READ KINDLE ï Confederates in the Attic: Dispatches from the Unfinished Civil War â eBook or Kindle ePUB free

READ KINDLE ⚺ Confederates in the Attic: Dispatches from the Unfinished Civil War Æ 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 heartPropelled 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 remembranceIn 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 I stumbled across this book by accident It s fascinating, if often depressing I ve always maintained that if reenactors were really serious about authenticity, they d issue live ammunition Nevertheless, Horwitz, whose immigrant great grandfather became obsessed with Civil War history, also caught the bug, and when they discovered a TV crew shooting a scene in the land next to their house in Maryland, decided to investigate what makes Confederate reenactors they hate to be called that preferr I stumbled across this book by accident It s fascinating, if often depressing I ve always maintained that if reenactors were really serious about authenticity, they d issue live ammunition Nevertheless, Horwitz, whose immigrant great grandfather became obsessed with Civil War history, also caught the bug, and when they discovered a TV crew shooting a scene in the land next to their house in Maryland, decided to investigate what makes Confederate reenactors they hate to be called that preferring terms like living historians tick.Unfortunately, many of them can t get over the fact they lost Refusing to call it the Civil War they prefer War Between the States which it wasn t called at the time they revel in southern mythology which they pass along to their children in organizations like the Children of the Confederacy s catechism Yankees hate children, the kids are taught slaves revered their masters and the war had nothing to do with slavery, they just didn t want the government to tell them what to do ironic in light of southern demands that northern states enforce the Fugitive Slave Laws Just to get a few things straight 1 Nowhere in the Constitution is the right to secede mentioned it s in the Declaration of Independence 2 Southern states all said in their proclamations of secession that their reason was slavery to argue otherwise is disingenuous 3 We could refocus the debate over slavery by redefining the issue as one about property Slaves were considered property The Constitution protected property Supreme Court decisions through 1857 consistently considered slaves to be property The Founders wrote in many compromises in the Constitution to protect the rights of southern plantation owners of which they could include themselves, most of them David Blight Race and Reunion has noted that slaves by 1860 were worth about 3.5 billion, an enormous sum then and of course the southern plantation owners didn t want to give up their property The cotton business was booming and had doubled in value every decade for four decades before 1860 Ironically, one might posit that the southern states needed a strong federal government to enforce the Fugitive Slave Acts and it was states like Wisconsin and Pennsylvania who insisted on states rights by passing laws making enforcement of federal Fugitive Slave laws difficult Southern states, in their declarations of secession documents, said the reason for secession was their desire to protect slavery see South Carolina and Georgia esp., which also makes reference to slaves as property and their constitutional right thereto Slavery and race have sullied this country for centuries to whitewash it is rather sickening As Bernard Malamud wrote in The Fixer There s something cursed, it seems to me, about a country where men have owned men as property The stink of that corruption never escapes the soul, and it is the stink of future evil A constant theme is the power of symbols and nothing illustrates thatthan his dispassionate recounting of the killing of Michael Westerman in Guthrie, Kentucky Westerman was out driving in his red truck with a large rebel flag flying from the back What the flag meant to those involved was far less important than what it meant to those who used Michael s death as a rallying cry for their own particular agenda or hatred Horwitz s interviews reveal that Michael liked the battle flag simply because it matched his truck To the kid who shot him, clearly unintentional through the side of his truck as they raced along the highway at 85 mph, it was only a symbol of the white bullies in town Michael s glorification he has his own tribute website was not what Horwitz heard from others in town when he interviewed them Much of the town s reverence for the battle flag seemed to be exacerbated by the school board s wish to change the mascot the Rebel, which served only to inflame teams they had to play Ironically, Guthrie, in Todd County, Kentucky was on the Union side during the Civil War In a further irony, Freddie Morrow who did