Mary Chesnut's Civil War

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Yale University Press, 1981 - Biography & Autobiography - 886 pages
4 Reviews
"A feast for Civil War buffs.... One of the best firsthand records of the Confederate experience.... Electrifying."--Walter Clemons, Newsweek
"Here is a book to curl up with over a whole lifetime--to read and reread, to ponder and savor."--Selma R. Williams, The Boston Globe
"A painfully brilliant record of our old America at daggers drawn.... Mary Chestnut's wit and shrewdness, her fierce abhorrence of slavery, her feminist ambitions, maker her observations peculiarly modern... C. Vann Woodward's editing... is exemplary.... He has reacquainted us with a remarkable woman; and she has reacquainted us with the living past."--Andrew Klavan, Saturday Review
"Here is the rich and full context, as the author herself recreated it.  It is by all odds the best of all civil War memoirs, and one of the most remarkable eye-witness accounts to emerge from that or any other war."--Louis D. Rubin, Jr., The New Republic
"Chestnut's prose and insights dazzle.  Lively sketches, biting characterizations, entertaining anecdotes, and vivid reflections fill the page."--Catherine Clinton, The Journal of American History 
"Thanks to [C. Vann Woodawrd], we have the first authoritative text of this great work now revealed as the masterpiece it is; the finest work of literature to come out of the Civil War, perhaps one of the half dozen or so most important diaries in all literature; if you will, a Southern War and Peace."--Reid Beddow, The Washington Post Book World
"A great epic drama of our greatest national tragedy."--William Styron, The New York Review of Books
Winner of the 1982 Pulitzer Prize in History
C. Vann Woodward is Sterling Professor Emeritus of History at Yale University.

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User Review  - shesinplainview - LibraryThing

It was facinating to read an authentic diary from the Civil War era. You wonder how much you see in movies is realistic. This put some things in prospective, confirmed alot of things about southern ... Read full review

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User Review  - RobertP - LibraryThing

Perfectly good book no doubt. However, one must be interested in the social life of the top one percent of the southern aristocracy, which I am not, finding them to be a particularly stupid and ... Read full review


Introduction Diary in FactDiary in Form
Mary Boykin Chesnut 18231886
Of Heresy and Paradox
Editorial Problems and Policies
Road to Montgomery
In All This Death and Destruction
The Best and the Bravest
A World Kicked to PiecesMemoirs
In Spite of Blockade
Between War and Peace
Enjoy the Brief Hour
Buck and the Wounded Knight
How Hardened We Grow

Nation in the Making
Into the Black Cloud
The Home Front
Waiting for the Real War
First Sprightly Running
Who Killed Cock Robin?
I Am Always on the Womens Side
Witherspoon Murder Case
Fall of Port Royal
Provincial Sloth
xn The Politics of War
With Horror and Amazement
Nothing to Chronicle but Disasters
Fiction Is So Flat Comparatively
Blows Now Fall So Fast
Is Anything Worth It?
A President Pays a Call
Cassandra Wails
Listen for Shermans Bugles
Thermopylae Business
Refugees in Lubberland
Job Is My Comforter
Keeping Ahead of Sherman
The Game Is Up
The Smoking Ruins

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About the author (1981)

Mary Chesnut was a Southern-aristocrat daughter of the governor of South Carolina and the wife of a U.S. senator who helped draft the South's secession ordinance and then served the Confederate government during the Civil War. Chesnut was also a gifted writer. She began her daily journal in 1860 and revised it after the Civil War. While the basis for A Diary from Dixie (1905) is her daily journal, her composition process was more akin to that of fiction. She willed her diary to her friend Isabella Martin, who cut it to a third of its original length before publishing it in 1905. Ben Ames Williams, a novelist, edited a more complete version in 1949, including much of the interesting gossip and rumors that had been cut from the first edition. The historian Vann Woodward edited yet another version from original manuscripts, Mary Chesnut's Civil War (1981). The Diary gives an invaluable record of Confederate society and war efforts, as well as a frank picture of the Chesnuts' marriage. Although her views on African Americans are far from enlightened by modern standards, Mary Chesnut hated slavery and the necessity for women to pretend innocence about the mulatto children in their households. Along with its engaging picture of Confederate life, Chesnut's Diary reveals the dilemma of women of wit and intelligence in a repressive society.

One of the world's most distinguished historians, C. Vann Woodward was born in Vanndale, Arkansas, and educated at Emory University and the University of North Carolina, where he received his Ph.D. in 1937. After teaching at Georgia Institute of Technology, the University of Florida, and Scripps College for a time, in 1946 he joined the faculty at The Johns Hopkins University, where he began producing the many young Ph.D.s who have followed him into the profession. In 1961 he became Sterling Professor at Yale University, where he remains today as emeritus professor. He has been the Jefferson Lecturer in the Humanities, Harmsworth Professor at Oxford University, and Commonwealth Lecturer at the University of London. Past president of all the major historical associations, he holds the Gold Medal of the National Academy and Institute of Arts and Letters and is a member of the British Academy and the Royal Historical Society. His honors also include a Bancroft Prize for Origins of the New South, 1876--1913 (1951) and a 1982 Pulitzer Prize for Mary Chesnut's Civil War (1981). A premier historian of the American South and of race relations in the United States, Woodward studies the South in a way that sheds light on the human condition everywhere. In recent years he has turned his attention increasingly to comparative history.

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