This Republic of Suffering: Death and the American Civil War

This Republic of Suffering: Death and the American Civil War

by Drew Gilpin Faust
3.4 43

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Overview

This Republic of Suffering: Death and the American Civil War by Drew Gilpin Faust

More than 600,000 soldiers lost their lives in the American Civil War. An equivalent proportion of today's population would be six million. In This Republic of Suffering, Drew Gilpin Faust reveals the ways that death on such a scale changed not only individual lives but the life of the nation, describing how the survivors managed on a practical level and how a deeply religious culture struggled to reconcile the unprecedented carnage with its belief in a benevolent God. Throughout, the voices of soldiers and their families, of statesmen, generals, preachers, poets, surgeons, nurses, northerners and southerners come together to give us a vivid understanding of the Civil War's most fundamental and widely shared reality.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780375703836
Publisher: Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group
Publication date: 01/06/2009
Series: Vintage Civil War Library
Edition description: Reprint
Pages: 368
Sales rank: 129,883
Product dimensions: 7.94(w) x 5.14(h) x 0.74(d)

About the Author

Drew Gilpin Faust is president of Harvard University, where she also holds the Lincoln Professorship in History. Dean of the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study from 2001 to 2007, she came to Harvard after twenty-five years on the faculty of the University of Pennsylvania. She is the author of five previous books, including Mothers of Invention: Women of the Slaveholding South in the American Civil War, which won the Francis Parkman Prize and the Avery Craven Prize. She and her husband live in Cambridge, Massachusetts.

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This Republic of Suffering 3.4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 43 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
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.
Melissa_W More than 1 year ago
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.
Guest More than 1 year ago
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.
mryoda More than 1 year ago
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.
dmgESQ More than 1 year ago
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.
redsoxTW More than 1 year ago
The civil war changed everything. This documents in depth, several life altering changes made during this war by people who cared about people. Sadly there are too few people who extend themselves like these did. But much of what these few did has saved countless lives in conflicts around the world redsox
Marek More than 1 year ago
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.
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jbraetzke More than 1 year ago
Bought this to listen to on a trip to Savannah. I was fascinated by the material and generally kept up with what was being discussed, but after disc four or five, I found myself tuning out the narrator. I barely made it through all the cds, and still haven't finished the epilogue. I really do want to revisit this, but will only do so when I can actually read it.
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