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Blue-Eyed Child of Fortune: The Civil War Letters of Colonel Robert Gould Shaw

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 6, 2003

    Colonel Robert Shaw: An American Hero

    Colonel Shaw was an outstanding american. He gave his life for freedom. In that time period, even for the Union Army, blacks wernt considered a "real man" yet. Shaw looked past the socitey's veiwpoints, on african americans. He was proud of his men and died for his men. He was a HERO.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 26, 2001

    Wonderful Letters, Strange Conclusions

    Russell Duncan's compilation of war letters from Colonel Shaw of the 54th Massachusetts succeeds in one area and flounders in another. The letters themselves are eloquent and enjoyable: they provide a graphic portrayal both of the hardships this young soldier endured, his struggles to become his own man in the face of intelligent, reformist and sometimes domineering parents, and his development and leadership of his black regiment (we need to notice that this is a selection; Duncan has left out some letters which would introduce a more mature, humanitarian and politically canny Shaw to the reader). The notes, with a few exceptions, clarify the letters and make them accessible. My problem is with Duncan's introductory biography. He doesn't seem well-grounded in mid-19th Century family relationships, and his transposition of 20th Century mother-love battles doesn't help understand Shaw's family or his place in it. Duncan also seems to struggle with concepts like abolitionism, egalitarianism, elitism, and what we would call today 'classism' and 'racism.' He blurrs these together and measures them against a baseline of today's thinking, a controversial practice which gives some historians pause. Readers need to salt this collection with Fredrickson's 'The Inner Civil War' (a classic available since 1965) and the more recent 'The Vacant Chair' (1992, Reid Mitchell). In sum, the letters are worth the cost of the book, the prologue and some of the conclusions he draws in the notes, less so.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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