- Paperback: 886 pages
- Publisher: Yale University Press; New edition edition (1 July 1983)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0300029799
- ISBN-13: 978-0300029796
- Product Dimensions: 4.4 x 15.2 x 22.9 cm
- Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars See all reviews (1 customer review)
- Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,308,411 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
Mary Chesnut's Civil War Paperback – 1 Jul 1983
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Mary loved to gossip and name drop and had very strong opinions on any given subject. She had no children so she had plenty of time to be self indulgent and a bit vain. She really must have been a fascinating person as people seem to be drawn to her. Varina Davis was one of her closest friends and she visited the Davis home frequently. She believed slavery to be wrong & hated the fact that there were so many racially mixed children that looked very much like the master of the plantations. She complained about the costs involved in keeping slaves and thought the time had come to abolish slavery. On the other hand, she spoke of slaves like children that needed to be cared for. She also had never had to take care of herself or run a house. She relied totally on her servants for everything.
She wrote this diary with the intention of including rumors, facts,and anything she might be thinking at the time. John Bell Hood was a frequent visitor and is talked of in her diary quite frequently. She talked about Hood's love for a woman and of his wounds. She referred to him as their "wounded knight". She was a very opinionated, outspoken, and (I think) spoiled women. There are no great military strategies and battle description in her book. She describes the dinners they had or how people were dressed. She talks of all the gossip about all the differert generals and the politics of the day. Reading her diary is like sitting down for coffee with her and listening to the events,real or rumored, that she chats about. She loves all the gossip and thrives on attention She had a front row seat to all events about the war, civilian life, and the downfall of the Confederacy It's wonderful to have the chance to get to know Mary Chesnut with her candid way of writting. She also writes of the trials and tribulations when everything was crashing down aroound her. Her first experience of wearing old clothes, food shortages, no money, & wondering all the while what was going to happen to her and her husband. People were dying all around her and her. Her entire culture & lifestyle were disapearing, everything simply falling apart, yet she kept up her writting. What a fascinating woman Mrs. Mary Chesnut must have been.
It may be a little difficult to read for some. I think maybe most difficult for men for much of it is "idle chatter" that women do when they get together. There is much information in here that you can only get from someone in the middle of it all.
This is a annotated compilation of her original diaries. Her husband was high up in Jefferson Davis' cabinet, so there are all sorts of stories about the Confederate elite, and the personalities involved.
There are even funny stories, and gossip.
Even though you know how the story will end, it's an interesting read, especially toward the end, as Sherman is on the march. It's long, but you can pick it up and put it down without losing the continuity.
Mary was a witty and perceptive woman who was ahead of her time. She's someone I'd like to have lunch with.
time set aside to get some serious reading done. Since Ken Burns quoted Mary quite a bit in his
televised Civil War series I know I am in for a treat. A must for history buffs.