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Confederates in the Attic: Dispatches from the Unfinished Civil Warby Tony Horwitz
Synopses & Reviews
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 his own heart.
Propelled by his boyhood passion for the Civil War, Horwitz embarks on a search for places and people still held in thrall by America's greatest conflict. The result is an adventure into the soul of the unvanquished South, where the ghosts of the Lost Cause are resurrected through ritual and remembrance.
In Virginia, Horwitz joins a band of 'hardcore' reenactors who crash-diet to achieve the hollow-eyed look of starved Confederates; in Kentucky, he witnesses Klan rallies and calls for race war sparked by the killing of a white man who brandishes a rebel flag; at Andersonville, he finds that the prison's commander, executed as a war criminal, is now exalted as a martyr and hero; and in the book's climax, Horwitz takes a marathon trek from Antietam to Gettysburg to Appomattox in the company of Robert Lee Hodge, an eccentric pilgrim who dubs their odyssey the 'Civil Wargasm.'
Written with Horwitz's signature blend of humor, history, and hard-nosed journalism, Confederates in the Attic brings alive old battlefields and new ones 'classrooms, courts, country bars' where the past and the present collide, often in explosive ways. Poignant and picaresque, haunting and hilarious, it speaks to anyone who has ever felt drawn to the mythic South and to the dark romance of the Civil War.
"In this sparkling book Horwitz explores some of our culture's myths with the irreverent glee of a small boy hurling snowballs at a beaver hat....An important contribution to understanding how echoes of the Civil War have never stopped." USA Today
"[B]y turns amusing, chilling, poignant, and always fascinating....a wonderfully piquant tale of hard-core reenactors, Scarlett O'Hara look-alikes, and people who reshape Civil War history to suit the way they wish it had come out. If you want to know why the war isn't over yet in the South, read Confederates in the Attic to find out." James McPherson, author of Battle Cry of Freedom
"A book that begins as a thoughtful and entertaining investigation of the enduring Southern fascination with the Civil War becomes an extended, and not entirely friendly or fair, survey of the racial views of white Southerners.... He is right to argue that white Southerners must exorcise the legacy of slavery and racism that has troubled the history of the South. He goes too far when he suggests that they ought also to disavow their ancestors and repudiate their past." National Review, Mark G. Malvasi
"Confederates in the Attic is the freshest book about divisiveness in America that I have read in some time....A splendid commemoration of the war and its Legacy....This rattling good read is an eyes-open, humorously no-nonsense survey of complicated Americans." The New York Times Book Review, Roy Blount Jr.
"Hilariously funny." Jonathan Yardley, The Washington Post
"[A] personal, penetrating glimpse at a slice of America many of us didn't know existed or would rather believe did not....Horwitz explores the intense fascination of the 'hard cores' with all things Civil War while coming to grips with his own, with neither judgment nor ridicule." The Boston Globe, Douglas Bailey
About the Author
Tony Horwitz first wrote about the South and the Civil War as a third-grader in Maryland when he pencilled a book that began: "The War was started when after all the states had sececed (sic)." He went on to write about war full-time as a foreign correspondent for The Wall Street Journal, reporting on conflicts in Bosnia, the Middle East, Africa, and Northern Ireland. After a decade abroad, Horwitz moved to a crossroads in the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia, where he now works as a staff writer for The New Yorker.
Confederates in the Attic is Horwitz's third book, following the national bestseller, Baghdad Without A Map and other Misadventures in Arabia, and One For The Road: Hitchhiking Through the Australian Outback, to be reissued this year by Vintage. His awards include the Pulitzer Prize for national reporting in 1995, and the Overseas Press Club Award for best foreign news reporting in 1992, for his coverage of the Gulf War. Before becoming a reporter, Horwitz lived and worked in rural Kentucky and Mississippi and produced a PBS documentary about Southern timber workers.
A graduate of Brown University and Columbia University's Graduate School of Journalism, Horwitz and his wife — Geraldine Brooks, also a journalist and author — have a young son, Nathaniel. They live in Waterford, Virginia.
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