Heroes and Cowards: The Social Face of War [NOOK Book]

Overview

When are people willing to sacrifice for the common good? What are the benefits of friendship? How do communities deal with betrayal? And what are the costs and benefits of being in a diverse community? Using the life histories of more than forty thousand Civil War soldiers, Dora Costa and Matthew Kahn answer these questions and uncover the vivid stories, social influences, and crucial networks that influenced soldiers' lives both during and after the war.

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Heroes and Cowards: The Social Face of War

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Overview

When are people willing to sacrifice for the common good? What are the benefits of friendship? How do communities deal with betrayal? And what are the costs and benefits of being in a diverse community? Using the life histories of more than forty thousand Civil War soldiers, Dora Costa and Matthew Kahn answer these questions and uncover the vivid stories, social influences, and crucial networks that influenced soldiers' lives both during and after the war.

Drawing information from government documents, soldiers' journals, and one of the most extensive research projects about Union Army soldiers ever undertaken, Heroes and Cowards demonstrates the role that social capital plays in people's decisions. The makeup of various companies--whether soldiers were of the same ethnicity, age, and occupation--influenced whether soldiers remained loyal or whether they deserted. Costa and Kahn discuss how the soldiers benefited from friendships, what social factors allowed some to survive the POW camps while others died, and how punishments meted out for breaking codes of conduct affected men after the war. The book also examines the experience of African-American soldiers and makes important observations about how their comrades shaped their lives.

Heroes and Cowards highlights the inherent tensions between the costs and benefits of community diversity, shedding light on how groups and societies behave and providing valuable lessons for the present day.

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Editorial Reviews

Blue & Gray Magazine
Academics may want to include this volume in their undergraduate and graduate Civil War history reading list . . . and the records and collection methods included in the appendix, as well as the chapter endnotes and extensive bibliography, document the research findings of the authors. Non-academics likewise will find a copious volume of unique anecdotal entries especially enlightening.
— Arthur B. Fox
Wall Street Journal
Heroes and Cowards is interesting to read. . . . It is a work of military sociology written with one eye on the debate about the social costs of diversity. . . . Ms. Costa and Mr. Kahn emphasize the advantages of trust and mutual sacrifice that come from social similarity. They understand full well the contemporary implications of their historical study. When we contemplate helping others, whether through volunteer organizations or welfare—state transfers, we are less likely to provide for—and more likely to abandon—those who are unlike ourselves.
— David Courtwright
Choice
This is brilliant social science, dealing with key themes by means of powerful methods used on a superb database. The authors are economic historians skilled in quantitative analysis who investigate social factors that caused Union soldiers to act as heroes or cowards during the Civil War.
Spartacus Educational
Heroes and Cowards highlights the inherent tensions between the costs and benefits of community diversity, shedding light on how groups and societies behave and providing valuable lessons for the present day.
Slate.com
In their new book Heroes and Cowards, economists Dora Costa and Matthew Kahn use the Civil War as their laboratory to study what men will do in the name of friendship. They find that men serving in companies with tight social connections—like shared birthplace and occupation—were more likely to stand and fight than those in less tight-knit companies, where desertion rates were up to four times higher.
— Ray Fisman
Journal of American History
With a striking amount of data, Heroes and Cowards is one of the most impressive books this reviewer has seen in years. . . . Carefully written, with sharp analysis and new avenues for research, Heroes and Cowards is a fresh and inspiring example of social history at its best.
— Jerry Thompson
Peace Research
This is simply the best study of the motivation to fight, demonstrating the benefits of long-term and deep engagement with a case and the advantages that accrue to the successful and creative combination of quantitative and historical methods.
— Stathis N. Kalyvas
Journal of Southern History
Costa and Kahn's approach . . . should stimulate further research on the social history of the Civil War.
— Jeffrey W. Mcclurken
Wall Street Journal - David Courtwright
Heroes and Cowards is interesting to read. . . . It is a work of military sociology written with one eye on the debate about the social costs of diversity. . . . Ms. Costa and Mr. Kahn emphasize the advantages of trust and mutual sacrifice that come from social similarity. They understand full well the contemporary implications of their historical study. When we contemplate helping others, whether through volunteer organizations or welfare—state transfers, we are less likely to provide for—and more likely to abandon—those who are unlike ourselves.
Slate.com - Ray Fisman
In their new book Heroes and Cowards, economists Dora Costa and Matthew Kahn use the Civil War as their laboratory to study what men will do in the name of friendship. They find that men serving in companies with tight social connections—like shared birthplace and occupation—were more likely to stand and fight than those in less tight-knit companies, where desertion rates were up to four times higher.
Blue & Gray Magazine - Arthur B. Fox
Academics may want to include this volume in their undergraduate and graduate Civil War history reading list . . . and the records and collection methods included in the appendix, as well as the chapter endnotes and extensive bibliography, document the research findings of the authors. Non-academics likewise will find a copious volume of unique anecdotal entries especially enlightening.
Journal of American History - Jerry Thompson
With a striking amount of data, Heroes and Cowards is one of the most impressive books this reviewer has seen in years. . . . Carefully written, with sharp analysis and new avenues for research, Heroes and Cowards is a fresh and inspiring example of social history at its best.
Peace Research - Stathis N. Kalyvas
This is simply the best study of the motivation to fight, demonstrating the benefits of long-term and deep engagement with a case and the advantages that accrue to the successful and creative combination of quantitative and historical methods.
Journal of Southern History - Jeffrey W. Mcclurken
Costa and Kahn's approach . . . should stimulate further research on the social history of the Civil War.
From the Publisher
One of Choice's Outstanding Academic Titles for 2009

