Book of the Week


Belligerent Muse: Five Northern Writers and How They Shaped Our Understanding of the Civil War
by Stephen Cushman
foreword by Gary W. Gallagher

"From the lilt of Lincoln’s language to the barbs of Bierce and the pageantry of Chamberlain, Belligerent Muse takes readers into the complicated literary history of how the war was spun and how a national bloodletting transformed the writing of history and the history of writing in the United States."
--Stephen Berry, University of Georgia
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Excerpt: With a Sword in One Hand and Jomini in the Other, by Carol Reardon

Military theory is an intellectually sophisticated and complex form of cultural expression. At the start of the Civil War, the U.S. Army and the people it defended barely had begun to demonstrate an interest in developing a capacity to think about war as an element of national life. They had done little to institutionalize such study. As a consequence, when the Civil War broke out, Northerners had few resources to turn to for insights on an American way of war, and they had no choice but to look to the military classics from across a cultural divide for the intellectual authority they sought. [...]