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This Republic of Suffering: Death and the American Civil War

Average Rating 3.5
( 45 )
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(11)

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(7)

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Most Helpful Favorable Review

9 out of 10 people found this review helpful.

Interesting, informative and very readable

A newspaper review of this book made me sure I wanted to read it. I certainly wasn't disappointed. A textbook it isn't 'I was afraid it was going to read like one!' That is why it is so very readable. Each chapter covers a different part of how our country and our...
A newspaper review of this book made me sure I wanted to read it. I certainly wasn't disappointed. A textbook it isn't 'I was afraid it was going to read like one!' That is why it is so very readable. Each chapter covers a different part of how our country and our citizens acted, reacted and changed as they faced the terrible carnage of the Civil War. The chapters are illustrated not with statistics but with the words of those who lived during that time. The book is not a book about a war it is a book of how the war affected people -- the living, the dying, the dead, civilians and citizenry alike. I am recommending it to members of the genealogical society to which I belong. I would hope that the somewhat gloomy title of this book would not cause anyone to avoid reading it.

posted by Anonymous on April 3, 2008

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Most Helpful Critical Review

3 out of 19 people found this review helpful.

I just plain didn't like it.

This work was obviously written for the "intellectual" crowd. I understand that the author is the president of a very prestigious university, and this work would probably be well accepted by her peers, but for me, it was just plain boring.

I consider myself to be ...
This work was obviously written for the "intellectual" crowd. I understand that the author is the president of a very prestigious university, and this work would probably be well accepted by her peers, but for me, it was just plain boring.

I consider myself to be extremely well-read. I have at least 20 books on my night stand at any given time. I have an IQ of 142, and the author used several words that I had never heard before. True, I expanded my vocabulary as a result, but that was not one of my objectives when I began to read this book.

I am interested in Civil War history, and have only recently begun to really get into reading about it. However, this work added only a very minor amount to my knowledge of the topic. I had anticipated and hoped that it would have given me much more.

In summary, I didn't like it, and would not recommend it to others.

Dr. Mike Rice
Johnstown, PA

posted by mzrdmd on May 30, 2009

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  • Posted March 18, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    I Also Recommend:

    Well-written and plenty of information

    Dr. Faust has provided a book with a different perspective on the Civil War - not just battles, numbers, and letters home about the carnage, it details how the huge death toll of the Civil War actually altered how the American consciousness processed death, burial, and memorialization. Many of the procedures we take for granted to identify and bury our soldiers originated in practices developed during and after the Civil War, in particular the National Cemeteries system (Faust also makes the point that the Union dead were honored by Congress with the system, leaving Confederate dead to honored solely by private societies - a sticking point for decades and centuries). Fausts use of soldiers' and families' letters to detail the process of identification and burial humanizes a number of the dead men, many of whom weren't famous but ordinary. A particularly heart-wrenching section of the book details Walt Whitman's visits to soldiers in hospital, attempting to bring comfort and friendship to dying men. Several battlefield photographs included in the book are not for the queasy but are well-placed to illustrate how gruesome and arduous a task it was to give the war dead proper identification and burial. The style of the book is academic but very easy to read and I very much recommend Dr. Faust's work in this this book.

    5 out of 5 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 5, 2008

    Enlightening

    I am reading this book now and I recommend it to anyone who enjoys learning about the Civil War. This book sheds light on the toll that the Civil War took on our country and our people.

    5 out of 5 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted June 27, 2009

    I Also Recommend:

    A Good and Insightful Read

    I agree with other reviewers that the book is a bit repetitive, but I do think that it flows nicely and transitions well from chapter to chapter.

    The work is very informative and I enjoyed reading the information filled with tons of quotes and primary sources. Having walked several civil war battlefields in the last year, the book really brought home the magnitude of the suffering that the war brought on and how soldier and civilian alike attempted to cope with the devastation. I found myself thinking about the wars we are in today and relating some of the stories to present time.

    I very much enjoyed it.

    4 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted April 27, 2012

    Very Detailed

    This was an interesting take on the Civil War. Written by a well educated Harvard President, the story of death and destruction and how the Civil War changes the way we conceive of War death and mourning is intriguing. A war that cost over 600,000 lives, all Americans continues to stir many books, but unlike those, this work of history hits everyone in the same spot -- their humanity.

    3 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted March 13, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    One death, a tragedy: One million, a statistic

    All too often the casualty figures of a particular war assume an impersonal, sterile,and statistical element because of the shear magnitude of the numbers. Not many more so than the American Civil War. Because nearly all casualties were American ,fought on American soil, and was the first large scale modern industrial war, does this conflict have specific impact on us in the United States. Ms. Faust examines several aspects of the conflict relating to death on a more personal level than just the numbers of specific battles. She guides us through such topics as the embalming, burying, record keeping(or lack of), identifing of the dead as well as the suffering of the living surviving family members and the effect it had on survivors. Ms. Faust also touches on several subjects involving the development of the national cemetery system and record keeping, as well as the various womens memorial associations in the South. My only complaint is that, perhaps, Ms.Faust should have expanded several of her chapters which I felt were almost too brief and were worthy of-dare I say-individual books. Maybe in the future.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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