What is the most relevant message in Confederates in the Attic by Tony Horwitz?

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Ashley Kannan | Middle School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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I think that Horwitz's most compelling message to come out of his work is to bring attention to how historical reality impacts modern reality.  This is a complex process and one cannot dismiss it as simply "relics of the past."  I think that this becomes one of the most important elements of the book.  Horwitz is seeking to bring out how historical reality impacts the daily existence of so many and that this process is complex and intricate.  For Northern and Southern Whites, the Civil War means a great deal in terms of what it means for elements such as states rights, the purpose of fighting, as well as its basic representation.  Horwitz's exploration is living proof of how "the past is not dead," and how it "might not even be past."  When Horwitz explores the condition of young African- Americans towards the Civil War, one recognizes how history is vibrant and a life force that helps to explain modern reality.  Historical consciousness is not an easy element, a process of understanding that is, at times, uncomfortable and far from clear.  It is this point that Horwitz brings out in his work and forces the reader to understand and assess regarding the Civil War, and history, in general.


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