Tuesday, March 22, 2011
Book Review: Confederates in the Attic: Dispatches from the Unfinished Civil War by Tony Horwitz
I waited to read this Tony Horwitz book because I so loved his other two, and I knew this one was his most popular. Maybe my expectations were too high, as I did find it great but not as funny as the other two. Of course that might be partly because the Civil War simply doesn't lend itself to much humor. As Mr. Horwitz finds out, if you get even the tiniest bit below the surface, a lot of hurt and anger bubble up.
That said, Mr. Horwitz is a perfect host on this journey, largely because he had no relatives who fought in the war on either side (or were even in this country at the time). He has moved to the South with his Australian wife after living abroad for 20 years, and is intrigued with the South's continued obsession with the war. He travels all around the South (not in quite as organized a way as he does with the explorers in his later books) and looks into all Civil War and Confederate-related events and facts. He hooks up with a group of super reenactors, visits a lot of museums, meets with the Daughters and Sons of the Confederacy.
This book is filled with obscure facts, the truth behind various myths, and lots and lots of American history. Mr. Horwitz is an amiable companion for this trip. He laments the McDonaldsization of America, points out hypocrisies and discrepancies he comes across, and is even-handed and fair in his investigation. Personally, I was disappointed he didn't go to middle Tennessee at all where the last gasp of the Confederacy was fought, but that's a minor quibble and unlikely to both other non-Nashvillians. This book should be a must-read for Yankees who have moved South.
I requested this book from a friend at the publisher. It was provided for free, but with no expectation of any review, favorable or otherwise.