"Heroes and Cowards is interesting to read. . . . It is a work of military sociology written with one eye on the debate about the social costs of diversity. . . . Ms. Costa and Mr. Kahn emphasize the advantages of trust and mutual sacrifice that come from social similarity. They understand full well the contemporary implications of their historical study. When we contemplate helping others, whether through volunteer organizations or welfare—state transfers, we are less likely to provide for—and more likely to abandon—those who are unlike ourselves."—David Courtwright, Wall Street Journal

"This is brilliant social science, dealing with key themes by means of powerful methods used on a superb database. The authors are economic historians skilled in quantitative analysis who investigate social factors that caused Union soldiers to act as heroes or cowards during the Civil War."—Choice

"In their new book Heroes and Cowards, economists Dora Costa and Matthew Kahn use the Civil War as their laboratory to study what men will do in the name of friendship. They find that men serving in companies with tight social connections—like shared birthplace and occupation—were more likely to stand and fight than those in less tight-knit companies, where desertion rates were up to four times higher."—Ray Fisman, Slate.com

"Heroes and Cowards highlights the inherent tensions between the costs and benefits of community diversity, shedding light on how groups and societies behave and providing valuable lessons for the present day."—Spartacus Educational

"Academics may want to include this volume in their undergraduate and graduate Civil War history reading list . . . and the records and collection methods included in the appendix, as well as the chapter endnotes and extensive bibliography, document the research findings of the authors. Non-academics likewise will find a copious volume of unique anecdotal entries especially enlightening."—Arthur B. Fox, Blue & Gray Magazine

"With a striking amount of data, Heroes and Cowards is one of the most impressive books this reviewer has seen in years. . . . Carefully written, with sharp analysis and new avenues for research, Heroes and Cowards is a fresh and inspiring example of social history at its best."—Jerry Thompson, Journal of American History

"This is simply the best study of the motivation to fight, demonstrating the benefits of long-term and deep engagement with a case and the advantages that accrue to the successful and creative combination of quantitative and historical methods."—Stathis N. Kalyvas, Peace Research

"Costa and Kahn's approach . . . should stimulate further research on the social history of the Civil War."—Jeffrey W. Mcclurken, Journal of Southern History

Read More Show Less

Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781400829750
  • Publisher: Princeton University Press
  • Publication date: 9/2/2010
  • Sold by: Barnes & Noble
  • Format: eBook
  • Edition description: Course Book
  • Pages: 336
  • File size: 3 MB

Meet the Author

Dora L. Costa is the author of "The Evolution of Retirement: An American Economic History, 1880-1990". She teaches at the University of California, Los Angeles. Matthew E. Kahn is the author of "Green Cities: Urban Growth and the Environment". He also teaches at UCLA. Costa and Kahn are research associates at the National Bureau of Economic Research.
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Table of Contents

List of Plates xv
Preface xvii
Acknowledgments xxiii
Chapter 1: Loyalty and Sacrifice 1
Chapter 2: Why the U.S. Civil War? 26
Chapter 3: Building the Armies 46
Chapter 4: Heroes and Cowards 80
Chapter 5: POW Camp Survivors 120
Chapter 6: The Homecoming of Heroes and Cowards 160
Chapter 7: Slaves Become Freemen 187
Chapter 8: Learning from the Past 215
Appendix: Records and Collection Methods 227
Notes 243
Bibliography 273
Index 291
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Sort by: Showing all of 2 Customer Reviews
  • Posted April 20, 2009

    Sociology

    I must admit that I was a bit disappointed with this work. From the cover and contents, I expected a CW book and was surprised to see that it was mainly sociology rather than history. There was nothing revealed that surprised me or that I hadn't learned in other, more engrossing, books.

    For anyone intersted in why soldiers fought and were motivated I would highly recommend "For Cause and Comrades" and "Drawn With the Sword", both by James McPherson; "Embattled Courage" by Gerald Linderman and "Upon the Altar of the Nation" by Harry Stout. There are many other works.

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  • Posted March 16, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    A thought provoking lok at the people who are in a war

    Incredible look at the people involved in the war. It isn't just black and white letters as it gives you a greater sense of the people involved.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
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