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Confederates in the Attic: Dispatches from the Unfinished Civil War
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Confederates in the Attic: Dispatches from the Unfinished Civil War

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4.07 of 5 stars 4.07  ·  rating details  ·  14,315 ratings  ·  1,175 reviews
National Bestseller

When prize-winning war correspondent Tony Horwitz leaves the battlefields of Bosnia and the Middle East for a peaceful corner of the Blue Ridge Mountains, he thinks he's put war zones behind him. But awakened one morning by the crackle of musket fire, Horwitz starts filing front-line dispatches again this time from a war close to home, and to his own hea
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ebook, 432 pages
Published August 18th 2010 by Vintage (first published March 3rd 1998)
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Pattie
Jan 17, 2008 Pattie rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Yankees who want to understand the South
Shelves: travel, favorites
OK, so I'm on a Civil War road trip with my Significant Other, following the official Virginia state "Lee's Retreat" tour and reading to him from "Confederates in the Attic" to pass the time. The section we were reading dealt with the bigger-than-life owner of an old general store that he had turned into a museum (of sorts).

I said "this is really over-the-top -- Horowitz maybe exaggerated this guy to make a better story." S.O. said: "we should try to find the place" and just then, we pass an ol
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Brendan
In Confederates in the Attic, journalist Tony Horwitz explores the ways in which the Civil War is still present in Southern culture.

I was a Civil War re-enactor in junior high and high school, and I particularly appreciated his chapter on that very strange hobby: "A Farb of the Heart." (Farb, by the way, is re-enactor slang for all things inauthentic.)

I've not always been impressed with Horwitz's books (I thought Baghdad without a Map to be particularly slight), but here he really nails it. For
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Matt
When I was in first or second grade, I started creating books about American history: World War II, the Indian Wars and, of course, the Civil War. These books had no texts, only pictures (extremely graphic pictures that, today, would probably get me invited to the psychiatrist’s office). They were constructed (in a bit of genius, I might add) out of large, rectangular pads of Norwest Bank forms, supplied by my dad. I would take the pad and turn it upside down, using the cardboard back as a cover ...more
Peregrinn
Jan 04, 2009 Peregrinn rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: elitist Yankees, cultural studies junkies, civil war buffs
Recommended to Peregrinn by: Mrs. Walker, history teacher
Shelves: non-fiction
My junior year american history teacher assigned this for the class, and for each chapter, we had to write a little diary entry of our reaction to the content. This is why I think everyone in my grade hated this book but me. Gee whiz, why are you making us think about the effect of history on modern day? It's horrible torture, I know.

Now, it's been about four years, but from what I remember? I loved this book. I wrote pages and pages and pages in my little response-journal. (I want to dig it up
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Karen
An excellent exposé on the continuing history of the Civil War and the attitudes that persist. More importantly it (rightly) links the use of the rebel flag with the modern civil rights movement and discounts its Civil War usage. Horwitz also exposes the racist attitudes hidden within societies such as the Sons of Confederate Veterans who try to market themselves as legitimate and historical groups. For those who have not experienced first-hand the radical attitudes of these groups (such as the ...more
Maciek
Tony Horwitz's grandfather was an immigrant - like many before him he left his country and went to look for a new life in America. Although he could neither speak nor read English when he arrived from Russia, Horwitz the elder nonetheless purchased a book - a tome on the Civil War, which he continued to pore over until his death at 102. When young Tony was growing up, his father read him stories about the war instead of fairytales, which inspired him to paint a mural of the war in the attic of t ...more
Steve
I had to get this one back to the library, so I'm going on memory a bit. Generally, I really like this book, though I'm still mystified over the reenactment craze. And I'm saying this as a Virginian who grew up with the Civil War, could rattle off casualty figures for various battles (both North and South), called people north of the Potomac, "Yankees," and who even went to a Robert E. Lee High School (of which there must be dozens throughout the South). At some point, I just didn't care that mu ...more
Steve
A good read, if one believes (or wants to believe) that Southern boogeymen, dressed in woolen uniforms, their archaic muskets gleaming in the sun, are waiting to launch a second "War for Southern Independence" against the sacred Union.

