In Memoriam: Hodge on Horwitz

Hodge and Horwitz
A 1996 photo by Philip B. George of Tony Horwitz (left) and Robert Lee Hodge (right), courtesy of Rob Hodge.

“If there’s one book I’ve wished I’d written, it’s Confederates in the Attic,” I said in a 2012 post about the iconic book. It’s not only well written and well researched, but it’s an outstanding example of immersive journalism by a man passionate about letting people tell their own stories. Like so many others, I was shocked today to learn of the death of the book’s author, Tony Horwitz.

Shortly after hearing the news, I reached out to Robert Lee Hodge, the man who appears on the cover of Confederates in the Attic and who also appears as one of the book’s principle characters. Rob agreed to share a few thoughts in a phone interview, posted on ECW’s YouTube page:

Here’s Horwitz’s New York Times obituary.

From the ECW archives: James Broomall’s 2011 review of Horwitz’s book about John Brown’s Raid at Harper’s Ferry, Midnight Rising.



9 Responses to In Memoriam: Hodge on Horwitz

    1. Perhaps but I certainly didn’t get that impression at all when reading the book.

    2. I remember it as being somewhat condescending and maybe a little disingenuous. I do give him credit for immersing himself into all that as a way to understand it better.

  1. What I found interesting is Horwitz’ s desire to grapple with the complex issues that the Confederate reenactors raised. If I remember correctly (I hope) Tony’s family emigrated to America after our bloody family dispute. His cultural referents are therefore from a different place; save in the common issues of liberty, freedom and opportunity, he had no ” clan” memories. I found his enthusiasm refreshing, and nowhere as condescending as that of other more xenophobic modern urban dwellers of the North, who speak with authority about things that they do not understand, or really wish to. Safe voyage, Mr Horwitz!

  2. Soon after I heard Tony Horowitz had passed on the news this evening, I went to the ECW blog. Not surprised to see Chris has written about it and delighted to listen to his interview with Robert Lee Hodge. I’m grateful for the day that I ran across “Confederates in the Attic,” which was (I think) a great piece of literary journalism and which fueled my interest in learning more about not just the Civil War, but the soldiers and civilians caught up in the conflict and in understanding, in his own words (quoted in his New York Times obituary) the “all sorts of unresolved strife: over race, sovereignty, the sanctity of historic landscapes and who should interpret the past.” As John Pryor wrote in his comment, safe voyage Mr. Horowitz.

  3. I have read almost all of Horowitz’ books. In all of them he wrote with a condescending, jaundiced voice and presented a negative point-of-view toward the subject of his writing. I treat his books as entertainment, not serious research based writing.

  4. It’s hard to think of a more brilliant, brave, passionate, and entertaining book about Civil War memory than “Confederates in the Attic.” Horwitz wrote with more flair and insight and smarts than about 95 percent of “serious” historians. He managed to create an acclaimed best-seller that is now on university syllabi across multiple disciplines—journalism, literary nonfiction, history, American Studies. Tony found a brother from another mother in Rob Hodge and wrote about Rob’s pursuits—and their kinship—with huge affection and (as Rob himself says) compassion, laced with gimlet-eyed humor and clear-headedness. Lost Causers, almost by defnitiion, can be touchy about anything and everything, but Tony wrote about the South with love for and curiosity about its complex and wonderful history, folkways, and people, while calling out—as so many Southerners have done and still do—what needed to be called out. We’ve lost an important voice and a valuable friend.

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