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4 Local Warehouse US History- 1800 to Civil War
18 Remote Warehouse US History- 1800 to Civil War

This Republic of Suffering: Death and the American Civil War

by

This Republic of Suffering: Death and the American Civil War Cover

 

Review-A-Day

"[A] remarkable work — poised, moving, irrigated with the flowing voices of mid-19th-century Americans. Their journals, letters, accounts, songs, sermons and scribblings have the gravitas to reach us across 14 decades, to touch upon our own preoccupations with an unexpectedly long war and the nature of national sacrifice." Karen Long, The Cleveland Plain Dealer (read the entire Plain Dealer review)

"It was remarkable, and telling, that well-placed commentators could regard the attacks of September 11 as heralding an end of American 'innocence.' Whatever 'innocence' Americans could claim...was surely lost much earlier, in the 1860s, in the hills, woods, villages, and cornfields of their own country. During those years Americans slaughtered each other in great numbers in what we have come to call the Civil War, and as a consequence they encountered dying and death on a scale never attained before or since. That encounter, Drew Gilpin Faust tells us in her moving, disturbing, suggestive, and elegant book, would not only shock, but also transform, Americans and their nation in ways that resonate to this day." Steven Hahn, The New Republic (read the entire New Republic review)

Synopses & Reviews

Publisher Comments:

An illuminating study of the American struggle to comprehend the meaning and practicalities of death in the face of the unprecedented carnage of the Civil War.

During the war, approximately 620,000 soldiers lost their lives. An equivalent proportion of today's population would be six million. This Republic of Suffering explores the impact of this enormous death toll from every angle: material, political, intellectual, and spiritual. The eminent historian Drew Gilpin Faust delineates the ways death changed not only individual lives but the life of the nation and its understanding of the rights and responsibilities of citizenship. She describes how survivors mourned and how a deeply religious culture struggled to reconcile the slaughter with its belief in a benevolent God, pondered who should die and under what circumstances, and reconceived its understanding of life after death.

Faust details the logistical challenges involved when thousands were left dead, many with their identities unknown, on the fields of places like Bull Run, Shiloh, Antietam, and Gettysburg. She chronicles the efforts to identify, reclaim, preserve, and bury battlefield dead, the resulting rise of undertaking as a profession, the first widespread use of embalming, the gradual emergence of military graves registration procedures, the development of a federal system of national cemeteries for Union dead, and the creation of private cemeteries in the South that contributed to the cult of the Lost Cause. She shows, too, how the war victimized civilians through violence that extended beyond battlefields — from disease, displacement, hardships, shortages, emotional wounds, and conflicts connected to the disintegration of slavery.

Throughout, the voices of soldiers and their families, of statesmen, generals, preachers, poets, surgeons, and nurses, of northerners and southerners, slaveholders and freedpeople, of the most exalted and the most humble are brought together to give us a vivid understanding of the Civil War's most fundamental and widely shared reality.

Were he alive today, This Republic of Suffering would compel Walt Whitman to abandon his certainty that the "real war will never get in the books."

Review:

"Professional military men of the late 19th century were generally unimpressed by America's Civil War. 'A contest in which huge armed rabbles chased each other around a vast wilderness,' Prussian Field Marshal Helmuth von Moltke contemptuously sniffed, concluding there was nothing for the world's armies to learn from such an unmilitary spectacle that had so little to do with the established art of... Washington Post Book Review (read the entire Washington Post review)

Review:

"A moving work of social history, detailing how the Civil War changed perceptions and behaviors about death....An illuminating study." Kirkus Reviews

Review:

"Penetrating...Faust exhumes a wealth of material...to flesh out her lucid account. The result is an insightful, often moving portrait of a people torn by grief." Publishers Weekly

Review:

"No other generation of Americans has encountered death on the scale of the Civil War generation. This Republic of Suffering is the first study of how people in both North and South coped with this uniquely devastating experience. How did they mourn the dead, honor their sacrifice, commemorate their memory, and help their families? Drew Gilpin Faust's powerful and moving answers to these questions provide an important new dimension to our understanding of the Civil War." James M. McPherson, author of This Mighty Scourge: Perspectives on the Civil War

