Synopses & Reviews
In 1863, at the height of the Civil War, Frederick Douglass promised African Americans that serving in the military offered a sure path to freedom. More than 180,000 black men heeded his call to defend the Union, only to find that the path to equality would not be so straightforward.
Drawing on eye-opening firsthand accounts, Elizabeth D. Leonard restores black soldiers to their place in the arc of American history, from the Civil War and its promise of freedom up to the dawn of the twentieth century and the full retrenchment of Jim Crow. Along the way, Leonard offers a nuanced account of black soldiersand#8217; involvement in the Indian wars, their attempts to desegregate West Point and gain proper recognition for their service, and their experiences during Reconstruction, as blacks worked to secure their place in an ever-changing nation. With abundant primary research, enlivened by memorable characters and vivid descriptions of army life, Men of Color to Arms! is an illuminating portrait of a group of men whose contributions to American history, as this book abundantly demonstrates, merit a more thorough examination.
"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
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"[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
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More than 600,000 soldiers lost their lives in the American Civil War. An equivalent proportion of today's population would be six million. In This Republic of Suffering, Drew Gilpin Faust reveals the ways that death on such a scale changed not only individual lives but the life of the nation, describing how the survivors managed on a practical level and how a deeply religious culture struggled to reconcile the unprecedented carnage with its belief in a benevolent God. Throughout, the voices of soldiers and their families, of statesmen, generals, preachers, poets, surgeons, nurses, northerners and southerners come together to give us a vivid understanding of the Civil War's most fundamental and widely shared reality.
The president of Harvard University presents this innovative study of the American struggle to comprehend the meaning and consequences of death in the face of the unprecedented slaughter of the Civil War. 56 illustrations.
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.