Weekly Recap: Feb 10

Here’s a recap of last week’s Civil War Podcast blog topics, and suggested readings for further study.

Post: The Hunley’s Hull Revealed
The legendary Confederate submarine H.L. Hunley was the first successful underwater warship that is, the first to sink an enemy ship. As chronicled in Raising the Hunley: The Remarkable History and Recovery of the Lost Confederate Submarine, the sub disappeared without a trace in 1864, crippled by a Union ship, and finding it became something of an obsession for many Americans until the vessel was finally brought to shore in 2000. Based on interviews with scientists and historians who studied the Hunley’s remains, Charleston, S.C., Post and Courier journalists Brian Hicks and Schuyler Kropf reconstruct the sub’s final voyage in this dramatic slice of Civil War history.

Post: Caroline County Events (Assassination Commemoration)
James L. Swanson’s Manhunt is a fascinating tale of murder, intrigue, and betrayal. A gripping hour-by-hour account told through the eyes of the hunted and the hunters, this is history as you’ve never read it before.

Post: Musings on a photo found at Gettysburg
Images as vast and as haunting as their subjects comprise the bulk of this collection, which accompanies a new exhibit at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Moving in roughly chronological order through the Civil War years, Met photography curator Rosenheim attentively argues that the rise of popular photography coincided with the onset of the Civil War to signify the beginning of the modern era. Examining the use of war images in newspapers and political campaigns, the sentimental obsession over portraiture by soldiers and their families, and the national mourning enacted through mass images, Rosenheim weaves the rhetorical and material realities of the war years by attaching them to the photographic image. While his explanations of changes in photographic technology and methodology are of interest primarily to specialists, the majority of the text is gracefully directed toward the images themselves. Grandiose landscapes, macabre and sobering images of the wounded, portraits startlingly bare in their sentiment—the hundreds of images carry the heft of history. The Civil War has received plenty of attention in popular publications and, increasingly, in serious academic contexts; the bald reality captured in these diverse photographs, however, manages still to add an affecting contribution to the discussion.

Post: Mary Lincoln Play at Ford’s
Called “fascinating” by Ken Burns and “spirited and fast-paced” by the Boston Globe, Mrs. Lincoln is a meticulously researched and long overdue addition to the historical record. In the words of Pulitzer-Prize winning historian Joseph Ellis, Mrs. Lincoln “is distinctive for its abiding sanity, its deft and in-depth handling of the White House years, and for the consistent quality of its prose.”

Post: Tolstoy and Lincoln
This fascinating volume brings together leading historians from around the world to explore Lincoln’s international legacy. The authors examine the meaning and image of Lincoln in many places and across continents, ranging from Germany to Japan, India to Ireland, Africa and Asia to Argentina and the American South. The book reveals that at the heart of Lincoln’s global celebrity were his political principles, his record of successful executive leadership in wartime, his role as the “Great Emancipator,” and his resolute defense of popular government. Yet the “Global Lincoln” has been a malleable and protean figure, one who is forever being redefined to meet the needs of those who invoke him.

Post: Book Review: Marching Home
Using evidence from diaries, letters, pension records, regimental histories and other sources, [Jordan] constructs a far darker narrative of veterans profoundly and permanently alienated from a civilian public that neither understood nor properly acknowledged their wartime sacrifice… Marching Home also brings into sharp relief the gulf—present in every war—that developed between soldiers and people on the home front who did not experience, and thus could not grasp, the reality of military service… Readers will find in Marching Home a powerful exploration of how some Union veterans made the transition from military service to civilian life.

Post: Black Canadians who Fought
African Canadians who had fled from the United States had not forgotten their past and eagerly sought to do their part in securing rights and liberty for all. Leaving behind their freedom in Canada, many enlisted in the Union cause. Most served as soldiers or sailors while others became recruiters, surgeons, or regimental chaplains. Entire black communities were deeply affected by this war that profoundly and irrevocably changed North American history.

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