The Complete Civil War Journal and Selected Letters of Thomas Wentworth Higginson / Edition 2

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"I desire to record, as simply as I may, the beginnings of a momentous military experiment, whose ultimate results were the reorganization of the whole American army and the remoulding of the relations of two races on this continent. . . . I can only hope that the importance of the subject may save me from that egotism which makes great things seem little and little things seem less in the narrating."

So wrote Thomas Wentworth Higginson about his role in one of the most compelling and fascinating episodes in the history of the United States. As the colonel of the first regiment of black men in the Union army during the Civil War, Higginson was an early, articulate, and powerful crusader for civil rights, and his journal and letters, collected for the first time in this volume, present some of the most extraordinary documents of the Civil War.

Higginson was a politically engaged intellectual at the forefront of radical antislavery, labor, and feminist causes. Born in 1823 to a formerly wealthy but still prominent Brahmin family, he became one of America's leading social activists and a prominent writer, minister, and reformer. With the publication in 1869 of his classic Army Life in a Black Regiment, which drew on this journal, Higginson became one of the most important chroniclers of the Civil War. The Complete Civil War Journal and Selected Letters of Thomas Wentworth Higginson is the first comprehensive edition of his journal. Sensitively and thoroughly annotated by Christopher Looby and supplemented by a large selection of Higginson's wartime letters, this volume offers the most vivid and intimate picture of the radical interracial solidarity brought about by the transformative experience of the army camp and of Civil War life.

"The immediacy of Higginson's reflections, as well as their sharp insights, make this journal both distinctive and enduringly compelling . . . . Higginson's vivid texts can once again educate, gratify and delight readers."—Publishers Weekly

"This volume will enrich our understanding of the transformations that emancipation and war wrought."—Library Journal

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Editorial Reviews

Library Journal
Higginson is best known today for Army Life in a Black Regiment (1870), which described his service as a colonel commanding a regiment of ex-slaves in the Union army, and for his connection to Emily Dickinson. His contemporaries also recalled that the Massachusetts reformer battled for abolition and women's rights and later dabbled in literary criticism. In this edition of Higginson's wartime journal, augmented by selected letters, Looby (English, Univ. of Pennsylvania) contributes additional source material on the experiences of white commanders of black soldiers. Looby's introduction concentrates on the conscious literary construction of the journal, giving short shrift to the historical context of the documents and minimizing the persistence of Higginson's racial attitudes. Ultimately, barriers of class as well as race and military rank prevented Higginson from meeting his men on an even field. Still, this volume will enrich our understanding of the transformations that emancipation and war wrought. For academic libraries only.--Brooks D. Simpson, Arizona State Univ., Tempe Copyright 1999 Cahners Business Information.
In 1870 Higgins published , his account of being a colonel of the first black regiment in the Civil War. Still in print, it is based on his extensive war diary, which itself is first published here. Accompanying it are a selection of his letters. He became a leading social activist, minister, and writer in his native New England. Annotation c. Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (
The New Yorker
Higginson's journal offers vivid portraits of settings, people, and experiences that were exotic to a New Englander who had once been a minister.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780226333304
  • Publisher: University of Chicago Press
  • Publication date: 12/28/1999
  • Edition description: 1
  • Edition number: 2
  • Pages: 412
  • Product dimensions: 6.20 (w) x 9.10 (h) x 1.40 (d)

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