William C Davis, One Of America S Best Civil War Historians, Here Offers A Definitive Portrait Of The Confederacy Unlike Any That Has Come Before Drawing On Decades Of Writing And Research Among An Unprecedented Number Of Archives, Look Away Tells The Story Of The Confederate States Of America Not Simply As A Military Saga Although It Is That , But Rather As A Full Portrait Of A Society And Incipient Nation The First History Of The Confederacy In Decades, The Culmination Of A Great Scholar S Career, Look Away Combines Politics, Economics, And Social History To Set A New Standard For Its Subject Previous Histories Have Focused On Familiar Commanders Such As Robert E Lee And Stonewall Jackson, But Davis S Canvas Is Much Broader From Firebrand Politicians Like Robert Barnwell Rhett And William L Yancey, Who Pushed For Secession Long Before The Public Supported It To Dr Samuel Cartwright, Who Persuaded Many Southerners Of The Natural Inferiority Of Their Slaves To The Women Of Richmond, Who Rioted Over Bread Shortages In , Davis Presents A Rich New Face Of The Confederate Nation He Recounts Familiar Stories Of Battles Won And Lost, But Also Little Known Economic Stories Of A Desperate Government That Socialized The Salt Industry, Home Front Stories Of The Rangers And Marauders Who Preyed On Their Fellow Confederates, And An Account Of The Steady Breakdown Of Law, Culminating In Near Anarchy In Some States Never Has The Confederacy Been So Vividly Brought To Life As A Full Society, Riven With Political And Economic Conflicts Beneath Its Loudly Publicized Military BattlesDavis S Astonishingly Thorough Primary Research Has Ranged Across TheOddnewspapers That Were In Operation During The War, But Also Across The Personal Papers Of Over A Hundred Southern Leaders And Ordinary Citizens He Quotes From Letters And Diaries Throughout The Narrative, Revealing The Confederacy Through The Words Of The Confederates Themselves Like Any Society, Especially In The Early Stages Of Nation Building And The Devastating Stages Of Warfare, The Confederacy Was Not One Thing But Many Things To Many People One Thing, However, Was Shared By All The Belief That The South Offered A Necessary Evolution Of American Democracy Look Away Offers A Dramatic And Definitive Account Of One Of America S Most Searing Episodes This was a slow read, but only because there was so much information to take in I was absolutely amazed at how much Davis fit into these 430 pages One of the most incredible history books I have ever read I thoroughly enjoyed it Most histories of the American Civil War are very heavily skewed towards the Northern point of view, particularly in terms of the behind the scenes political machinations and general governance of the war That makes this book all theinteresting since a lot of the information about the politics and debates and discussions within the South about secession was completely new to me, and it was refreshing to see the alternative point of view from the usual Lincoln Washington North abolition standpoint.One thing Davis is very clear on is his position on the reasons behind the war It seems to be fashionable these days to downplay the role of slavery in the secession movement to insist that whilst it may have been the catalyst, it wasn t the cause to argue that slavery was simply the most visible of the arguments, but that the real reason was States Rights Davis really delves into a lot of the resolutions and conventions and paperwork and makes it clear that slavery was front and centre, so much so that it was hardwired into the new Confederate Constitution and not even the President or the individual States had the authority to abolish it, even if they wished to.This book also brings to the forefront just how much of a contradiction the Confederacy really was He argues that the slavery planting oligarchy was the driving force behind seccession and that the entire Confederacy was designed by these very same people to benefit them above all others it was designed as a democracy that limited the power of the vast majority of the population in favour of a small minority The war also meant that in its conduct of the war the national government proceeded to trample over many of the rights and privileges that had only just been enshrined in the Constitution, the same rights and privileges that impelled many of the States to leave the Union in the first place It s a very well written book, readable and engaging, and absolutely fascinating to read I d never before realised just how contradictory the Confederacy was and how doomed it really was from the start. This book is a must read for so many of us who don t really know what the Confederacy was about, or what it stood for I know many people have a vested interest in making light of slavery, and making excuses for the Confederacy I picked up this book figuring that there must be some positive reforms that came out of the Confederacy, but as Davis tells it, the founders were selfish hypocritical rationalizers The Confederacy really was all about instituting a class of aristocrats to rule over the poor whites and oppressing the blacks The book is at its best when it deals with race issues, and the incredible lengths Confederates would go to justify their peculiar institution Despite their protests to the contrary, ultimately the South was fighting for principles that were unworkable, untenable, and even immoral, and so their cause was doomed from the start. I was a bit disappointed in this book, I bought it expecting a civil and social history of the CSA told in a somewhat chronological manner, i.e as a story Indeed, the book stats out that way, telling the story of secession and the formation of the provisional government in Mobile, but then just as as the move to Richmond is taking place and getting really interesting to a Virginian , the author changes style and for the rest of the book each chapter covers The topics and their coverage, which goes into excruciating detail, revolves around the authors central premise that Confederate democracy as born in Mobile and conceived to maintain the slave holders oligarchy was nothingthan a farce due to the inability to maintain social order and the need for socialization to maintain the war effort Virginia, is all but ignored, i suspect because there was too much social order to fit the authors premise, so to say the least i was a little upset The book is well researched and does present some interesting facts and points, I found the chapter on salt and cotton and spirits nationalization particularly interesting, but overall I am glad to have finished the book finally.
Currently professor of history at Virginia Tech, William C Davis has written over fifty books, most about the American Civil War He has won the Jefferson Davis Prize for southern history three times, the Jules F Landry Award for Southern history once, and has been twice nominated for the Pulitzer Prize.For several years, he was the editor of the magazine Civil War Times Illustrated He has also
- 484 pages
- Look Away!: A History of the Confederate States of America
- William C. Davis
- 02 September 2019 William C. Davis