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Confederates in the Attic : Dispatches from the Unfinished Civil War (Vintage Departures)
Confederates in the Attic Dispatches from the Unfinished Civil War - Vintage Departures
Author: Tony Horwitz
When prize-winning war correspondent Tony Horwitz leaves the battlefields of Bosnia and the Middle East for a peaceful corner of the Blue Ridge Mountains, he thinks he's put war zones behind him. But awakened one morning by the crackle of musket fire, Horwitz starts filing front-line dispatches again this time from a war close to home, and to hi...  more »
ISBN-13: 9780679758334
ISBN-10: 067975833X
Publication Date: 2/22/1999
Pages: 432
Rating:
  • Currently 4/5 Stars.
 115

4 stars, based on 115 ratings
Publisher: Vintage
Book Type: Paperback
Members Wishing: 0
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reviewed Confederates in the Attic : Dispatches from the Unfinished Civil War (Vintage Departures) on + 55 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 16
A couple years ago, I read an excerpt from this book in the New Yorker and I was fascinated by the author's half-admiring, half-incredulous account of "super hardcore" Civil War re-enactors who are obsessed with recreating the experience of a common Confederate foot soldier. For the sake of authenticity, and in the hopes of attaining a peak experience during which they feel time melting away, these guys will endure anything, including meagre rations authentic to the period; sleeping all night in the open, unprotected from insects, or in the rain or in freezing temperatures; and especially obsessed with getting their handmade, homespun clothing right, down to the grease spots, authentically oxidized buttons, etc. These guys do reenactment like it's a religious experience or at least performance art. Well, the book spends a lot of time with these guys, but it's about much, much more than that. It's a complex, fascinating look at why the Lost Cause continues to appeal to the American imagination. In parts, this book is hilarious, but it's also genuinely sympathetic in its exploration of why people remain invested in these old stories. And it's far too smart and morally complex to settle for easy nostalgia. Everywhere he goes, the author also asks Black Southerners how they feel about the whole Civil War obsession. In part, also, the book is an elegy for the rural, 19th-century south, fast giving way to the New South, as battlefields are hidden under subdivisions and the parking lots of Piggly Wigglys. All this somehow adds up to one of the best nonfiction portraits of America that I've read in a long time.
reviewed Confederates in the Attic : Dispatches from the Unfinished Civil War (Vintage Departures) on + 17 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 6
I'd love to take an adventure as Horwitz does to delve further into subjects like these (Confederate war re-enactors, post-Civil War south, etc.)
reviewed Confederates in the Attic : Dispatches from the Unfinished Civil War (Vintage Departures) on + 164 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 5
The dedication (?) page has a quote that sums up the book really well:

"Southerners are very strange about that war."
-Shelby Foote

I don't think I could do better than that with a 2000 word review. Southerners (of which I'm kind of one) are very strange about that war, and it's scary.
reviewed Confederates in the Attic : Dispatches from the Unfinished Civil War (Vintage Departures) on + 177 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 5
Great read about some people in the South's view of "the war of northern aggression" - even today! Very entertaining book!
reviewed Confederates in the Attic : Dispatches from the Unfinished Civil War (Vintage Departures) on + 40 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 2
I really got a lot out of this book. I hesitate to say 'enjoy' because some of the experiences the author endured were less than enjoyable, but the book remains relevant and is very interesting. As a living historian, I can attest to the fact that there *are* people who live the way these guys do. To walk in their shoes for a little while was enlightening, to say the least. I recommend this book.
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reviewed Confederates in the Attic : Dispatches from the Unfinished Civil War (Vintage Departures) on + 12 more book reviews
Non-fiction that is fun to read. Added a lot to my limited knowledge of the Civil War.
reviewed Confederates in the Attic : Dispatches from the Unfinished Civil War (Vintage Departures) on + 3 more book reviews
An unbelievable tour of the reenactment world. I cannot recommend this book highly enough.
reviewed Confederates in the Attic : Dispatches from the Unfinished Civil War (Vintage Departures) on + 158 more book reviews
The Civil War still rages across the South in ways both quirky and compelling. "Hardcore" reenactors crash-diet to resemble starved Confederates and spoon in ditches to stave off frostbite. A Scarlett O'Hara impersonator lifts her skirts for Japanese tourists. And Sons, Daughters and Children of the Confederacy gather to sing "Dixie" and salute the rebel flag.

Pulitzer Prize-winner Tony Horwitz takes us on a ten-state adventure, from Gettysburg to Vicksburg, from Charleston graveyards to Tennessee taverns. Probing both the history of the Civil War and its potent echo in the present, Horwitz crafts an eloquent, fast-paced, and penetrating travelogue that shows us how the Lost Cause still resonates in the memory and rituals of the South.


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