Summary: ''During the war, approximately 620,000 soldiers lost their lives. An equivalent proportion of today's population would be six million. This Republic of Suffering explores the impact of this enormous death toll from every angle: material, political, intellectual, and spiritual. Drew Gilpin Faust delineates the ways death changed not only individual lives but the life of the nation and its understanding of the rights and responsibilities of citizenship. She describes how survivors mou
rned and how a deeply religious culture struggled to reconcile the slaughter with its belief in a benevolent God, pondered who should die and under what circumstances, and reconceived its understanding of life after death.'' ''Throughout, the voices of soldiers and their families, of statesmen, generals, preachers, poets, surgeons, and nurses, of northerners and southerners, slaveholders and freedpeople, of the most exalted and the most humble are brought together to give us a vivid understanding of the Civil War's most fundamental and widely shared reality.''--BOOK JACKET.
Summary: ''During the war, approximately 620,000 soldiers lost their lives. An equivalent proportion of today's population would be six million. This Republic of Suffering explores the impact of this enormous death toll from every angle: material, political, intellectual, and spiritual. Drew Gilpin Faust delineates the ways death changed not only individual lives but the life of the nation and its understanding of the rights and responsibilities of citizenship. She describes how survivors mourned and how a deeply religious culture struggled to reconcile the slaughter with its belief in a benevolent God, pondered who should die and under what circumstances, and reconceived its understanding of life after death.'' ''Throughout, the voices of soldiers and their families, of statesmen, generals, preachers, poets, surgeons, and nurses, of northerners and southerners, slaveholders and freedpeople, of the most exalted and the most humble are brought together to give us a vivid understanding of the Civil War's most fundamental and widely shared reality.''--BOOK JACKET. ...show less
Edition/Copyright:08 Cover: Hardback Publisher:Alfrd A. Knopf, Inc. Year Published: 2008 International: No
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Drew Gilpin Faust is president of Harvard University, where she also holds the Lincoln Professorship in History.
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Preface: The work of death Mortality defines the human condition. ''We all have our deadwe all have our Graves,'' a Confederate Episcopal bishop observed in an 1862 sermon. Every era, he explained, must confront ''like miseries''; every age must search for ''like consolation.'' Yet death has its discontinuities as well. Men and women approach death in ways shaped by history, by culture, by conditions that vary over time and across space. Even though ''we all have our dead,'' and even though we all die, we do so differently from generation to generation and from place to place. In the middle of the nineteenth century, the United States embarked on a new relationship with death, entering into a civil war that proved bloodier than any other conflict in American history, a war that would presage the slaughter of World War I's Western Front and the global carnage of the twentieth century. The number of soldiers who died between 1861 and 1865, an estimated 620,000, is approximately equal to the total American fatalities in the Revolution, the War of 1812, the Mexican War, the Spanish-American War, World War I, World War II, and the Korean War combined. The Civil War's rate of death, its incidence in comparison with the size of the American population, was six times that of World War II. A similar rate, about 2 percent, in the United States today would mean six million fatalities. As the new southern nation struggled for survival against a wealthier and more populous enemy, its death toll reflected the disproportionate strains on its human capital. Confederate men died at a rate three times that of their Yankee counterparts; one in five white southern men of military age did not survive the Civil War. But these military statistics tell only a part of the story. The war killed civilians as well, as battles raged across farm and field, as encampments of troops spread epidemic disease, as guerrillas ensnared women and even children in violence and reprisals, as draft rioters targeted innocent citizens, as shortages of food in parts of the South brought starvation. No one sought to document these deaths systematically, and no one has devised a method of undertaking a retrospective count. The distinguished Civil War historian James McPherson has estimated that there were fifty thousand civilian deaths during the war, and he has concluded that the overall mortality rate for the South exceeded that of any country in World War I and that of all but the region between the