Eric Foner’s book review of “Race and Reunion: The Civil War in American Memory”, by David W. Blight, shows that it would prove to be an interesting read. It sheds light on the fact that history should not be accepted for its face value. As Napoleon once said “History is the version of past events that people have decided to agree upon”. The result of a battle is quite simple, there is a winner and a loser; and the only side of the story that is heard is that of the victor. This creates a bias and a convenient addition/deletion of certain facts and events. The picture that results is therefore a distorted image, not an accurate representation of the actual events. The people who would most benefit from reading this book are students, for the reason that many believe that what they were taught in grammar school is the way it actually happened. This book would teach them to other half of the story, and perhaps get them to begin questioning other historical events, encouraging them to discover the truth for themselves.
An event that is remembered in many different ways is the concept of Manifest Destiny that the United States used to expand westward. Many believe that the government relocated the nation’s Native American population in a fair manner and that they agreed to actually move in the first place. This is an ideal thought but, the reality was much more brutal and violent. In reality the Native Americans were essentially told move to a designated remote location, with useless land and die there, or stay and fight the troops that would be sent to “relocate” them i.e., get slaughtered in battle. In the case of the Native Americans, the moves taken were absolutely rooted in political agenda. In the case of the North Vs. the South, the moves taken were also based in political dominance. The north wanted to erase the fact that the country had been divided so they tried to tarnish the image of the South in as many ways as possible. This included rallying the Northern voters to only vote for their politicians by “waving the bloody shirt” — reminding voters of the war — during election campaigns”, essentially guilting them into voting the way they were told. Elections may have been rigged and power was unfairly distributed, but in the end we never heard about it, because remember “we won the war”.