All That Makes a Man

All That Makes a Man : Love and Ambition in the Civil War South

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In May 1861, Jefferson Davis issued a general call for volunteers for the Confederate Army. Men responded in such numbers that 200,000 had to be turned away. Few of these men would have attributed their zeal to the cause of states' rights or slavery. As All That Makes a Man: Love and Ambition in the Civil War South makes clear, most southern men saw the war more simply as a test of their manhood, a chance to defend the honor of their sweethearts, fiances, and wives back home. Drawing upon diaries and personal letters, Stephen Berry seamlessly weaves together the stories of six very different men, detailing the tangled roles that love and ambition played in each man's life. Their writings reveal a male-dominated Southern culture that exalted women as "repositories of divine grace" and treasured romantic love as the platform from which men launched their bids for greatness. The exhilarating onset of war seemed to these, and most southern men, a grand opportunity to fulfill their ambition for glory and to prove their love for women-on the same field of battle. As the realities of the war became apparent, however, the letters and diaries turned from idealized themes of honor and country to solemn reflections on love and home. Elegant and poetic, All That Makes a Man recovers the emotional lives of unsung Southern men and women and reveals that the fiction of Cold Mountain mirrors a poignant reality. In their search for a cause worthy of their lives, many Southern soldiers were disappointed in their hopes for a Southern nation. But they still had their women's love, and there they would more

Product details

  • Paperback | 304 pages
  • 144.8 x 223.5 x 22.9mm | 408.24g
  • Oxford University Press Inc
  • New York, United States
  • English
  • 16 halftones & line drawings
  • 0195176286
  • 9780195176285
  • 2,041,359

Review quote

"Breathtakingly original and eloquently written, this page turner transports the reader into the intimate lives of antebellum white southerners. With empathy and wisdom, Berry makes abstractions such as love and honor as real as voting patterns and battle lines. The personal, it turns out, was political. Berry has set a new standard for writing gender history."-Glenda Gilmore, Yale University "With an elegance and intellectual breadth rarely found in a first book, All That Makes a Man provides memorable vignettes about how Southern gentlemen of the Civil War era lived, loved, and died-many of them in battle. Stephen Berry's study deeply probes the nature of manliness as they defined it for themselves. Offering fertile readings of letters, diaries, and imaginative literature, he skillfully illuminates a perilous, tragic period in regional history." -Bertram Wyatt-Brown, University of Florida "Stephen Berry's new book makes powerful contributions to Southern history, Civil War history, and gender history. But, most of all, it is a landmark achievement in historical writing. Addressed as much to the heart as to the head, it leaves an irreducible-and unforgettable-impression. The scene dazzles, the characters live, the prose sings."-John Demos, Yale University "Stephen Berry has mined the letters and diaries of Southern white men and women of the Civil War generation to explore the relationship among the competing masculine values of love and ambition, home and honor, sensitivity and stoicism. The wrenching impact of war on the tensions between the outer and inner meanings of masculinity form the central theme of this fascinating study."-James M. McPherson, Princeton University "Berry's study combines superb scholarship with a poet's love of language. From his own pen and from those of his sources, he seasons his text with turns of phrase that bring pleasure to eye, ear and tongue."-Baltimore Sunshow more

About Stephen W. Berry

Stephen W. Berry II is an Assistant Professor of History at the University of North Carolina at Pembroke. All That Makes A Man is his first more

Rating details

28 ratings
4.1 out of 5 stars
5 39% (11)
4 36% (10)
3 21% (6)
2 4% (1)
1 0% (0)
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