Rhine and the Volga in World War II. The American Civil War produced carnage that has often been thought reserved for the combination of technological proficiency and inhumanity characteristic of a later time. The impact and meaning of the war's death toll went beyond the sheer numbers who died. Death's significance for the Civil War generation arose as well from its violation of prevailing assumptions about life's proper endabout who should die, when and where, and under what circumstances. Death was hardly unfamiliar to mid-nineteenth-century Americans. By the beginning of the 1860s the rate of death in the United States had begun to decline, although dramatic improvements in longevity would not appear until late in the century. Americans of the immediate prewar era continued to be more closely acquainted with death than are their twenty-first century counterparts. But the patterns to which they were accustomed were in significant ways different from those the war would introduce. The Civil War represented a dramatic shift in both incidence and experience. Mid-nineteenth-century Americans endured a high rate of infant mortality but expected that most individuals who reached young adulthood would survive at least into middle age. The war took young, healthy men and rapidly, often instantly
Praise for Drew Gilpin Faust'sThis Republic of Suffering ''Extraordinary . . . profoundly moving.'' Geoffrey C. Ward,The New York Times Book Review ''It's a shattering history of the war, focusing exclusively on death and dyinghow Americans prepared for death, imagined it, risked it, endured it and worked to understand it.'' Jon Wiener,LA Times Book Review ''Faust is particularly qualified to identify and explain the complex social and political implications of the changing nature of death as America's internecine conflict attained its full dimensions.'' Ian Garrick Mason,San Francisco Chronicle ''This Republic of Sufferingis one of those groundbreaking histories in which a crucial piece of the past, previously overlooked or misunderstood, suddenly clicks into focus.'' Malcolm Jones,Newsweek ''Faust is a first-rate scholar who yanks aside the usual veil of history to look narrowly at life's intimate level for new perspectives from the past. She focuses on ordinary lives under extreme duress, which makes for compelling reading.'' Don Oldenburg,USA Today ''The beauty and originality of Faust's book is that it shows how thoroughly the work of mourning became the business of capitalism, merchandised throughout a society.'' Adam Gopnik,The New Yorker ''Fascinating, innovative . . . Faust returns to the task of stripping from war any lingering romanticism, nobility or social purpose.'' Eric Foner,The Nation ''Having always kept the war in her own scholarly sights, Faust offers a compelling reassertion of its basic importance in society and politics alike.'' Richard Wrightman Fox,Slate ''[An] astonishing new book.'' Adam Kirsch,The New York Sun ''A moving work of social history, detailing how the Civil War changed perceptions and behaviors about death. . . . An illuminating study.'' Kirkus ''Penetrating . . . Faust exhumes a wealth of material . . . to flesh out her lucid account. The result is an insightful, often moving portrait of a people torn by grief.'' Publishers Weekly ''No other generation of Americans has encountered death on the scale of the Civil War generation.This Republic of Sufferingis the first study of how people in both North and South coped with this uniquely devastating experience. How did they mourn the dead, honor their sacrifice, commemorate their memory, and help their families? Drew Gilpin Faust's powerful and moving answers to these questions provide an important new dimension to our understanding of the Civil War.'' James M. McPherson, author ofThis Mighty Scourge: Perspectives on the Civil War ''During the Civil War, death reached into the world of the living in ways unknown to Americans before or since. Drew Gilpin Faust follows the carnage in all its aspects, on and off the battlefield. Timely, poignant, and profound,This Republic of Sufferingdoes the real work of history, taking us beyond the statistics until we see the faces of the fallen and understand what it was to live amid such loss and pain.'' Tony Horwitz,Confederates in the Attic: Dispatches from the Unfinished Civil War ''Drew Gilpin Faust has used her analytical and descriptive gifts to explore how men and women of the Civil War generation came to terms with the conflict's staggering human toll. Everyone who reads this book will come away with a far better under
View Table of Contents
List of Illustrations Preface: The Work of Death
1. Dying: "To Lay Down My Life"
2. Killing: "The Harder Courage"
3. Burying: "New Lessons Caring for the Dead"
4. Naming: "The Significant Word UNKNOWN"
5. Realizing: Civilians and the Work of Mourning
6. Believing and Doubting: "What Means this Carnage?"
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