Remembering The Past

David Blight’s “Race and Reunion” seems to be a very good history book because it shows that some historical evens can be remembered differently. There were two opinions on why the Civil War started. The emancipationists believed that slavery was a cause of the Civil War. The reconciliationists dismissed this thought and claimed that the Civil War happened because of the disagreement in the state rights. What i found very interesting is that the book overthrows the concept that winners always get to write history. Even though the South lost the Civil War, the reconciliationists “won the war over memory”.  I think politics probably played an important role in ensuring that the Southern view of history would prevail.

Another example in history of a shared experience that is remembered in many different ways is the origins of the Cold War. People disagree over the question of who was responsible for the breakdown of American-Soviet relations. In addition, the debate over what resulted in slavery in 17th century is another example. Some people say that  slavery was a result of white racism, while others claim that racism was a result of slavery.

I believe anyone with an interest in the Civil War will benefit from reading this book because it provides both sides of the story. It is important for people to know how history gets distorted in an absolutely unfair manner and how some books don’t speak the truth.  It is not fair when important events and people who deserve recognition are left out of the history.


Memory is More Influential than Reality

Here is an over-used quote: “History is written by the winners.” An impossible mission for the historians would be to make a politically unbiased, empirically true, and objective record on a specific event. Given the right to write about a topic without restrictions imposed by the government, which is a privilege that’s not given in many nations, historians still experience many hardships in recording a historical incident by researching on possibly distorted data and opinions. Therefore, a book on the “reality” of a historical incident, such as the civil war, could possibly just become another voice in a great debate, whose conclusion may be impossible to reach.

This is why David Blight’s “Race and Reunion: The Civil War in American Memory” might be very interesting and practical. Although Blight may avoid the challenge of searching accurate data and interpreting biased opinions, he can spend time and effort on the reactions and influences of the people with different perspectives on the war. If that’s what Blight did in his book, this book would be very beneficial to the people interested in politics.  Rather than scrutinizing the actual events, politicians may be more interested in how the events influenced the development of our system. Eric Foner has already explained why the historical memory is important: historical memory great affect the politicians when they carry out major reforms, such as racial movements and feminine movements. The book review mentioned Wilson’s action as an example of the actions taken by politicians with different perspectives. Another example of shared experiences that is remembered in different ways would be the Iraq War, in which some people is remembering it as America’s invasion of a nation for the oil, while others remember it as proper actions needed for national security.

In a nation of democracy, many memories may be political driven, and some memories are shaped by the speeches delivered by politicians. A book on the historical memories would reflect the attitudes of our citizens than a book that recorded the reality that occurred.