Entertaining History: Introduction

Entertaining History-title and subtitle

from Chris Mackowski, ECW editor-in-chief:

The genesis of this project began with some research I did as part of my doctoral work on Civil War-related literature. Writer John Vernon—whose novel The Last Canyon I especially recommend—was kind enough to guide my studies and give me wide latitude with the texts I chose to explore.

That research, in turn, led to a series here at ECW titled “Telling History vs. Making Art,” which explored the relationship between—and tension between—history and creative works.

I’ve been interested in Civil War-related fiction since I first started studying the war, intrigued by the things it could teach me about the war that pure history couldn’t. Ken Burns’ The Civil War provides probably the most commonly understood example of a creative work that showed us the war in a new way, but novels, poems, movies, songs, personal essays, and other media operate in a similar way. That’s what Entertaining History tries to explore.

My sincere hope is that our book—a collective effort by some wonderful historians and writers—and our accompanying web pages help you discover something new to read, watch, or listen. May that, in turn, deepen your understanding of America’s defining event.