As the grief of spring rolls into the outrage of summer, Americans are witnessing a cataclysm over the soul of their nation. We face a multitude of crises that stem from unresolved pathologies of America’s recent and distant past. The erosion of democratic norms and institutions, systematic racism, income inequality, poverty, and more – all with us before 2020 – have been laid bare and worsened by a pandemic and by toxic leadership at the highest levels of government. Amidst these calamities, we also face a crisis of history and historical memory. At its heart, it is a struggle over America’s historical record, who has claim to it – and, by extension, to America – and what its legacies mean for the future of the United States. Historians must continue their vital mission of uncovering, interrogating, and illuminating the whole and complex truths of our nation’s past. The historian’s task, along with sharing insights with the public, is crucial to the process of establishing and maintaining a national story for a more inclusive, diverse, and democratic America. We, the Editorial Staff of the Civil War Book Review, are honored to play a small role in that process by providing reviews of some of most important Civil War and Reconstruction-era scholarship published between 2017 and early 2020. We hope that their insights convey how the legacies of the Civil War and Reconstruction have profoundly shaped the dilemmas of our present.
Civil War Book Review: Vol. 22
Available at: https://digitalcommons.lsu.edu/cwbr/vol22/iss2/1