The Confederate Battle Flag: America's Most Embattled Emblem

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Belknap Press of Harvard University Press, Apr 1, 2006 - History - 401 pages
4 Reviews

In recent years, the Confederate flag has become as much a news item as a Civil War relic. Intense public debates have erupted over Confederate flags flying atop state capitols, being incorporated into state flags, waving from dormitory windows, or adorning the T-shirts and jeans of public school children. To some, this piece of cloth is a symbol of white supremacy and enduring racial injustice; to others, it represents a rich Southern heritage and an essential link to a glorious past. Polarizing Americans, these "flag wars" reveal the profound--and still unhealed--schisms that have plagued the country since the Civil War.

The Confederate Battle Flag is the first comprehensive history of this contested symbol. Transcending conventional partisanship, John Coski reveals the flag's origins as one of many banners unfurled on the battlefields of the Civil War. He shows how it emerged as the preeminent representation of the Confederacy and was transformed into a cultural icon from Reconstruction on, becoming an aggressively racist symbol only after World War II and during the Civil Rights movement. We gain unique insight into the fine line between the flag's use as a historical emblem and as an invocation of the Confederate nation and all it stood for. Pursuing the flag's conflicting meanings, Coski suggests how this provocative artifact, which has been viewed with pride, fear, anger, nostalgia, and disgust, might ultimately provide Americans with the common ground of a shared and complex history.

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Review: The Confederate Battle Flag: America's Most Embattled Emblem

User Review  - Sarah Elliott - Goodreads

This is a thoroughly researched, objective work on the history and use of what we consider today to be the Confederate flag. Coski does not argue what the flag should stand for, but rather everything ... Read full review

Review: The Confederate Battle Flag: America's Most Embattled Emblem

User Review  - Julie H. - Goodreads

I can't think of a better example of a symbol that people love to hate, hate to love, or love to love. Flags are powerful symbols, and this one no less so than any other. Will post more when I'm done. Read full review

About the author (2006)

John M. Coski is Historian and Library Director at The Museum of the Confederacy.

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