Review:

"During the Civil War, death reached into the world of the living in ways unknown to Americans before or since. Drew Gilpin Faust follows the carnage in all its aspects, on and off the battlefield. Timely, poignant, and profound, This Republic of Suffering does the real work of history, taking us beyond the statistics until we see the faces of the fallen and understand what it was to live amid such loss and pain." Tony Horowitz, Confederates in the Attic: Dispatches from the Unfinished Civil War

Review:

"Drew Gilpin Faust has used her analytical and descriptive gifts to explore how men and women of the Civil War generation came to terms with the conflict's staggering human toll. Everyone who reads this book will come away with a far better understanding of why the war profoundly affected those who lived through it." Gary W. Gallagher, author of The Confederate War

Review:

"Drew Faust's brilliant new book, This Republic of Suffering, builds profoundly from the opening discussion of the Christian ideal of the good death to the last harrowing chapters on the exhumation, partial identification, reburial and counting of the Union dead. In the end one can only conclude, as the author does, that the meaning of the Civil War lies in death itself: in its scale, relentlessness, and enduring cultural effects. This is a powerful and moving book about our nation's defining historical encounter with the universal human experience of death." Stephanie McCurry, author of Masters of Small Worlds: Yeoman Households, Gender Relations, and the Political Culture of the Antebellum South Carolina Low Country

Review:

"Whitman was wrong; the real war did get into the books. This is a wise, informed, troubling book. This Republic of Suffering demolishes sentimentalism for the Civil War in a masterpiece of research, realism, and originality." David W. Blight, author of Race and Reunion: The Civil War in American Memory

Synopsis:

Eminent historian Faust presents an illuminating study of the American struggle to comprehend the meaning and practicalities of death in the face of the unprecedented carnage of the Civil War.

About the Author

Drew Gilpin Faust is president of Harvard University, where she also holds the Lincoln Professorship in History. Dean of the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study from 2001 to 2007, she came to Harvard after twenty-five years on the faculty of the University of Pennsylvania. She is the author of five previous books, including Mothers of Invention: Women of the Slaveholding South in the American Civil War, which won the Francis Parkman Prize and the Avery Craven Prize. She and her husband live in Cambridge, Massachusetts.

Table of Contents

List of Illustrations
Preface: The Work of Death

1. Dying: "To Lay Down My Life"
2. Killing: "The Harder Courage"
3. Burying: "New Lessons Caring for the Dead"
4. Naming: "The Significant Word UNKNOWN"
5. Realizing: Civilians and the Work of Mourning
6. Believing and Doubting: "What Means this Carnage?"
7. Accounting: "Our Obligations to the Dead"
8. Numbering: "How Many? How Many?"
Epilogue: Surviving

Notes
Acknowledgments
Index

What Our Readers Are Saying

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Average customer rating based on 2 comments:

gardner, July 7, 2008 (view all comments by gardner)
This is a very good book. The professor's brilliance comes through. She has concluded about the American view of death pre civil war (the good death) and does not really consider alternatives. The in depth discussion of mourning customs is very much worth the read as is the discussion of poetry and the arts.

Overall, a great book. I would have liked more breadth in the discussion of death culture.

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(1 of 3 readers found this comment helpful)
bscheldt, March 27, 2008 (view all comments by bscheldt)
I have always loved to read books about the Civil War, but my fortee wasn't the battle and strategy side of the war. I love to read about the social aspects, how it affected the lives of people. This is one of the best books I've ever read on that view point. It goes over people's thoughts on death, how soldiers tried to prepare for death before a battle, how loved ones tried to communicate with the lost sons/fathers/brothers and how death strengthened or weakened their religious beliefs. It discusses the different ways people coped with the lose of a family member or friend, the methods of burial and how the government tried to keep track of who was lost in battle. This is probably the ultimate book on the social aspect of the Civil War! What affects people's lives more than death!?
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Product Details

ISBN:
9780375404047
Author:
Faust, Drew Gilpin
Publisher:
Knopf Publishing Group
Subject:
History
Subject:
United States - Civil War
Subject:
Death
Subject:
Death & Dying
Subject:
United States - History - Civil War, 1861-
Subject:
United States / Civil War Period (1850-1877)
Subject:
US History-1800 to Civil War
Copyright:
Publication Date:
20080131
Binding:
HARDCOVER
Grade Level:
General/trade
Language:
English
Illustrations:
56 ILLUSTRATIONS IN TEXT
Pages:
368
Dimensions:
9.28x6.62x1.35 in. 1.56 lbs.

