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A South Divided: Portraits of Dissent in the Confederacy [Hardcover]

David C. Downing

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Price: 14.48 & FREE Delivery in the UK. Details
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Product details

  • Hardcover: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Cumberland House Publishing,US (1 Sep 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1581825870
  • ISBN-13: 978-1581825879
  • Product Dimensions: 2.3 x 16.1 x 23.1 cm
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 2,940,351 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Downing (English, Elizabethtown College) surveys the overall nature of dissent from within the Confederacy during the American Civil War. Using the term dissent to refer to any refusal to consent by word, action, or non-cooperation, he takes a chronological approach to describing the activities of such varied dissenters West Virginia Unionists brea

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Amazon.com: 4.6 out of 5 stars  5 reviews
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A thoroughly engrossing "must-read" contribution to Civil War history shelves. 4 Aug 2007
By Midwest Book Review - Published on Amazon.com
Civil War historian David C. Downing (Professor of English, Elizabethtown College) presents A South Divided: Portraits of Dissent in the Confederacy, a singularly fascinating look at the men, women, and slaves of the Confederate states who wanted no part of "a rich man's war and a poor man's fight." From public outrage over rising taxes and practices that rich slaveholders used to avoid being called to risk their lives on the front (there was even a "twenty-slave law" passed that protected slaveholders owning twenty or more slaves from the Confederate draft) to Indian tribes caught within and caught up in internecine rivalry to "cave dwellers" who used sophisticated means to evade conscription to those Southerners, particularly slaves, who outright deserted the Confederate army to join ranks with the Union, A South Divided reveals both individual stories and a grand picture of how internal dissent ultimately contributed to the Confederacy's defeat. "If all it takes to win wars is material superiority, then why did the British fail to prevent American independence and why did America fail to achieve its objectives in Vietnam?" A thoroughly engrossing "must-read" contribution to Civil War history shelves.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great for civil war buffs 9 July 2007
By Reader Views - Published on Amazon.com
Reviewed by Tyler R. Tichelaar for Reader Views (7/07)

David C. Downing's new book, "A South Divided: Portraits of Dissent in the Confederacy," is a fascinating and long-overdue book. While he references a few books that have preceded his about divisions in the Southern States, "A South Divided" brings to the forefront a forgotten piece of American history that was far more complicated than we have been led to believe.

Downing makes the point that "the South" and the "Confederacy" are not interchangeable terms. Many people in the South did not support the Confederacy but wished to preserve the Union, and many Southerners acted subversively to support the Union during the war. Downing demonstrates that there is a lot of gray area in the battle between the blue and the gray.

The book begins with examples of pre-Civil War Southerners who were abolitionists and anti-secession. Most notable of these, in my opinion, were the Grimke sisters, wealthy daughters of a prominent Charleston and plantation-owning family, who were so disgusted by the evils of slavery they moved to the North and began to advocate abolition. While the book focuses primarily upon men who opposed the rebel cause, it contains a complete chapter on women, including Elizabeth Van Lew, who went so far as to treat wounded Union Soldiers in Richmond, aided a plot for Union soldiers to escape from the Richmond prison, and planted her slaves (whom she actually paid as servants) as spies in other Richmond homes so she could send secret missives to General Grant about the movements of the Confederate troops.

Equally interesting were the discussions of Southern states and counties that opposed secession from the Union. West Virginia's story of division with Virginia and its own incorporation into the Union is the most notable and best known, though seldom told, story. However, counties in Tennessee, Mississippi, and Alabama also all sought to separate themselves from the states they were in and create their own independent states within the Union. These cases were less successful than West Virginia, but the number of them shows how much the South was divided.

Numerous other stories are told of the soldiers, especially Southerners, such as General George Thomas, who achieved high rank within the Union army despite their Southern roots and Northern prejudice against them. The stories of escaped slaves who became members of the Union army are also included. The only information I felt missing from the book was the story of President Andrew Johnson, who was only mentioned briefly, yet I cannot help feeling he was the most important Southerner, or at least the Southerner who rose to the highest rank within the Union during the war.

Perhaps Downing felt the story of Johnson and his impeachment was already well known, but I would have liked to see Johnson included. I think it would have been a good contrast, especially because Downing discusses how skeptical Lincoln and many others were about promoting General Thomas because he was a Southerner, so I would have liked to know more about why Johnson was given such a high position as vice-president.

Overall, I found "The South Divided" to be a fascinating book, filled with detailed stories, yet fast-paced and extremely readable. Ultimately, while Downing mentions the many arguments for why the South lost or why the North won the war, he makes the point that it may have been because the South was not completely behind the cause of the Confederacy that allowed the North to win. I think anyone interested in American history, and especially Civil War buffs, will absolutely love this book which opens up new theories and viewpoints into an old, but never dull moment in the American story.

Received book free of charge
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent Service 25 Nov 2012
By archaeopat - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
This book was exactly as advertised and arrived promptly. It is a very good source on a poorly understood subject.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Interesting 23 Jun 2012
By Indian Lover - Published on Amazon.com
Verified Purchase
The book arrived in excellent condition. The content is interesting, but could have been better written. Would recommend to any
individual with an interest in the subject as there does not appear to be many books on this subject.
4.0 out of 5 stars A great Read 8 May 2013
By David Brown Jr. - Published on Amazon.com
I have enjoyed the book "A South Divided." It is amazing that the South was able to fight as long as it did. The south lost thousand of men who could had made a differince in the war because these men fought for the north. The south was to divided to win.
I thought the book did a great job showung how all the south was not for the war. It gave me a complete different picture of the south. Love the book!
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