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EDITORIAL: The Changing Face of Civil War Studies

by Childers, Christopher Issue: Fall 2008

The Changing Face of Civil War Studies


Welcome to the new Civil War Book Review! What you see in this new issue is the culmination of an extensive redesign process we have undertaken to make the CWBR site a better experience for our readers. Of course, one will immediately notice the redesigned home page, but we have enhanced the nuts and bolts of the journal as well. First, the search features have enhanced capabilities to aid in finding specific reviews, articles, and annotations. Second, we have added additional functions to allow sharing of articles via the social network features available to web users. So in addition to having the common function of sending an article to a friend via e-mail, one can also share articles via Facebook, Digg, and other social networking platforms. Finally, we have upgraded the system which stores the current issue and archives, allowing for faster and more efficient loading of articles. We hope you enjoy the new CWBR experience, with its cleaner look and increased functionality. And as always, if you have comments or suggestions, feel free to contact us via the reader’s survey feature.

In this issue, we feature a wide range of significant new releases on the Civil War era. Drew Gilpin Faust’s fascinating new study of the idea of death and the Civil war has gained the attention of Civil War scholars as a pathbreaking new study of the war. Robert Kenzer reviews This Republic of Suffering: Death and the American Civil War as well as Mark S. Schantz’s Awaiting the Heavenly Country: The Civil War and America’s Culture of Death—two works that introduce students of the Civil War to a new facet of study. In another newer field of study, Margaret Humphreys has written a study of the health of black Civil War soldiers. Sally G. McMillen reviews Intensely Human: The Health of the Black Soldier in the American Civil War. Clearly, scholars continue to challenge the boundaries of what we know about the Civil War.

Many historians have also taken a fresh look at old subjects. Charles P. Roland reviews Rod Andrew, Jr.’s Wade Hampton: Confederate Warrior to Southern Redeemer, a new biography of the famous South Carolinian. We also feature a review of the late George M. Fredrickson’s Big Enough to Be Inconsistent: Abraham Lincoln Confronts Slavery and Race, a book that probes into the 16th president’s racial attitudes, how they informed his decision making, and how they changed over time. And Robert E. May reviews Phillip E. Myers’s Caution and Cooperation: The American Civil War in British-American Relations, a new treatment of a critical issue in the diplomatic history of the Civil War.

For this issue, I had the privilege of interviewing my mentor, William J. Cooper, Jr., on his new book Jefferson Davis and the Civil War Era. Cooper, who wrote Jefferson Davis, American in 2000, has written a series of essays that focus closely on Davis as the Confederate president and commander-in-chief. And in another new feature for readers of CWBR, we include the audio version of my interview with Cooper. In the future, we hope to expand into streaming audio to allow our readers to also listen to America’s Civil War scholars as they discuss their work.

The new CWBR debuts as we approach our tenth anniversary. Next year, we will mark the end of our first decade and the start of a second. We thank our readers and supporters who continue to read and use the journal as a resource on all books Civil War! Look for our special issue next February commemorating the bicentennial of Abraham Lincoln’s birth.

And—as always—enjoy your study of the Civil War.

review of EDITORIAL: The Changing Face of Civil War Studies, by Childers, Christopher, Civil War Book Review, (Fall 2008).