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The Mosby Myth: A Confederate Hero in Life and Legend

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Confederate Colonel John Singleton Mosby (1833-1916) was only one of a number of heroes to emerge during the Civil War, yet he holds a singular place in the American imagination. He is the irrepressible rebel with a cause, the horseman who emerges from the forest to protect the embattled farmer and his household and bring retribution to the invader. Mosby was the fabled 'Gray Ghost' of the Confederacy, a mythic cavalry officer who operated with virtual impunity behind Union ...

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Overview

Confederate Colonel John Singleton Mosby (1833-1916) was only one of a number of heroes to emerge during the Civil War, yet he holds a singular place in the American imagination. He is the irrepressible rebel with a cause, the horseman who emerges from the forest to protect the embattled farmer and his household and bring retribution to the invader. Mosby was the fabled 'Gray Ghost' of the Confederacy, a mythic cavalry officer who operated with virtual impunity behind Union lines near Washington, D.C.

Within his lifetime, and continuing to the present, Mosby has been appropriated as a cultural symbol. Mosby has regularly appeared in various genres of popular culture throughout the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, becoming a creation of novelists, poets, Hollywood screenwriters, and biographers. But why has Mosby become a figure of our collective imagination while other heroes of the conflict have not? The Mosby Myth: A Confederate Hero in Life and Legend by Paul Ashdown and Edward Caudill is the first book devoted to explaining Mosby's place in American culture, myth, and legend.

Through the story of John Mosby, the authors examine how the Civil War becomes memory, history, and myth through experience, art, and mass communication. The Mosby Myth provides not just a biography of John Mosby's life, but a study of his legacy. Ashdown and Caudill present depictions of Mosby in fiction, cinema, and television, and offer a revealing analysis that explains much about American culture and the way it has been affected by the lingering impact of the Civil War.

Well-written and informative, this book is sure to provoke new thought about the effect of the memory of Mosby-and the memory of the Civil War-on American society and culture.

The Mosby Myth is an excellent resource for courses on the Civil War.

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Editorial Reviews

James A. Ramage
Paul Ashdown and Ed Caudill provide an outstanding, thoroughly researched, and entertaining analysis of the Mosby legend in American popular culture.
James Ogden III
Here is a first-rate study of how we as a people come to know what we think we know about our historical past.
David B. Sachsman
Paul Ashdown and Ed Caudill do a fine job of separating the myth from reality and a splendid job of explaining the creation of the legend and how it fits in the American story, our national folklore, our image of ourselves.
Military History Of The West - Sharon A. Roger Hepburm
The Mosby Myth contributes to the scholarship of the realtionship between history and memory. What emerges from the pages is a story of the development of the Mosby Myth and and explanation fo why it endures, thus showing in a large context how Americans form and use their memories of the Civil War.
David Madden
In a time when more and more fields of Civil War study have been rendered fallow by repetitive use, Ashdown and Caudill plow fresh, fertile soil by focusing on the many ways a hero and his public collaborate to create a legend. While they offer a brief life of Mosby in a vigorous style, they go on to explain lucidly how and why the ‘Gray Ghost’ has captured the imagination of Americans for almost 150 years.
Teaching History
Ashdown and Caudill's work is thoroughly researched, each chapter concluding with a series of detailed notes. The book makes a fine addition to the library of any Civil War scholar or amateur buff.
Military History Of The West
The Mosby Myth contributes to the scholarship of the realtionship between history and memory. What emerges from the pages is a story of the development of the Mosby Myth and and explanation fo why it endures, thus showing in a large context how Americans form and use their memories of the Civil War.
— Sharon A. Roger Hepburm, Radford Universtiy
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Product Details

Meet the Author

Paul Ashdown and Edward Caudill are professors of journalism at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville.

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Table of Contents

Part 1 I Satyr's Child Chapter 2 Phantoms of the Past Chapter 3 The Name on the Wall Chapter 4 Smoke and Shadows Part 5 II Mythmakers Chapter 6 The Idea of a Myth Chapter 7 Bohemian Fables: Mosby in the Press Chapter 8 Mosby in Popular LIterature and Biography Chapter 9 Mosby on Television and in Popular Art

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