book report: Bitterly Divided (1) by David Williams

This book report is a little different for me as a blogger. I'm pulling quotes before I've finished the book. There is such a wealth of anecdotes that put to death the "Lost Cause" mystique of the Confederacy during the Civil War. Bitterly Divided: The South's Inner Civil War by David Williams wants those who think the Lost Causers make a legitimate case to hear the whole story from the letters and newspaper accounts of those who lived and suffered under secession.

Even before secession, some Southerners saw the writing on the wall regarding slavery and its effects on the South.
In The Impending Crisis of the South, published in 1857, [Hinton Rowan] Helper argued vigorously that the "lords of the lash are not only absolute masters of the blacks...but they are also the oracles and arbiters of all non-slaveholding whites, whose freedom is merely nominal." Slavery, Helper pointed out, existed for the benefit of only a very few. Its existence kept most white southerners in ignorance and poverty. The region's economic development was so retarded that it was little more than a colony of the North, providing raw materials and buying back manufactured goods. p. 23
Helper was from North Carolina. I appreciated the background on slavery and racism before the Civil War that Williams provides. It's not thorough but sufficient to provide context for the dissenting opinions expressed by felow southerners.


Martin said…
Having read, and enjoyed, "Baptized in Blood: The Religion of the Lost Cause 1865-1920" I think "Bitterly Divided" is a must read for me. Thanks for writing the review. I am putting this book on my list.

John Umland said…
Another blog reviewer of this book also recommended "The Bloody Shirt: Terror after Appomatox" by Stephen Budiansky. Its new and I haven't seen it at my local library yet but it's on my ever growing Amazon wish list, my virtual nightstand.
God is good

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