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Abstract

"Memory is not a passive act," writes Caroline E. Janney in the prologue of her 2013 book Remembering the Civil War: Reunion and the Limits of Reconciliation. Rather, it is a deliberate process. Our nation‘s history has been shaped by countless hands in innumerable ways, and the story of our civil war is no exception. In Remembering the Civil War, Janney seeks to turn our eyes once again onto the players, large and small, who shaped what came to be the accepted narrative of the conflict, from its inception through the 1930s and even bleeding through the Civil Rights Era and into the present. By examining the Civil War generation and its children, Janney sheds light on the evolution of an often vitriolic and always contested Civil War memory, one jaggedly split between reunion and reconciliation, progress and precedent, image and truth. Janney‘s postwar South is not only un-Reconstructed, but un-Reconciled. The world of postwar memory construction that Janney paints for the reader is not David Blight‘s largely uncomplicated portrait of a willful reconciliation found through a common (white) racial identity. Instead, she offers a messy but intriguing alternative: the clasping of hands across the bloody chasm, but accompanied by clenched teeth and bitter resentment.

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