias and try to understand why so many considered seceding to create a proslavery, antidemocratic nation a good idea, moving beyond the simple, though true, statement that these people were just a bunch of racists. Yes, obviously, they, like most 19th century white people, were racist, but there is more at play than white supremacy and McCurry does a great job of making the people of the CSA into a realistic group of people rather than an abstract entity.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Emily

    Read it for a rousing feminist defense of "Beast" Butler's infamous Gen. Order 28, if you're into that sort of thing. McCurry's argument that the rise of poor white women in the Confederacy against the oppressive policies of their governments was singular is a profoundly ahistorical reading of her chosen texts. Any reader of the trashy Outlander series can explain how the highland immigrant society valued deep kinship networks and looked to battle lords for economic support of the families of fig Read it for a rousing feminist defense of "Beast" Butler's infamous Gen. Order 28, if you're into that sort of thing. McCurry's argument that the rise of poor white women in the Confederacy against the oppressive policies of their governments was singular is a profoundly ahistorical reading of her chosen texts. Any reader of the trashy Outlander series can explain how the highland immigrant society valued deep kinship networks and looked to battle lords for economic support of the families of fighters. It's bizarre to argue that some kind of unprecedented political epiphany happened there.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Aloysius

    A good book on how the Confederate States of America, from its outset, had to contend from threats from within its borders as well as from without. From the discontent caused by the fractious and bare-knuckle procedures for secession of the 11 states to the demands of poor white women widowed by the war's demands and the unrest from slaves seeking freedom, McCurry details the stresses of war and internal contradictions that ultimately doomed the experiment that was the reactionary proslavery Sou A good book on how the Confederate States of America, from its outset, had to contend from threats from within its borders as well as from without. From the discontent caused by the fractious and bare-knuckle procedures for secession of the 11 states to the demands of poor white women widowed by the war's demands and the unrest from slaves seeking freedom, McCurry details the stresses of war and internal contradictions that ultimately doomed the experiment that was the reactionary proslavery Southern republic.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Lisa Barrett

    An engrossing and insightful book, rich in well-researched detail. The confederacy was seriously weakened by the revolt of low-income women ("soldier's wives") who took up arms against merchants and planters in multiple cities throughout the south to feed their starving families. Perhaps even more important were the insurrections by enslaved people, starting as early as 1862, and their widespread spying for the Union Army and their enlistment in the Union Army. An engrossing and insightful book, rich in well-researched detail. The confederacy was seriously weakened by the revolt of low-income women ("soldier's wives") who took up arms against merchants and planters in multiple cities throughout the south to feed their starving families. Perhaps even more important were the insurrections by enslaved people, starting as early as 1862, and their widespread spying for the Union Army and their enlistment in the Union Army.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Jason S

    This is one of the best works of social and political history that I have read recently. Clearly and vividly supported, the thesis is that class, gender, and race divisions within the Confederacy were its ultimate undoing. A powerful thesis that is well proven and is a must read for any study of the civil war.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Pamela Wetherill

    I liked this book very much. Her perspective-an analysis of the effect of disfranchised populations in the CSA on the politics of the war-is unique, timely, and well-argued. Her examination of the effects of the apartheid government conceived by wealthy planters is sobering.

  19. 5 out of 5

    AskHistorians

    Provides fresh interpretations of how the underpinning power structures of the South were subverted by the Confederate government, and the failure of the government to deal with the stresses the war caused to these power structures led to its own demise.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Ann

    McCurry's book is solid and exceptional history--a great narrative about the South during the Confederacy, and this one includes African Americans and women. McCurry's book is solid and exceptional history--a great narrative about the South during the Confederacy, and this one includes African Americans and women.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Josh

    Thought provoking. I'm still trying to swallow the idea of a slave insurrection amidst a white civil war, as analogous to Haiti with different demographics. Thought provoking. I'm still trying to swallow the idea of a slave insurrection amidst a white civil war, as analogous to Haiti with different demographics.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Ron Stafford

    A great monograph on a forgotten or rather overlooked civil war history. The women role in the civil war has long been overlooked, as well the true nature of the confederacy. Great book!

