Hera, February 12, 2014 (view all comments by Hera)
'Confederates in the Attic' is a joy to read . Funny ,while at the same time touching , author Tony Horwitz enters into the strange world of Civil War re-enactors . He discloses the tricks of the trade , the differences between the amateurs and the career re-enactors . Entire families compete for prized battlefield placement , authentic costumes,food and arms . Many have become extras in movies and television and the competition is fierce . Friendships are formed ,feuds begun ,in the quest for battlefield positioning . Personal lives are planned around famous battle anniversaries , camps set up ,and all connection with the present world is left behind .
BSullivan, January 1, 2011 (view all comments by BSullivan)
Horwitz knows how to bring cold stone monuments alive and into fascinating relief against a living, breathing Civil War brought down the ages and nursed in our Southern fringes. Dispensing with an historian's conceit, he artlessly jumps into the world of hard-core re-enactors and searches out primary Confederate texts, first-hand accounts, and real-life characters for a sometimes humorous but always respectful exploration of an American mindset.
Ashley Bowen, October 5, 2010 (view all comments by Ashley Bowen)
I absolutely loved this book. Frankly, I ended up picking the topic of my master's thesis after reading this a few summers back. Horwitz writes engagingly and critically of a hobby that feels uniquely American: Civil War re-enacting. The book is about much more than this hobby, however. Re-enacting is used as a way into the contemporary South and all the the cultural baggage that goes along with life in the shadow of the Confederacy. His book goes from battlefields to dead or dying factory towns in GA and AL, to meetings of the Sons of Confederate Veterans, and the halls of museums. Part travelogue, part cultural commentary Horwitz helps readers understand why re-enacting continues to captivate so many people (and confuse so many others).
RBHolb, October 31, 2006 (view all comments by RBHolb)
Four years of war seem to define the United States more than any other historical era. Our politics, our culture, our society have either been shaped by the Civil War, or are a reaction to it. The gray states have turned to red states, but the divisions are no less real than they were in the 1860s.
Tony Horwitz has done an excellent job of exploring, if not explaining, the aftershocks of the war. His own fascination with the subject lets him report without irony, even when the subjects of his reportage are downright bizarre. I recommend this book to anyone interested in the impact of historical myth.
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by USA Today,
"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."
by James McPherson, author of Battle Cry of Freedom,
"[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."
by National Review, Mark G. Malvasi,
"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."
by The New York Times Book Review, Roy Blount Jr.,
"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."
by Jonathan Yardley, The Washington Post,
by The Boston Globe, Douglas Bailey,
"[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."
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