CONFEDERATES IN THE ATTIC: Dispatches from the Unfinished Civil War

Editorial Review - Kirkus - Jane Doe

Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Horwitz (Baghdad Without a Map, 1991, etc.) takes an eye-opening turn in the South, where his childhood obsession with the Confederacy collides with hard adult realities about race and culture in America.Growing up in Virginia, Horwitz painted rebel heroes on the walls of his attic bedroom. Returning home after a decade spent covering foreign wars, he launches a ... Read full review

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LibraryThing Review

User Review  - AlisonLea - LibraryThing

This is my favorite book (so far) of the summer of 2008! Portrait of 90s America through the lens of the ever-troubled relationship between North and South, black and white, past and present. Funny ... Read full review

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I enjoyed the book, which is essentially a series of character studies, with the emphasis on 'character.' I continually looked forward to seeing what would happen next, so in that sense, it was very well worth reading.
The one issue I have, and the one that cost the book a star, is the prevailing sense that Horwitz was describing a field trip to a zoo containing a bunch of slightly odd animals. He never got beyond being an outsider, and never really gave me the feeling that he quite understood or empathised with his subjects.

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Confederates in the Attic is the second book by American journalist and author, Tony Horwitz. Whilst much Civil War literature is likely to have the eyes of anyone but the most enthusiastic fan glazing over before too long, anyone who has read Pulitzer Prizewinning Horwitz’s work may be interested enough to see what he can do with this much-written-about subject. Perhaps what he has created is not so much a book about the Civil War as a travelogue of places and people who are still affected by it. From a deep-seated childhood interest in the Civil War, Horwitz got the idea to tour the core Confederate Southern states, revisiting sites of interest and talking to people involved in commemorations and re-enactments. He meets hard-core (almost fundamentalist) enthusiasts who go to extremes for authenticity in re-enactment; he peruses collections of memorabilia and paraphernalia; he attends commemorative gatherings where he listens to Children of the Confederacy reciting the Confederate Catechism under the loving eye of Sons of Confederate Veterans and United Daughters of the Confederacy, one of whom even administers Cats of the Confederacy; he visits prison camps, cemeteries and tombs; he learns that his subject is often known as the War Between the States or the War of Northern Aggression; he talks to historians, collectors, students and everyday folk, both black and white, about what the Civil War means to them and the significance of the rebel flag; he goes on a week-long Civil Wargasm; he finds a truly integrated town; he talks to the last real Confederate widow; he dips into Gone With The Wind; and he uncovers a surprising depth of ongoing racial divide. As this book was written in the 1990s, it would be interesting to canvass these attitudes and opinions in the wake of a black president’s term. This book is interesting, thought-provoking and occasionally hilarious.  

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im sorry but whoever wrote the initial review really missed something. the book in its purist sense is to point out that the modern beliefs about the civil war differ from place to place and from person to person. the reviewer claims that its simply racism.
" Horwitz's reflective odyssey uncovers a profoundly disaffected nation, where battles over the Confederate flag, virulent antigovernment sentiment, and enduring ignorance and bigotry invite some dispiriting conclusions about the prospects for black/white rapprochement."
ugh.... the point of the book is to point out that the flag itself is seen as many different symbols some see it as racism yes but the majority of those who still fly it generally see it as a sign of defiance or as a symbol of honor, family ties, history, etc. the point of the book is to show that all of those differing beliefs about a single symbol are valid. the book is a quest to find out what the different beliefs are and what keeps them alive. the book is not about what keeps America divided but how a single symbol can be misinterpreted many ways and even acted upon no matter how the symbol is seen by the other group (the murder of the teen in the pickup which had a rebel flag for example). also if the reviewer had bothered to read the book he would have remembered that the biggest region in the us for racist groups tends to be the midwest (Indiana in the lead, if i remember correctly Illinois was number 2).
"enduring ignorance"... sigh.
the south grew up. when will the rest of the country realize it? im so tired of this stigma.
btw since i have to write a little about my impressions of the book. im giving it four and 3/4 stars because Horwitz stayed out of Florida and Texas. as a Texan born Floridian i find this offensive so he looses one fourth of a star.

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