by Yael A. Sternhell
Cambridge, Ma.: Harvard University Press, 2012. Pp. xii, 260.
Maps, notes, biblio., index. $49.95. ISBN: 0674064429
A unique and thought provoking look at the Civil War, and indeed all war, Prof. Sternhell (Tel Aviv) focuses not on armies and campaigns but rather on how the struggle sparked mass movements of people, and the consequences of these movements.
Stenhell opens by pointing out that at the start of the war we find unprecedented mass movements of as part of mobilization, and then, of course, in the armies as they began to campaign. By then, howeverr, large numbersof ordinary people had also begun to move, voluntarily or not, in numbers that grew as the war went on. There were Unionists fleeing persecution, refugees escaping the fighting, fugitives from slavery, prisoners of war, draft dodgers and deserters, and then, at the end, troops and refugees and exiles returning home or moving on. In Sternhell’s view, all of this movement, or perhaps ‘displacement’, had not only personal effects, but also social, political, and ultimately even cultural influence, such as helping to shape “The Lost Cause” myth.
A good book for any student of the Civil War, and an important one for those with an interest in how the war shaped modern America, which can be read with profit by any student of the nature and consequences of war, anywhen or anywhere .