the shooting, was sent to prison for life plus an extra four years for violating Westerman s civil rights More recently, the power of that symbol was demonstrated when that kid shot up the black church killing several people and calls have echoed throughout the south for and against removal of confederate symbols.Lots of interesting stories.Horwitz writes well, with compassion, and with humor My wife thought the book we listened to it together was a bit reminiscent of Bill Bryson I agree he has the same sense of irony that has you smile except that in the case of this book that smile is followed by a quick grimace rather than a broad grin Note that his interview with Shelby Foote is worth the price of the book.Favorite quote Charlestonian Baptists were so religious they wouldn t fuck standing up for fear someone might think they were dancing Losing weight was a hardcore obsession, part of the never ending quest for authenticity among Civil War reenactors If you look at pension records, you realize that very few Civil War soldiers weighedthan a hundred thirty five pounds, Rob Hodge explained Southern soldiers were especially lean So it was every Guardsman s dream to drop a few pants sizes and achieve the gaunt, hollow eyed look of underfed Confederates Rob had lost thirty five pounds over the past year, leaving littl Losing weight was a hardcore obsession, part of the never ending quest for authenticity among Civil War reenactors If you look at pension records, you realize that very few Civil War soldiers weighedthan a hundred thirty five pounds, Rob Hodge explained Southern soldiers were especially lean So it was every Guardsman s dream to drop a few pants sizes and achieve the gaunt, hollow eyed look of underfed Confederates Rob had lost thirty five pounds over the past year, leaving little or no meat on his six foot two frame Joel, a construction worker, had dropped eighty five pounds, losing what he called his keg legs and slimming his beer bellied waist from forty inches to thirty The Civil War s over, but the battle of the Bulge never ends, he quipped, offering Rob a Pritikin recipe for skinless breast of chicken Tony Horwitz, Confederates in the Attic Dispatches from the Unfinished Civil WarWhen I was in first or second grade, I started creating books about American history the Revolution, World War II, and of course the Civil War These books had no texts, only pictures, extremely graphic pictures that today would probably get me invited to the psychiatrist s office They were constructed in a bit of genius, I might add out of large, rectangular pads of Norwest Bank forms, supplied by my dad I would take the pad and turn it upside down, using the cardboard back as a cover, and the blank sides of the forms as pages Voila On one side, you have a commercial lending document On the other, a six year old s vivid rendering of the Devil s Den at Gettysburg, with heavy emphasis supplied by a red crayon Later, when I was able to construct complete sentences a skill I am still developing , I started hand writing historical novels The problem with writing by hand, of course, is that your hand cannot keep up with your mind One day, in this era before personal computers, my dad took me to his office to use his word processor We spent the entire day, there, as I poured my imagination onto the page It was an epic of the Civil War and westward expansion, featuring clashes between opposing armies, skirmishes between cavalrymen and Indians, nasty outlaws, tornadoes, wildfires, and swollen rivers there was also a lot of onomatopoeia, because nothing gives you a better understanding of a gunfight than BANGWhen I finished my opus, it was four pages long I was exhausted I never outgrew my hobby for churning out bad historical fiction To this day, I am working on a project known in my family as dad s book It s up to sixteen hundred single spaced pages, and nowhere near complete My kids often ask when it ll be done, and I tell them someday, even though it probably won t ever reach a conclusion Finishing has never been the point, though I don t have commercial aspirations for my writing Instead, writing has always been a way for me to connect with history, the great passion and interest of my life Creating a character and placing him or her in a historical context requires you to develop empathy across the span of decades and centuries It has led me to find answers to questions about ordinary people, many of those questions and answers pertaining to bathroom use It has broadened my imagination beyond the inert cannons and marble busts that dot most battlefields.Why am I telling you this, other than to erase any lingering doubts you might have as to whether I should seek help from a therapist It s because I like to think perhaps flattering myself that I have something in common with the Civil War reenactors who spurred Tony Horwitz to write Confederates in the