What Caused the Civil War?: Reflections on the South and Southern History
In wide-ranging essays on the Civil War, the New South, and the twentieth-century South, Edward L. Ayers turns over the rich soil of Southern life to explore the sources of the nation's and his own history.
In the title essay, original here, Ayers draws on his vast research to offer a fresh approach to the nation's central historical event. Ayers's perspective is that of the people who lived through the momentous events he describes. He sees no inevitable clash of civilizations North and South but a highly charged mix of emotion and pragmatism fed by an imperfect knowledge of events. The decisions made in this volatile atmosphere generate their own momentum, carrying the nation improbably into civil war. Ayers's account of Reconstruction is also timely. The promise and limits to the federal attempts to reconstruct the South are precursors to later reconstructions sponsored by the United States around the world.
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