ECW Explores the Legacy of David Blight’s Race and Reunion

Prologue to a series

Ten years ago, scholar David Blight published Race & Reunion, a game-changing book that challenged the way the Civil War has been remembered.

Blight contended that competing memories warred with each other in the decades that followed Appomattox, and ultimately, the version of the war that survives today gives short shrift to the war’s true meaning. In large part because of Blight’s work, historic interpretation in the last decade has shifted to focus more on race-related narratives of the war instead of the reconciliation narratives that focused on soldier bravery, devotion to comrades, and the horror of battle shared by both sides.

With Blight’s new book, American Oracle, recently released, ECW thought it would be a good opportunity to look back at Race & Reunion. In a week-long series beginning Monday, contributors Matt Stanley, James Broomall, Chris Mackowski, and Ashley Whitehead will examine the book, its impact, and its legacy after ten years. We look forward to your contributions, too, through our comment threads.

2 Responses to ECW Explores the Legacy of David Blight’s Race and Reunion

  1. Argh! I just got the Photographic History you mentioned a couple of weeks ago, the new Mary Chestnut will be released on October 15–I pre-ordered on amazon–and now these 2! I am fighting my own war of books here–and loving it, btw. Thanks for your excellent suggestions. It is fairly easy to find good blood-and-bugle work, but I truly appreciate your “beyond the battlefield” volumes as well.

  2. I think Blight is a must-read, which makes it sound like I’m buying into all the hype about the book. However, it really is all that it was cracked up to be—although I’m fortunate to come to the book ten years later, so it’s a little easier to see it for what it is and not as something hot and trendy.

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