Attic Horwitz, a Pulitzer Prize winning journalist, was living in Virginia when a reenactment spilled across his front yard Curious, he went to talk to these men and, with the freelancer s keen nose for a story, decided to spend a weekend with them The reenactors were hardcore, involving an obsessive devotion to recreating the experience of being a soldier in the Civil War They only wore period appropriate garb they only ate period appropriate food They dieted fanatically so they could stay near the average weight of a Civil War soldier One reenactor, the King of the Hardcore, a man named Robert Lee Hodge, even soaked his buttons in urine so they would oxidize properly These guys were so real they didn t like reenacting battles, because you couldn t actually fire bullets Inspired by this chance meeting, Horwitz sets out on a sometimes quirky, often profound Civil War odyssey This journey gets off to a bit of a rocky start The reason is that after visiting Fort Sumter the obvious starting point Horwitz sets out for Kentucky, and runs smack dab into a murder case The killer is a young black man the victim a white man who d been flying the Confederate flag from his pickup truck In a long, heavy chapter, Horwitz follows the twists and turns of this story, including the trial The journalism Horwitz displays is sharp, with strong writing and acute perceptions Despite the obvious quality of Horwitz s account, this is a grim way to begin It requires you to set aside any preconceived ideas that this is simply a comedic voyage to discover the forgotten curios of American violence, and the delightful oddballs who keep them While there are moments of levity and wryness, and a delightful oddball or two, Confederates in the Attic has a certain seriousness of purpose that forced me to recalibrate my expectations Rather than making himself a character, as Sarah Vowell does in Assassination Vacation and The Wordy Shipmates, Horwitz remains atof a distance, the somber, professional journalist He is skilled at engaging people from all walks, and eliciting insightful responses, but he seldom challenges people, even when they are saying the most racist, idiotic things Instead of taking them down, he maintains a certain objectivity, which can be frustrating, especially when you want him to pounce Confederates in the Attic gains steam once Horwitz leaves Kentucky and really gets his Civil War tour underway He stops at battlefields and historical monuments there is a beautiful morning walk in Shiloh, the loveliest of all Civil War sites , talks to devoted Park Rangers and amateur historians, tracks down hole in the wall museums with unique, sometimes macabre collections, and even stops by to talk to Shelby Foote, who rose to fame as the kindly, gregarious raconteur of Ken Burns The Civil War It turns out, sadly, that according to Horwitz, Foote God rest his soul was kind of a jerk, and a bit of a racist It led me to track down other things Foote said and wrote, furthering my impression that he was kind of a jerk, and a bit of a racist Of all the people Horwitz runs across, none compares to Robert Lee Hodge, the hardcore reenactor who helped spark Horwitz s journey This at last is what I was expecting when I first cracked these pages Hodge is a true iconoclast, the kind of guy without a hint of artifice or self consciousness At least he was, at the time Horwitz was with him, before the fame that came with this book s release Hodge takes Horwitz on a Civil Wargasm, in which the two men attempt to cram as much Civil War into as short a period as possible Together, they sneak onto Antietam battlefield and sleep in the Sunken Road they attempt to eat salt pork they find the burial spot of Stonewall Jackson s arm It is a pilgrimage of the mad, the obsessed, the passionate When Hodge shows up in the story, your attention will be rapt This makes it all thetroubling when Horowitz, having apparently gathered enough material for his book, sort of just takes off and goes home Without even a thank you in the acknowledgments Confederates in the Attic is subtitled Dispatches from the Unfinished Civil War If that really was Horwitz s point and not some copy editor s , he doesn t really try to prove it, and actually does a lot to undercut it Indeed, what you find during a lot of his travels even in the South is that the Civil War is just another corporatized brand Civil War sites are so popular in part because they are presented as a patriotic celebration of internecine strife that, like a healed muscle, made the country stronger It is the super happy positive interpretation of the Civil War, which is often belied by the actual facts Other nations that have had bloody civil wars definitely do not look upon them as fondly as Americans In order to escape the Disney theme park version of the Civil War, Horwitz has to go down some dark alleys to find the unreconstructed nuts But he