Book of the Week


An Agrarian Republic: Farming, Antislavery Politics, and Nature Parks in the Civil War Era
by Adam Wesley Dean

"Adam Dean artfully and convincingly reveals the agrarian roots of not only the Republican Party, but all the major conflicts of the Civil War era. Tracing the party's political ideology to a firm belief that progress, prosperity, and civilization arose from the proper management of the nation’s soil, Dean demonstrates that debates over slavery, territorial expansion, and even nature preservation rested on notions of agricultural improvement."
--Lisa Brady, Boise State University
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Adam Wesley Dean: An Industrial North and an Agricultural South

The narrative goes something like this: an agrarian South of farmers and planters sought to resist the coming of a modern industrial economy by seceding. Even as late as 2008, the Virginia Standards of Learning listed that one of the “cultural” reasons for why the war happened was that “the North was mainly an urban society in which people held jobs,” while the South “was primarily an agricultural society.” The truth, of course, is much different. […]

Stephen Cushman: The 150th Anniversary of Probable Failure

Overshadowed, dispiriting, fretful intervals have their anniversaries, too, but they rarely get much attention, even though they took up most of the 1500 days of the war for one side or the other. […]

William A. Blair: When Silence Wasn’t Golden

There are moments in our past that occur in such a singular context that one hopes that they will provide no precedent for successive generations. This is one of those moments. […]

Glenn David Brasher: Historians’ Approach to “Lincoln”

At the Civil War Monitor, historian Glenn David Brasher reviews Steven Spielberg’s film Lincoln and argues that the film should be judged based on what it was meant to be, not what historians would like to see. […]

Elizabeth Keckley in Steven Spielberg’s “Lincoln”

Spielberg based more than 40 of his characters on historical figures; included in this group is Elizabeth Keckley, an enslaved woman whose 1868 book (Behind the Scenes, Or, Thirty Years a Slave, and Four Years in the White House) UNC Press and the UNC Library republished last year through the DocSouth Books program. […]