  23. 4 out of 5

    Sue

    A fantastic history of the Confederacy that includes race and gender in its analysis.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Nick Mariner

    Really. Really. Good.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Lori

    McCurry does not flinch in describing the Confederate States of America as a non-democratic nation built upon the premise that "all men are not created equal". In this respect, she presents a more clear-eyed recounting of the Southern project than many historians, who allow for the states' rights kind of nuance that probably muddies the fairly straightforward aims of the CSA. Once a population accepts that its history contains a malevolence of this order, the obvious need to do reparative work a McCurry does not flinch in describing the Confederate States of America as a non-democratic nation built upon the premise that "all men are not created equal". In this respect, she presents a more clear-eyed recounting of the Southern project than many historians, who allow for the states' rights kind of nuance that probably muddies the fairly straightforward aims of the CSA. Once a population accepts that its history contains a malevolence of this order, the obvious need to do reparative work as a means of justice becomes clear. An interesting look at how minority groups (the poor, the disenfranchised female population, and ultimately the slaves themselves) created a sociological and political reckoning for the Confederate States of America and how the CSA was destroyed from within by these forces. McCurry obviously owes a debt of gratitude to Howard Zinn, who paved the way for this kind of alternative view of history. McCurry's contention that the powerless and the disenfranchised provide the seeds of undoing for the powerful is fascinating from a sociological perspective. The extrapolation of this premise into contemporary society obviously provides a note of promise and hope in our turbulent times. It's hard to escape the notion that, to one degree or another, the American project is still under siege from the same forces that created the Civil War, and that the racism and bigotry so prevalent in the present have their roots in these old conflicts. If, as Martin Luther King, Jr. stated "the arc of history is long but bends toward justice", perhaps the messy and oftentimes hateful dialogue of today is indeed forging a path for a more inclusive society of the future.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Gmaharriet

    This is a must read for anyone with an interest in Civil War history. Unlike the hundreds of books written about the battles, the generals, Lincoln and the Union politics of abolition, this covers the internal problems that so weakened the Confederacy that winning became impossible. This details the political manipulation of the Southern voters into electing pro-secession representatives to conventions organized to decide whether to leave the Union, telling the men that it was to protect their ho This is a must read for anyone with an interest in Civil War history. Unlike the hundreds of books written about the battles, the generals, Lincoln and the Union politics of abolition, this covers the internal problems that so weakened the Confederacy that winning became impossible. This details the political manipulation of the Southern voters into electing pro-secession representatives to conventions organized to decide whether to leave the Union, telling the men that it was to protect their homes, property, women and children. With the men gone to war, the women struggled to feed themselves and became politically active in opposing the war. The slaves, who were supposed to be a resource for building military fortifications, refused to work and took every opportunity to escape to Union lines, revealing the locations of ambushes, and sabotaging the plans of the Confederate armies. Even the planters refused to support the war by resistance to sending their property (slaves) to help the military. The internal problems were so huge that the Confederate government felt like they were fighting a two-front war, the Union facing them and the opposition from the home front attacking them from behind. This book was an unusual look at the heart of the Confederacy, and a fascinating read.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Grant Erickson

    An amazing read chronicling Souther society during the Civil War that upends a lot of stereotypes about how and why succession came to pass. How a general disdain for the north led southern politicians to using in democratic methods and extreme upper class pressure to maneuver Succession, despite the unpopularity of it among the lower class white population. It then starts to evaluate how different segments of society reacted to the war years, and concentrates on the segments of Southern society An amazing read chronicling Souther society during the Civil War that upends a lot of stereotypes about how and why succession came to pass. How a general disdain for the north led southern politicians to using in democratic methods and extreme upper class pressure to maneuver Succession, despite the unpopularity of it among the lower class white population. It then starts to evaluate how different segments of society reacted to the war years, and concentrates on the segments of Southern society ignored or written off, that of women and African American slaves. How the slowly failing war allowed Southern wives and mothers used their struggles to gain a measure of political power and influence over the ruling class, something Northern women did not have, and an influence not matched in any American society until the Suffragette movement. It then goes into how the Slave population, using their own clout and influence, were able to hinder Souther strategies, and used the disdain and hatred of the White population to take control of their own destiny. A great read for both novices and experts, and for those who may not have too much interest in the battles and political aspects of the era.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Nancy Ross

    Read this while auditing the Civil War and Reconstruction class taught by the author. She has a refreshingly unorthodox take on the subject, and I really appreciate her cutting through all the nonsense about the war being about "states' rights"--the only right the southern states wanted, really, was the right to own slaves. A very good book, even if a little repetitive in the academic style. Read this while auditing the Civil War and Reconstruction class taught by the author. She has a refreshingly unorthodox take on the subject, and I really appreciate her cutting through all the nonsense about the war being about "states' rights"--the only right the southern states wanted, really, was the right to own slaves. A very good book, even if a little repetitive in the academic style.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Sandra Oldfield

    A totally different viewpoint of the true nuances that existed in the Confederacy during the war. It makes a great case that just by succeeding the south was already at a disadvantage--not because of any lost cause theory but because of their own system which held them back.

  30. 4 out of 5

    John

    (no. 49 of 2017) (four stars for the content; three stars for the writing, which is too dense and academic)

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