finds them, to be sure.To that end, the undercurrent of Confederates in the Attic is race This is not a surprise, as slavery despite all arguments to the contrary was the necessary and sufficient cause of the Civil War Interestingly, as much as Horwitz pokes and prods, overt racism rarely bubbles to the surface, carefully tamped down by the contours of Lost Cause mythology One exception is a hillbilly bar, where Horwitz almost gets beat up Instead, Horwitz finds a lot of soft racism that seemsa function of class insecurity than a deep seeded belief in white supremacy A lot of the people Horwitz meets come across as good old boys with an abiding interest in their own regional history Their minimization of slavery s role, or its effect on black Americans, smacks of defensiveness of their chosen hobby Nevertheless, this kind of soft racism allows for and supports the hard racism police brutality, redlining, systemic inequality that continues to divide the United States That is, a person who denies the pernicious effects of hundreds of years of race based slavery, followed by a hundred plus years of discriminatory laws and enforcement, is denying the issues that are happening today, before our eyes and before the single glass eyes of our cellphones For me, one of the most interesting question raised by Horwitz is why these Civil War nuts do what they do, and are what they are Horwitz stumbles across one possible answer when he meets Mike Hawkins The scenes with Hawkins are the most resonant, and touching, in the entire book Hawkins lived in a small trailer in North Carolina, working a minimum wage job at a dying factory a factory that was dying in the 90s, and which is today, undoubtedly dead Horwitz tells how Hawkins, at night, would slip out of the bed he shared with his wife and read Civil War books by oven light For some reason, this struck me as an incredibly touching, weirdly beautiful image Here is a man trapped by what he feels is the smallness of his life, who looks to the past he tracked down his ancestors who fought in the Civil War to find some larger meaning to his own existence And really, that is the great escape provided by history Our modern lives are much easier than the lives lived by those in previous decades There is no doubt about that Yet the ghosts of the past have an advantage over us their certainty They have reached the end of their stories Because we live in the now, the future is unknown We grapple with uncertainty about jobs, finances, love, health Now,than ever, the future seems very shaky indeed The only thing we know to an absolute is that our time here will end too soon The past, it has been written, is a different world In that world, everything has already happened, the words have been chiseled into granite That is a deep comfort No matter how dark history gets, you know how things turn out, like some kind of god Anyone who s read a lot of history, or even a little history, or even just glanced at a Wikipedia page once, knows that actually living in the past is a horrible idea You would not want to get into a time machine and head back to 1861 Believe me, I ve studied the bathroom situation It s not pleasant Yet, our current lives are hampered by that uncertainty I mentioned, the fact that we won t know the full story until the end, and the end is kind of scary History is an antidote of sorts Like Horwitz, I ve traveled to distant battlefields, and found them at dawn, when the sun is just rising You are alone, in a place that looks like it did 150 years ago The birds are in the trees, the sun gets caught in the gossamer mist, and if you think really hard, or really just think at all, you can hear the tramp of thousands of feet, the rumble of drums, the snap of flags You can t get back to the past, and you can t know the future, but for a moment, you can exist in this incredible moment of suspension, somewhere in between You can, for a few minutes, stop time Afterwards, you can leave the battlefield and grab a Sausage McMuffin, and for a moment, things will be perfect OK, so I m on a Civil War road trip with my Significant Other, following the official Virginia state Lee s Retreat tour and reading to him from Confederates in the Attic to pass the time The section we were reading dealt with the bigger than life owner of an old general store that he had turned into a museum of sorts I said this is really over the top Horowitz maybe exaggerated this guy to make a better story S.O said we should try to find the place and just then, we pass an ol OK, so I m on a Civil War road trip with my Significant Other, following the official Virginia state Lee s Retreat tour and reading to him from Confederates in the Attic to pass the time The section we were reading dealt with the bigger than life owner of an old general store that he had turned into a museum of sorts I said this is really over the top Horowitz maybe