The Blight of History

Eric’s Foner’s review of Race and Reunion by David Blight points out a wide range of unique perspectives concerning the legacy of the Civil war from the book. One example I found particularly interesting was the absence of African Americans in most recollections. Today, we generally view the Civil War as being some sort of slave liberation mission. The fact that African Americans are barely mentioned in the story of the Civil War is a bit shocking. Through their eyes it was a chance for them to take up arms and fight for a cause they believed in. Apparently, that’s not enough to make it into the books. Not only that, the earlier years of the war was over differences in economies as opposed to a question of morality concerning slaves. It seems like details that might cause shame to one side are easily forgotten where as one that might glorify a side is over emphasized. Revelation like these has interested me to the book, and I think that anyone would benefit from a book like this. Since the Civil War is not the only event in history where the memories of it are distorted, this framework of seeing one thing from many perspectives would be a good place to start looking for other instances where this distortion has occurred.

Judging from the review, I would guess that Foner liked the book himself. Not only did he call the book persuasive but also regretted “that Blight did not try to bring it up to the present.” Foner also states that no matter how many decades have passed it is important to remember how the war was remembered. For how the war was remembered, affects the way people behave.

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