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Related Subjects


Children's » Science Fiction and Fantasy » General
History and Social Science » Military » Civil War » General
History and Social Science » Politics » Peace and War
History and Social Science » US History » 1800 to 1945
History and Social Science » US History » 1800 to Civil War
History and Social Science » US History » 1860 to 1920
History and Social Science » World History » General

This Republic of Suffering: Death and the American Civil War New Hardcover
0 stars - 0 reviews
$29.95 In Stock
Product details 368 pages Knopf Publishing Group - English 9780375404047 Reviews:
"Review A Day" by , "[A] remarkable work — poised, moving, irrigated with the flowing voices of mid-19th-century Americans. Their journals, letters, accounts, songs, sermons and scribblings have the gravitas to reach us across 14 decades, to touch upon our own preoccupations with an unexpectedly long war and the nature of national sacrifice." (read the entire Plain Dealer review)
"Review A Day" by , "It was remarkable, and telling, that well-placed commentators could regard the attacks of September 11 as heralding an end of American 'innocence.' Whatever 'innocence' Americans could claim...was surely lost much earlier, in the 1860s, in the hills, woods, villages, and cornfields of their own country. During those years Americans slaughtered each other in great numbers in what we have come to call the Civil War, and as a consequence they encountered dying and death on a scale never attained before or since. That encounter, Drew Gilpin Faust tells us in her moving, disturbing, suggestive, and elegant book, would not only shock, but also transform, Americans and their nation in ways that resonate to this day." (read the entire New Republic review)
"Review" by , "A moving work of social history, detailing how the Civil War changed perceptions and behaviors about death....An illuminating study."
"Review" by , "Penetrating...Faust exhumes a wealth of material...to flesh out her lucid account. The result is an insightful, often moving portrait of a people torn by grief."
"Review" by , "No other generation of Americans has encountered death on the scale of the Civil War generation. This Republic of Suffering is the first study of how people in both North and South coped with this uniquely devastating experience. How did they mourn the dead, honor their sacrifice, commemorate their memory, and help their families? Drew Gilpin Faust's powerful and moving answers to these questions provide an important new dimension to our understanding of the Civil War."
"Review" by , "During the Civil War, death reached into the world of the living in ways unknown to Americans before or since. Drew Gilpin Faust follows the carnage in all its aspects, on and off the battlefield. Timely, poignant, and profound, This Republic of Suffering does the real work of history, taking us beyond the statistics until we see the faces of the fallen and understand what it was to live amid such loss and pain."
"Review" by , "Drew Gilpin Faust has used her analytical and descriptive gifts to explore how men and women of the Civil War generation came to terms with the conflict's staggering human toll. Everyone who reads this book will come away with a far better understanding of why the war profoundly affected those who lived through it."
"Review" by , "Drew Faust's brilliant new book, This Republic of Suffering, builds profoundly from the opening discussion of the Christian ideal of the good death to the last harrowing chapters on the exhumation, partial identification, reburial and counting of the Union dead. In the end one can only conclude, as the author does, that the meaning of the Civil War lies in death itself: in its scale, relentlessness, and enduring cultural effects. This is a powerful and moving book about our nation's defining historical encounter with the universal human experience of death." Stephanie McCurry, author of Masters of Small Worlds: Yeoman Households, Gender Relations, and the Political Culture of the Antebellum South Carolina Low Country
"Review" by , "Whitman was wrong; the real war did get into the books. This is a wise, informed, troubling book. This Republic of Suffering demolishes sentimentalism for the Civil War in a masterpiece of research, realism, and originality."
"Synopsis" by , Eminent historian Faust presents an illuminating study of the American struggle to comprehend the meaning and practicalities of death in the face of the unprecedented carnage of the Civil War.
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