WHat does horwitz tell us about the continuing impact of the civil war on America today? Why are so many people obsessed with it even when they dont have family conncections to it? Why is this period so apealling to so many popel? How does its appeal cary? As America changes do you think, its appeal will last, dwindle, or change? Explain.
This is a fantastic book with a great premise, as the author goes from Civil War battlefield to battlefield, on the same date in history in which they took place and interviews the "hardcores" re-enactors about their views on the war, race and other things.Here are some things I got from the book as regards your questions:
1) The country was forcibly reunited, not socially. There was massive bitterness and this was passed from generation to generation
2) Being conquered has, in some senses, become the South's identity, so it is a source of pride even though no one was alive during that time to experience it.
Sadly, the preservation of Confederate history has fallen into a politically incorrect mind set for many people today. Of course, pickup trucks brandishing the Stars and Bars don't help matters much. But as a native born Southern historian with family roots in Mississippi, Alabama, Tennessee, Kentucky and Florida, an interest in The Lost Cause just seems natural for me. I'm also a direct descendant of John Brown, so some people can observe the War Between the States in a rational, fair-minded manner. Remember, the underdog will always have their supporters, no matter the sport or battlefield. I do agree, however, that interest in Civil War era Southern heritage is dwindling, but the same can be said for interest in Union-related history as well.
My take on why many people are in the South are so interested in preserving Confederate icons (the battle flag, especially) is that it is (to give them the benefit of the doubt) a way for them to express their support for traditional values. For some, however, I think talking about those traditional values is just a cover for racism.
People argue that Confederate images are only about heritage, but I think this is suspicious given that those images were not very prominent until the Civil Rights Movement. After that movement, whites in the South (not all, of course) started to feel like their culture (built on white supremacy) was being eroded by new ways.
Will this appeal continue? It seems to me that as the South becomes more like the rest of the US, it will dwindle. However, if we continue to have such a pronounced liberal/conservative cultural split (with the South as a bastion of conservatism) the South may continue to feel marginalized and feel the need to reach back to symbols of the old days.