Your Favorite History Books Published in 2011

Here’s a chance for all of you to share with the readers of Crossroads your three favorite history books published in 2011.  Note that they don’t have to be Civil War era-related … but they have to have been published in 2011, not 2010 or earlier (some people like to cheat). And don’t worry if you can’t come up with three titles … but try to limit yourself to three.  Thanks!

Stirring the Pot

Well, it certainly seems as if my post on the Southern Nationalist Network’s support of the “flagging” protest of certain Confederate heritage advocates against the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts has aroused controversy in some corners.  The Southern Nationalist Network itself has decided that I’m a “Leftist” as well as an “anti-nationalist … of the forced-Unionist variety,” which, on the face of it, seems quite an accomplishment.  The SNN seems particularly upset that I quoted what it believes in, including the argument that southerners are of European descent, which by definition excludes African Americans.  It claims that quoting what it says constitutes an accusation of racism … a term I never employed, but one that seems much on its mind.  Moreover, it seems I’ve overlooked something the SNN sees as true:

They are offended that we openly condemn the un-natural socialist pipe-dream of equality, which, as the Left has proven time and time again over the last century, can only be achieved by battering people down to the same common denomination. No two people or groups of people are equal. Even a child can see this, but it is apparently forbidden to utter such a truth in the politically-correct modern America.

I believe I pointed out that the SNN and its followers believe in inequality.

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Ratifying One’s Prejudices

During the last decade I’ve assigned Tony Horwitz’s Confederates in the Attic to a number of classes and reading groups.  I find it an absorbing book, if read in its entirety.  However, I often note that some readers dwell more on certain sections than on others, especially those featuring interesting characters who say or do outlandish things.  In discussion I ask readers whether Tony’s book can be subjected to a criticism that one can often make about studies of popular culture: that he set out to find that which was most colorful, most extreme, most astonishing, all with the result of making the unrepresentative seem representative, and in the process he reinforced unfair stereotypes.  The answers are often very interesting: Tony’s book is not about all southerners, just some southerners (and reenactors, who also seem offended by the book) who have a particular interest in the Civil War.  It’s not that the people Tony describes do not exist (they do), but that they are not representative of very much.   Or are they?

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Who Supports “Flagging” the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts?

Over the past several months a group of Confederate heritage advocates has been protesting the decision of the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts in Richmond to fly the Confederate Battle Flag and other Confederate flags at the site of a chapel located at an old soldiers home.  The protest has drawn some attention in the blogosphere, but not much, frankly; the visuals make for a good local news story, as we can see.

Not all the attention devoted to this protest has been negative or neutral.  The “flaggers,” as they style themselves (they are even festooned with ribbons celebrating their activities) have support … from the Southern Nationalist Network.  Yup, these folks. The ones who claim that southerners “are a people. Our ancestors came from Europe but we long ago ceased to be Europeans.”  In short, no blacks allowed.  Sound familiar?

It should.  These are folks who openly proclaim that …

Southern nationalists … want to conserve a specific people and culture…. We can point to a specific population that is easily defined in terms of ethnicity and culture and say that the betterment of this nation of people is what we support.

and …

We are nearly the only group left in society who still defend the classical and common sense notion that inequality and human differences are natural and positive and that society should embrace these differences in a tradition of ordered liberty rather than socially-manipulated equality.

The article includes a picture taken at a recent “flagging” featuring protest organizer and “super activist” Susan Frise Hathaway, who graciously consented to an interview with SNN.

Interesting that for all this talk about black Confederates supporting the CSA that these southern nationalists explicitly exclude African Americans from their definition of “southerner.”  Wonder what went wrong?

So at least now you know who supports the “flaggers” and that the head of the “flaggers” enjoys having their support.

A Different Type of Civil War Park

Over the years I’ve been to Shiloh several times and visited Corinth, Mississippi, as well.  Corinth’s really developed as a Civil War site over the years, and next time I’ll spend more time there … including a visit to the site of the contraband camp established there during the war.

Like Fort Monroe, which has received attention recently for becoming a park that will, among other things, commemorate the even that led to the origin of the word “contraband” to described former slaves who had escaped to Union lines, the NPS has opened a park dedicated to exploring the process from slavery to freedom.  Kevin Levin mentioned the park three years ago, so this post serves as something of an update to his comment.

There is no reason not to define “Civil War site” as something more than battlefields or places of military significance.  A site like this, much like Birmingham’s Kelly Ingram Park, tells an important story in moving ways.  I can’t wait to see it for myself.