Week in Review: September 18-24, 2011
Welcome to the first edition of our “Week in Review.” Obviously, the big news of the week is that the CivilWarMonitor.com Web site is live and that a free digital copy of The Civil War Monitor’s premier issue has become available online. We hope you enjoy!
Civil War History in the News…
Tonight, C-SPAN is airing The Civil War: “Fighting for the Confederacy.” A preview is available here. Meanwhile, Steven Spielberg has been working on a biopic about Abraham Lincoln (starring Daniel Day-Lewis as Lincoln and Sally Fields as Mary Todd) based on Doris Kearns Goodwin’s Team of Rivals. However, he is delaying its release until after the 2012 presidential election to keep it out of the political discourse.
This past Monday, the Roger Smith Hotel (NYC), hosted a tasting of Civil War-era food—all prepared according to recipes adapted from cookbooks published between 1861 and 1865. Our friends at the Civil War History Journal recently created a new “Civil War History Historians' Forum.” And, Harry Smeltzer, one of the bloggers for The Front Line, interviewed our editor-in-chief Terry Johnston to get the behind-the-scenes scoop on The Civil War Monitor.
In our strange but true news, an eBay auction offered a Civil War-era photograph for sale, bearing an eerie resemblance to actor Nicholas Cage. To generate PR—and raise bid prices—the seller insinuated that the famous actor might actually be a vampire. The item disappeared from eBay auction before being sold.
Around the Blogosphere:
Over at “Disunion,” J. David Hacker revisits the idea that we have been undercounting the Civil War dead. Why does this matter? According to Hacker,
The new estimate suggests that more men died as a result of the Civil War than from all other American wars combined... The death toll is also one of our most important measures of the war’s social and economic costs. A higher death toll, for example, implies that more women were widowed and more children were orphaned as a result of the war than has long been suspected. In other words, the war touched more lives and communities more deeply than we thought, and thus shaped the course of the ensuing decades of American history in ways we have not yet fully grasped.
One of our Digital History Advisors, Kevin Levin, is wondering where the next Bruce Catton is? He comments that,
One of the things I find interesting is the lack of a prominent Civil War historian or literary figure, who occupies the same space as did Penn Warren, Catton, Wilson, and Baldwin. In terms of historians of that era I would also include Allan Nevins and Douglass Southall Freeman, though he died in 1953. Perhaps you disagree, but if so, I would be curious to know who you think fills those roles and speaks for our generation’s memory of the war.
At “The People’s Contest,” Matthew Robert Ishama discusses the modern-day resurgence in decoration days. He notes that these seemingly macabre efforts
literally place long-dead soldiers back on our historical map, re-situating them not just in a particular locality, but in a community in a specific time and place. Rediscovering and marking their resting places can help historians and researchers who try to reconstruct the lives of these individuals, the communities they lived in, the social networks they were a part of, and the connections with fellow soldiers that they maintained or left behind after the war.
Early Praise for The Civil War Monitor and CivilWarMonitor.com
From Jim Schmidt (one of the bloggers for The Front Line and the mastermind behind "Civil War Medicine (and Writing)"):
If the contents of the premier edition are any indication, this is going to be a GREAT publication! The feature articles were well-written, interesting, and annotated and the artwork and maps are wonderful (the premier issue included previously unpublished period photographs as well as some that I had never seen before). Most important, the articles were not re-hashes of familiar topics based on secondary sources—they were serious (but readable articles!)—about important subjects that are generally ignored, at least in the Civil War popular press.
From Keith Harris (another one of The Front Line’s bloggers and the genius behind the "Cosmic America" blog): “The multi-media onslaught is just getting started but I expect great things as the Monitor reaches out into the nation and the world.”
From Eric J. Wittenberg: “The first issue has a number of good articles, with a nice blend of tactical detail, political history, and social history. The presentation is handsome, and I’m very impressed with the first issue.”
From Andy Hall (of "Dead Confederates" and The Front Line’s blog team):
The online version went live Wednesday afternoon... It promises to be a great endeavor. I love Terry’s guiding principle for the magazine, that it would be "devoted to the belief that popular history need not be superficial or sentimental." Damn straight.
And, from our Digital History Advisor and "Civil War Memory" author Kevin Levin:
I received the premier issue on Friday and over the weekend I had a chance to read through most of it. It has met and exceeded all of my expectations. What stands out on first inspection is the quality of the paper used as well as the cover art by David A. Johnson…In the end, however, it’s the content that matters…The content clearly reflects Terry’s conviction that popular writing does not have to rehash the same tired accounts of battles and leaders. The Civil War was much more expansive and its effects much more profound. I can’t think of any other way to characterize this issue than to say, this is a smart magazine.
Those are the highlights for the week. Enjoy your weekend!
Laura June Davis, Blog & Social Media Editor
Photo Credits: deadconfederates.wordpress.com and abcnews.go.com