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Look Away!: A History of the Confederate States of America
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Look Away!: A History of the Confederate States of America

3.83  ·  Rating Details ·  236 Ratings  ·  25 Reviews
William C. Davis, one of America's best Civil War historians, here offers a definitive portrait of the Confederacy unlike any that has come before. Drawing on decades of writing and research among an unprecedented number of archives, Look Away! tells the story of the Confederate States of America not simply as a military saga (although it is that), but rather as a full por ...more
ebook, 496 pages
Published April 12th 2002 by Free Press (first published April 2nd 2002)
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Luke
Jul 08, 2007 Luke rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I was a bit disappointed in this book, I bought it expecting a civil and social history of the CSA told in a somewhat chronological manner, i.e as a story. Indeed, the book stats out that way, telling the story of secession and the formation of the provisional government in Mobile, but then just as as the move to Richmond is taking place (and getting really interesting to a Virginian), the author changes style and for the rest of the book each chapter covers. The topics and their coverage, which ...more
Ken
Mar 16, 2014 Ken rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book is a must-read for so many of us who don't really know what the Confederacy was about, or what it stood for. I know many people have a vested interest in making light of slavery, and making excuses for the Confederacy.

I picked up this book figuring that there must be some positive reforms that came out of the Confederacy, but as Davis tells it, the founders were selfish hypocritical rationalizers. The Confederacy really was all about instituting a class of aristocrats to rule over the
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Jim Bouchard
Dec 31, 2010 Jim Bouchard rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Northerners, you won't truly know the South until you read this book!

The Civil War continues to shape our culture and society event today. To really appreciate your American heritage, you must learn it from various perspectives. America has no single culture, but rather has several amazing legacies. This is a wonderful look at one of them.
Caroline
Most histories of the American Civil War are very heavily skewed towards the Northern point of view, particularly in terms of the behind-the-scenes political machinations and general governance of the war. That makes this book all the more interesting since a lot of the information about the politics and debates and discussions within the South about secession was completely new to me, and it was refreshing to see the alternative point-of-view from the usual Lincoln/Washington/North/abolition st ...more
Steven Peterson
Well known historian of the Civil War, William Davis, has written a nicely done political history of the Confederate States of America. While, as the author notes (page ix), "The campaigns and battles are here," the main thrust of the book is (page x) ". . .seeks to present a comprehensive view of everything else that went into making the Confederate national experience. . . ."

There is a useful discussion early on of the nature of the Confederate Constitution. My own sense is that this could ha
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Stephen
While most Civil War histories concentrate on military campaigns, Look Away! chronicles the history of the Confederacy from a political and social perspective. Its attempt to ignore military matters is almost futile given that the Confederacy was born in war and perished amid it, as its every institution (civic, social, economic) was ravaged by the war and driven into failure. The story of Look Away is one of a doomed nation, riven in contradiction from the start. Examining the feuds between the ...more
Andrew
Dec 02, 2012 Andrew rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Look Away! is William C. Davis' social, and mainly, political history of the Confederate States of America. Davis explores the reasons the Confederacy came about, how it's government and constitution were framed (and by whom), and how that government and society worked (and largely failed to work). The author provides short summary chapters as bumpers in between the main ones to cover the course of the war, which does nicely to provide context to the rest of the narrative while still focusing on ...more
SteveDave
Jan 22, 2015 SteveDave rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: civil war buffs, people interested in American history
Actual rating 3.5 stars.

I gave it 4 stars because of the depth of research and the attention to detail by the author.

Unlike other history books on the Civil War, this one is far less focused on the war itself, instead examining the political, economic and social history of the Confederacy. It was interesting to see how quickly the values of the Confederacy were lost in the quest to win the war - state rights gave way to a central Confederate government that began to pass laws in direct contrast
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Jason King
There aren't too many books I'm aware of that are written specifically from the Confederate POV, so this book is definitely a needed one. And the book underscores some critical elements about the Confederacy that often go underreported: that many of the states in the CSA entered into it with deep reluctance (and pockets in many of those states, especially in the poorest regions, tended to be the most pro-Union), that the Confederacy was populated with poor leaders and poor generals (only Lee, th ...more
Rick Edwards
Jul 24, 2011 Rick Edwards rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Most of the historical work one finds on the Civil War period relate to the military and naval conflicts. Davis gives us a revealing look behind the war at the politics of the Confederate States of America. Pick up this book and learn about the different factions within the Confederacy, opposition to Jefferson Davis's presidency, and problems structuring a central government in a "confederation" as against a "union" of states. Discover problems collecting taxes, managing revenues, and dealing wi ...more
Brian Neumann
Mar 26, 2015 Brian Neumann rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
After seeing the front cover (a Confederate battle flag), I was worried this book would be a simplistic, neo-Confederate story of resistance against "northern tyranny." It's actually a nuanced exploration of the flaws and contradictions inherent in Confederate democracy, a system that trampled on the very rights it professed to defend. The Confederate government imposed intrusive new taxes, conscripted men to fill its armies, and seized crops and supplies to feed those armies. Confederate ideolo ...more
Chuck
Feb 23, 2016 Chuck rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
William C Davis' "Look Away A History of the Confederate States of America" discusses the high political leadership of the Confederacy. It covers the antebellum period through the end of the American Civil War. The relationships, goals and actions of the leadership in both the National Government and the 11 member states is discussed.

