Bertram Wyatt-Brown is Richard J. Milbauer Professor of History at the University of Florida. His most recent books are The Shaping of Southern Culture: Honor, Grace, and War and the forthcoming Hearts of Darkness: Wellsprings of a Southern Literary Tradition. (October 2002)

IN THE REVIEW

Anatomy of a Murder

Blood on the Moon: The Assassination of Abraham Lincoln

by Edward Steers Jr.

Lincoln's Assassins: Their Trial and Execution

by James L. Swanson and Daniel R. Weinberg
Contrary to popular understanding, John Wilkes Booth’s assassination of Abraham Lincoln was not the handiwork of a half-mad crank and a handful of misfits. The President’s slaying “was clearly a sequel of the war,” as Allan Nevins put it, “product of its senseless hatreds, fears, and cruelties.” Yet too often historians, some of them offering only a few lines to the tragedy, have not acknowledged just how calamitous it was in changing the divided, agonized nation’s destiny.

America’s Holy War

For Cause and Comrades: Why Men Fought in the Civil War

by James M. McPherson
James M. McPherson’s For Cause and Comrades aims to resolve an enduring mystery about the Civil War. Why did the early volunteers, Northern and Southern, pick up arms in the spring of 1861 as eagerly as they did? In response to the fall of Fort Sumter, President Lincoln requisitioned troops …

Home Fires

Mothers of Invention: Women of the Slaveholding South in the American Civil War

by Drew Gilpin Faust
Thirty-five years ago, a serious study of women in the American South would probably have been ignored. In the early 1960s, Anne F. Scott’s classic, The Southern Lady, was practically the sole work on the subject to receive any notice at all. As the centennial of the Civil War approached, …

The South Against Itself

The Road to Disunion: Vol. I: Secessionists at Bay, 1776–1854

by William W. Freehling
Ken Burns’s highly popular TV series on the Civil War last year barely touched on the “cold war” between the advocates and opponents of slavery that preceded the clash of arms. Yet the tensions between North and South posed problems very much alive today, when disputes over sovereignty and separatism, …

Southern Gentleman

Tombee: Portrait of a Cotton Planter annotated with the assistance of Susan W. Walker)

(with "The Journal of Thomas B. Chaplin, 1822–1890," edited and and Theodore Rosengarten
Theodore Rosengarten’s talents were well displayed in his prize-winning book, All God’s Dangers: The Life of Nate Shaw, a biography of a twentieth-century Alabama sharecropper. He has repeated that success in Tombee, a study of a nineteenth-century low-country slaveholder. His choice of subject, however, raises the question, Why should anyone …

The Sound and the Fury

Thinking Back: The Perils of Writing History

by C. Vann Woodward
Few other American historians living today command the respect of his colleagues that C. Vann Woodward rightfully enjoys. The Sterling Professor of History Emeritus at Yale has received all the honors that the academy can offer. He won them fairly, has taken them seriously, wears them lightly. The admiration rests …