Confederates in the Attic

Confederates in the Attic

Book rating: 04 Paperback Vintage Departures

By (author) Tony Horwitz

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  • Publisher: Vintage Books
  • Format: Paperback | 432 pages
  • Dimensions: 130mm x 203mm x 25mm | 318g
  • Publication date: 1 November 2002
  • Publication City/Country: New York
  • ISBN 10: 067975833X
  • ISBN 13: 9780679758334
  • Edition statement: Reprint
  • Illustrations note: 2 MAPS
  • Sales rank: 109,742

Product description

Propelled by his boyhood passion for the Civil War, Horwitz embarks on a search for places and people still held in thrall by America's greatest conflict. The result is an adventure into the soul of the unvanquished South, where the ghosts of the Lost Cause are resurrected through ritual and remembrance. In Virginia, Horwitz joins a band of "hardcore" reenactors who crash-diet to achieve the hollow-eyed look of starved Confederates; in Kentucky, he witnesses Klan rallies and calls for race war sparked by the killing of a white man who brandishes a rebel flag; at Andersonville, he finds that the prison's commander, executed as a war criminal, is now exalted as a martyr and hero; and in the book's climax, Horwitz takes a marathon trek from Antietam to Gettysburg to Appomattox in the company of Robert Lee Hodge, an eccentric pilgrim who dubs their odyssey the "Civil Wargasm." Written with Horwitz's signature blend of humor, history, and hard-nosed journalism, Confederates in the Attic brings alive old battlefields and new ones - classrooms, courts, country bars - where the past and the present collide, often in explosive ways.

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Author information

Tony Horwitz first wrote about the South and the Civil War as a third-grader in Maryland when he pencilled a book that began: "The War was started when after all the states had sececed (sic)." He went on to write about war full-time as a foreign correspondent for The Wall Street Journal, reporting on conflicts in Bosnia, the Middle East, Africa, and Northern Ireland. After a decade abroad, Horwitz moved to a crossroads in the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia, where he now works as a staff writer for The New Yorker. Confederates in the Attic is Horwitz's third book, following the national bestseller, Baghdad Without A Map and other Misadventures in Arabia, and One For The Road: Hitchhiking Through the Australian Outback, to be reissued this year by Vintage. His awards include the Pulitzer Prize for national reporting in 1995, and the Overseas Press Club Award for best foreign news reporting in 1992, for his coverage of the Gulf War. Before becoming a reporter, Horwitz lived and worked in rural Kentucky and Mississippi and produced a PBS documentary about Southern timber workers. A graduate of Brown University and Columbia University's Graduate School of Journalism, Horwitz and his wife--Geraldine Brooks, also a journalist and author--have a young son, Nathaniel. They live in Waterford, Virginia.

Customer reviews

By Marianne Vincent 10 Dec 2013 4

Confederates in the Attic is the second book by American journalist and author, Tony Horwitz. Whilst much Civil War literature is likely to have the eyes of anyone but the most enthusiastic fan glazing over before too long, anyone who has read Pulitzer Prizewinning Horwitz's work may be interested enough to see what he can do with this much-written-about subject. Perhaps what he has created is not so much a book about the Civil War as a travelogue of places and people who are still affected by it. From a deep-seated childhood interest in the Civil War, Horwitz got the idea to tour the core Confederate Southern states, revisiting sites of interest and talking to people involved in commemorations and re-enactments. He meets hard-core (almost fundamentalist) enthusiasts who go to extremes for authenticity in re-enactment; he peruses collections of memorabilia and paraphernalia; he attends commemorative gatherings where he listens to Children of the Confederacy reciting the Confederate Catechism under the loving eye of Sons of Confederate Veterans and United Daughters of the Confederacy, one of whom even administers Cats of the Confederacy; he visits prison camps, cemeteries and tombs; he learns that his subject is often known as the War Between the States or the War of Northern Aggression; he talks to historians, collectors, students and everyday folk, both black and white, about what the Civil War means to them and the significance of the rebel flag; he goes on a week-long Civil Wargasm; he finds a truly integrated town; he talks to the last real Confederate widow; he dips into Gone With The Wind; and he uncovers a surprising depth of ongoing racial divide. As this book was written in the 1990s, it would be interesting to canvass these attitudes and opinions in the wake of a black president's term. This book is interesting, thought-provoking and occasionally hilarious.

Review quote

"The freshest book about divisiveness in America that I have read in some time. This splendid commemoration of the war and its legacy . . . is an eyes-open, humorously no-nonsense survey of complicated Americans." --Roy Blount Jr., "New York Times Book Review" "In this sparkling book Horwitz explores some of our culture's myths with the irreverent glee of a small boy hurling snowballs at a beaver hat. . . . An important contribution to understanding how echoes of the Civil War have never stopped." --"USA Today" Horwitz's chronicle of his odyssey through the nether and ethereal worlds of Confederatemania is by turns amusing, chilling, poignant, and always fascinating. He has found the Lost Cause and lived to tell the tale a wonderfully piquant tale of hard-core reenactors, Scarlett O'Hara look-alikes, and people who reshape Civil War history to suit the way they wish it had come out. If you want to know why the war isn't over yet in the South, read Confederates in the Attic to find out." --James McPherson, author of Battle Cry of Freedom

Flap copy

When prize-winning war correspondent Tony Horwitz leaves the battlefields of Bosnia and the Middle East for a peaceful corner of the Blue Ridge Mountains, he thinks he's put war zones behind him. But awakened one morning by the crackle of musket fire, Horwitz starts filing front-line dispatches again this time from a war close to home, and to his own heart. Propelled by his boyhood passion for the Civil War, Horwitz embarks on a search for places and people still held in thrall by America's greatest conflict. The result is an adventure into the soul of the unvanquished South, where the ghosts of the Lost Cause are resurrected through ritual and remembrance. In Virginia, Horwitz joins a band of 'hardcore' reenactors who crash-diet to achieve the hollow-eyed look of starved Confederates; in Kentucky, he witnesses Klan rallies and calls for race war sparked by the killing of a white man who brandishes a rebel flag; at Andersonville, he finds that the prison's commander, executed as a war criminal, is now exalted as a martyr and hero; and in the book's climax, Horwitz takes a marathon trek from Antietam to Gettysburg to Appomattox in the company of Robert Lee Hodge, an eccentric pilgrim who dubs their odyssey the 'Civil Wargasm.' Written with Horwitz's signature blend of humor, history, and hard-nosed journalism, Confederates in the Attic brings alive old battlefields and new ones 'classrooms, courts, country bars' where the past and the present collide, often in explosive ways. Poignant and picaresque, haunting and hilarious, it speaks to anyone who has ever felt drawn to the mythic South and to the dark romance of the Civil War.