Eric Foner’s book review of David W. Bligh’s Race and Reunion: The Civil War in American Memory paints a picture of a very captivating and refreshingly unbiased rehash of Civil War. There are not only just two sides to a story, there are always three. Your side, my side and the truth. It is apparent that in David Bligh’s publication he has taken everyone’s opinion and beliefs into account. Anyone that would like to learn more about the Civil War and how different and colorfully portrayed one single event could take a lot from this book.
Memory from a first hand witness can be a great primary source. Unfortunately, it is nearly impossible to not write with an ‘angry pen’ when that source has been enveloped in a traumatic events. This is why it is extremely important to take on the testimonial of many people. Personally Civil War history has never appealed to me but I think that after reading the praising review I would read this book for enjoyment of knowledge, not as a task.
This book has also shown how obvious it is that historical memory is crucial. Not only does it actually tell the tale of the affair, it also shows how that tale can change over the passing of time. As the saying goes, “Time heals all wounds.” Weather this is true or not, I’m not sure but I do know that time always helps. In more recent memory, a similar situation occurred during last year’s salmonella outbreak. A class action lawsuit was filed over some rotten eggs. Proper inspection procedure were failed to be met causing some 1’500 to become fall ill. Some people didn’t care enough to follow the story, some people vaguely even knew about it and some people became so sick, they’ll probably never eat eggs again. Naturally, people of different cultures, nations and upbringings have different morals and values in life. This is where it becomes a historian’s job to sift through the diverse array of information and find the more homogeneous story.