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Look Away!: A History of the Confederate States of America


Look Away!: A History of the Confederate States of America Cover


Synopses & Reviews

Publisher Comments:

William C. Davis, one of America's best Civil War historians, here offers a definitive portrait of the Confederacy unlike any that has come before. Drawing on decades of writing and research among an unprecedented number of archives, "Look Away!" tells the story of the Confederate States of America not simply as a military saga (although it is that), but rather as a full portrait of a society and incipient nation. The first history of the Confederacy in decades, the culmination of a great scholar's career, "Look Away!" combines politics, economics, and social history to set a new standard for its subject.

Previous histories have focused on familiar commanders such as Robert E. Lee and Stonewall Jackson, but Davis's canvas is much broader. From firebrand politicians like Robert Barnwell Rhett and William L. Yancey, who pushed for secession long before the public supported it; to Dr. Samuel Cartwright, who persuaded many Southerners of the natural inferiority of their slaves; to the women of Richmond, who rioted over bread shortages in 1863, Davis presents a rich new face of the Confederate nation. He recounts familiar stories of battles won and lost, but also little-known economic stories of a desperate government that socialized the salt industry, home-front stories of the rangers and marauders who preyed on their fellow Confederates, and an account of the steady breakdown of law, culminating in near anarchy in some states. Never has the Confederacy been so vividly brought to life as a full society, riven with political and economic conflicts beneath its more loudly publicized military battles.

Davis's astonishingly thorough primary research has ranged across the 800-odd newspapers that were in operation during the war, but also across the personal papers of over a hundred Southern leaders and ordinary citizens. He quotes from letters and diaries throughout the narrative, revealing the Confederacy through the words of the Confederates themselves. Like any society, especially in the early stages of nation-building and the devastating stages of warfare, the Confederacy was not one thing but many things to many people. One thing, however, was shared by all: the belief that the South offered a necessary evolution of American democracy. "Look Away!" offers a dramatic and definitive account of one of America's most searing episodes.


"This is not a 'defense' of the Confederacy but an understanding of its history as an episode of attempted nation building. An important addition to Civil War-era collections." Booklist

About the Author

William C. Davis is the author or editor of dozens of books on the Civil War, most recently An Honorable Defeat: The Last Days of the Confederate Government. He is the only three-time winner of the Jefferson Davis Prize for Confederate history. Currently the Director of Programs at the Virginia Center for Civil War Studies at Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, he lives in Blacksburg, Virginia.

Table of Contents



The Foretelling

Dixie's Land

  1. Guiding the Whirlwind

  2. Shadowy Words, Shadowy Meanings

  3. Visions of Breakers Ahead

  4. The Struggle for a Confederate Democracy

    The Opening Guns

  5. Men but Not Brothers

  6. Law and Disorder

    The Season of Lee

  7. "Proving Our Loyalty by Starvation"

  8. "We Are Done Gone Up the Spout"

    The Year of Decision

  9. The Enemy Within

  10. Cotton Communism, Whiskey Welfare, and Salt Socialism

    The Struggle to Hold On

  11. The States in Their Sovereignty

  12. The Power and the Ignominy in Richmond

  13. "Growlers & Traitors"

    An End to Valor

  14. The End?

Abbreviations Used in the Source Citations




Product Details

A History of the Confederate States of America
Davis, William C.
William C. Davis
Free Press
New York
United States - Civil War
United States - State & Local
Social conditions
Confederate states of america
United States - State & Local - General
United States / Civil War Period (1850-1877)
United States / Civil War Period (1850-1877)
History - United States/Civil War
History-United States - State & Local - General
Series Volume:
Publication Date:
Grade Level:
9.25 x 6.125 in 26.704 oz

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Related Subjects

History and Social Science » Americana » General
History and Social Science » Military » Civil War » General
History and Social Science » US History » 1800 to Civil War
History and Social Science » World History » General

Look Away!: A History of the Confederate States of America Used Hardcover
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Product details 496 pages Free Press - English 9780684865850 Reviews:
"Review" by , "This is not a 'defense' of the Confederacy but an understanding of its history as an episode of attempted nation building. An important addition to Civil War-era collections."
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