Attempting to create a new country, fight a war, and reconcile a vast disparate set of goals and agendas, all on the fly, is a challenging task. Add to this a group
...more
Aaron Crofut
Aug 01, 2010 Aaron Crofut rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: history, civil-war, war
An interesting and enjoyable work considering the Confederate States of America apart from the military aspects (as much as possible for a state that never really saw a day of peace). Davis goes into quite some detail explaining the hardships faced by the people and the governments at all levels in sustaining a living while dealing with a destructive conflict in a newly forming country. Military, political, economic, and for soldiers, civilians, and politicians alike, personal issues are all int ...more
Dreepa
Feb 14, 2010 Dreepa rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This was on my 'to read' list for a long time. I figured it is an area that doesn't get much attention as most books focus on the military side of things.

I learned a lot about the politics of the South during the Civil War.. and learned that just like anywhere else... the South though 'united'... had its factions as well which I think many of us tend to forget.

I also learned a lot about how much the government confiscated from the people which sort of breaks the mold of the 'free south'.

The book
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Rich
Nov 15, 2012 Rich rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Davis' history of the Confederate government sheds welcome light on this oft-neglected aspect of the Civil War.

The book does an excellent job of showing how the delegates who gathered in Montgomery took upon themselves the responsibility for creating a government from scratch.

Davis also shows how, really from the very start, the Confederate government operated in crisis-mode & so began to crack under the pressures of war. Throughout the war, but most clearly by the end of the conflict, thi
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Aloysius
Jul 18, 2013 Aloysius rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A good overview of the different issues that faced the Confederate States of America on the home front during its four years of existence. Davis doesn't just talk about the battles or the status of slavery (though there is plenty of that) but also expands his survey to include such things as the status of women in society, Unionist dissent, military vs. civilian control, political rivalries and personal animosities, states rights, and government control of the economy.
Sean Chick
Aug 12, 2011 Sean Chick rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A superb book, well researched, written, and argued. Read it with Vandiver's "Their Tattered Flags" to get another perspective.
Jenny
May 18, 2013 Jenny rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
The Confederacy was more than plantatons and moonlight. This book lays out the political, social and economics that helped lead to the Civil War.William Davis makes the period come alive.
John Mosman
Aug 07, 2013 John Mosman rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: history
Well done history of CSA, interesting how the home of state rights had it turned on its head as the war progressed.
Sue
Jul 13, 2015 Sue rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: slaves-civil-war
Another great big "term paper" kind of book, with over 60 pages of bibliography. At least he included some pictures, in the middle.
Nick
May 18, 2010 Nick rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: people interested in the confederacy, but not that interested in war history.
A really great history of the Confederacy. Very little focus on the Civil War, which is good if you tire of that sort of thing. Very unsympathetic to the institution of slavery, and rightfully so.
Jay Wilkins
Jan 07, 2009 Jay Wilkins rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A good look at the Confederacy from the political points of view, bypassing the well-worn war commentary.
John
Sep 15, 2014 John rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: civil-war
Some of the issues which lead to the Civil War are still with us. There is still a large population who believe that limited democracy is a good thing.
Clayton Brannon
Clayton Brannon rated it it was amazing
May 27, 2012
Angela
Angela rated it liked it
Feb 10, 2015
James Stella
James Stella rated it liked it
Jan 13, 2015
Laurie
Laurie rated it it was amazing
Jun 21, 2012
Josh Bowen
Josh Bowen rated it it was ok
May 01, 2011
Jake
Jake rated it liked it
Jan 18, 2016
Darla
Darla rated it liked it
Apr 29, 2008
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Currently professor of history at Virginia Tech, William C. Davis has written over fifty books, most about the American Civil War. He has won the Jefferson Davis Prize for southern history three times, the Jules F. Landry Award for Southern history once, and has been twice nominated for the Pulitzer Prize.

For several years, he was the editor of the magazine Civil War Times Illustrated. He has also
...more
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