Book Review: Funny Thing About the Civil War: The Humor of an American Tragedy


by Thomas F. Curran.

Jefferson, N.C.: McFarland, 2023. Pp. viii, 222. Illus., notes, biblio., index. $39.95 paper. ISBN: 1476692351

Humor and the Civil War

Dr. Curran addresses a largely neglected aspect of the Civil War – and most other history – the role of humor in the war and in later writing about it. Things like soldiers' anecdotes of amusing incidents, propaganda intended to humiliate or degrade the enemy, satirical memoirs, and more.

Curran divides these materials into three categories, items written during the war; those written after it by veterans and other eyewitnesses, and things written long after, by scholars, apologists, romantics, novelists, and others, including screenwriters. Each section contains a number of short essays, for a total of nearly thirty, bearing titles such as,

· "The Cracker Box Philosophers"

· "The Biblical Satirists"

· "The Scarlet Copperhead"

· "How I Put Down the Rebellion"

· "Uncle Remus was White"

· "An Unrenowned Warrior"

· "The Blue and Gray in Black and White, Then in Technicolor"

· "States' Rights of the Living Dead"

Each of these little essays explores a different aspect of humor about the war. No spoilers will, however, be offered by this reviewer. It's an amusing, informative book, offering insights into how people expressed their experiences in, reminiscences of, or feelings about the great national crisis, one which might serve as a useful resource for teachers trying to interest their students in the Civil War.




Note: Funny Thing About the Civil War is also available in e-editions.


StrategyPage reviews are published in cooperation with The New York Military Affairs Symposium

Reviewer: A. A. Nofi   

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