Our authors continue to offer a look back at their favorite memories from 2011. Next up, Phillip Greenwalt:
As the year draws to a close and the sesquicentennial celebrations continue to happen, I am reminded of the history of a book I read this year. The author was Adam Goodheart, and his book 1861: The Civil War Awakening was about the institution of slavery and the central role that cause played in the American Civil War. But, he took a different approach, using different people—blacks, whites, rich, poor, famous, and not-so-famous—to show how the approach of the American Civil War affected them. He remarked that the beginning of the American Civil War, 1861, was the defining moment in their lives, a time as troublesome, life-changing, and drastically revealing as September 11, 2001 was for Americans today.
As the different events of 2012 will take place to commemorate what happened across the country in 1862, I think the book’s message is pertinent to all of us. Behind the battles, the famous leaders, and the causes, a defining moment changed the landscape forever—but at the time the conflict started, it was as confusing and unpleasant as the 9/11 terrorist attack was for Americans today. But, from that initial hour of darkness sprang the resolve, determination, and that metaphorical “light at the end of the tunnel” that inspired a nation to fight for their cause, whether that cause was for freedom or the maintenance of the status quo. That same feeling prevailed after that dark moment over ten years ago for the present generations of Americans.
The connection the book made was inspiring and relevant, and if you are looking for a fresh perspective on the conflict, it is definitely worth the read. Furthermore, Goodheart’s research illuminated what the coming of the war meant from the people who witnessed it and were forever changed by it. Their words, with his insight, makes this such a valued history of the beginning of the conflict.
I wish everyone a happy new year and may our paths cross, whether electronically on the blog or in real-life on some sacred piece of Civil War ground. I wish you all the best, and happy trails!