exaggerated this guy to make a better story S.O said we should try to find the place and just then, we pass an old general store SO slows the car, then backs up, and damned if the guy described in the book, Jimmy Olger, isn t sitting outside, shooting the t with some of the locals And he s MORE colorful than described it anything, Horowitz played it down a little So after being guided through his store and hearing all of his tall tales about it, we wander across the street to a hitorical house, with a marker showing it as part of the Official Lee s Retreat Tour The sign says tour guide available across the street We turn, and there s Mr Olger, waving to us We give him a donation, and we re off on another tour, this one of his ancestors house, which was involved in one of the last battles of the war But to listen to him, you would have thought it happened yesterday, and he was being a Bigger Man by showing hospitality to two interloping Yankees who may have well shot up his great Grandma s house themselves Being Yankees, we ve put the Civil War behind us, but didn t realize until reading this book and touring the South, that many Southerns have not Anyone wishing a deeper understanding about why the South is as it is today, why there s the whole Red State Blue State thing will want to read this book On the other hand, if you don t give a flying leap about all that, but like a good yarn, and want to meet some interesting and colorful characters, this book is for you, too In Confederates in the Attic, journalist Tony Horwitz explores the ways in which the Civil War is still present in Southern culture.I was a Civil War re enactor in junior high and high school, and I particularly appreciated his chapter on that very strange hobby A Farb of the Heart Farb, by the way, is re enactor slang for all things inauthentic I ve not always been impressed with Horwitz s books I thought Baghdad without a Map to be particularly slight , but here he really nails it For In Confederates in the Attic, journalist Tony Horwitz explores the ways in which the Civil War is still present in Southern culture.I was a Civil War re enactor in junior high and high school, and I particularly appreciated his chapter on that very strange hobby A Farb of the Heart Farb, by the way, is re enactor slang for all things inauthentic I ve not always been impressed with Horwitz s books I thought Baghdad without a Map to be particularly slight , but here he really nails it For instance, he perfectly captures the cliquishness of re enacting the overweight, middle aged farbs wearing second hand work boots and puffing innocently on Marlboros the hardcores who feel that crowds of spectators interfered with an authentic experience of combat the civilian sutlers, nurses, and Lee Lincoln impersonators the few embittered ex Real Deal guys who like to massage their tattoos and grouse, Just like the real military a continual fucking screw up everyone distrusting everyone else.There s the phenomenon of way too many people including yours truly wanting to be Confederate When I play Northern, I feel like the Russians in Afghanistan, a guy from freaking New Jersey explained This was pre 9 11, of course Would he now say that he feels like the Marines in Fallujah There s the usual griping over who has to die in battle There s the mind blowing romanticization of everything, right down to Hello It s an era lost that we re trying to recapture, a woman washing clothes in a tub told Horwitz Men were men and women were women It was less complicated When a guy ambles past and says, Evening, ma am, the woman practically faints at how Gone with the Wind it all is See what I mean No one s that polite in real life anyThis is where re enacting starts to make me cranky What s the matter with these people People are still polite And today, we get the added bonus of NOT mowing each other down by the hundreds of thousands on backyard battlefields One objection to what I found in Horwitz An accountant from Connecticut who was nevertheless fighting for the South argues, We re not here to debate slavery or states rights We re here to preserve the experience of the common soldier, North and South That s mostly true, but the guys in my unit debated states rights endlessly They honestly believed the North was wrong They honestly believed the Civil War had nothing to do with slavery This was hard to take, even in junior high school I hate to call it a hobby, continues the accountant, because it s so muchthan that We re here to find the real answers, to read between the lines in the history books, and then share our experience with the spectators Real answers There s a mystical element to re enacting that I just don t get These guys the hardcore ones, anyway know their history chapter and verse But it s micro history They know their shirt buttons The real answers whatever those are can t be found in shirt buttons I don t think