O.K., maybe that's a bit extreme. But I think Horowitz treats the South the way travel writer Horace Kephart once treated Southern Appalachian mountaineers -- as a peculiar race of people, consumed by some sort of divine madness that sets them at odds with "mainst
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Patrick Gibson
Jan 19, 2009 Patrick Gibson rated it 3 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: people who like social commentary road trips
Robert Lee Hodge is the Marlon Brando of Confederate reenactors. He can swell his belly, fall to the ground, hand curled, cheeks puffed out, mouth contorted in a mask of pain and play dead. It’s what he does. And, he says, it’s a great ice-breaker. Interesting as this may be, I am not sure I would follow the author’s lead and spend nights ‘spooning’ with this guy.

Some people spend a year reading the Encyclopedia Britannica, or living Biblically. Tony Horwitz, a New England Jew spent a year trave
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David
If he weren't such a good writer I probably would have put this down because he's a bit off-base about how hung up people in the South are with the War.

After winning a Pulitzer for his journalism covering the wars in Bosnia and the Gulf, he returned home to seek out the stories of the war fought on this country's soil.

I think the problem he has is one of selection bias. If you only travel to places in the south where major battles happened, and you go to meetings of Sons of Confederate Veterans
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Mary
This is sort of a travelogue in which the author visits lots of Civil War sites, participates in reenactments, talks to groups that memorialize the confederate cause, pokes through museums, and so on. Having read this at the same time as The Known World, there were points in the book where the juxtaposition of an intimate story of the horrors of slavery and a nonfiction book about a few people who downplay slavery's importance or even romanticize it was too awful to contemplate. Sometimes, when ...more
April
Since I've spent most of my life in the South, and since I'm a fan of Gone with the Wind, I almost always find myself rooting for the Confederates. This is, of course, fully 150 years after the war, which I did not have to live through, and after the Emancipation Proclamation, which I also did not have to wrestle with. It's difficult to analyze my ancestors' ideals with my 21st century criteria.

This is the problem Horwitz runs into as well: how do you reconcile the "good old days" with the horro
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Joey
I wasn't sure about this book at first but ended up really enjoying it. The author travels the Southeast experiencing re-enactments of Civil War battles; sounds strange but the characters he comes in contact with are interesting to say the least. Tony's humor is nothing like Bill Bryson, where Bryson is condescending and mean-spirited, Tony allows you to see the humor in the situations and characters while still liking them and the author. Give this one a shot, chances are you'll end up liking i ...more
Brandi
Tony Horwitz has written a book that is very easy to read. His tone is casual and laidback, while still proving to be very informative. The book is a series of anecdotes related to his travels around the South where he describes his stint as a Confederate soldier during re-enactments as well as his dealings with those who are still deeply entrenched in a “Confederate” or “rebel” way of life. He looks at a court case where a black teenager shot and killed a white man because he was waving a Confe ...more
Jessica
Oct 21, 2007 Jessica rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: damn yankees
I read this while on vacation in Arkansas a few years ago. This is one of those books I finished and then went around for a month or two literally shaking people, while frothing at the mouth and screaming in their faces: "YOU HAVE TO @#$&ING READ THIS! HA HA HAH HAH!"

Then I completely forgot it existed. But, that has more to do with me than with this book, which is great, and still highly recommended. It's about the meaning and legacy of the Civil War, and about the South today, and, of cour
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Harris
This was a very interesting companion on my recent trip to North and South Carolina, my first time exploring a part of the American South. I always enjoy reading a travel account while traveling myself, as it provides a backdrop to my own experiences. As I followed Tony Horwitz's journeys around the South in 1998 searching for the remains of the Civil War in contemporary Southern culture, I compared and contrasted his experiences with my own as I visited historical museums and sites such as Fort ...more
Stephen
For most of the United States, the Civil War is like any other entry in the history books, of interest but not very consequential. . For the South, however, the war was and is a conflict that left deep scars across its fabric. Long after the surrender of the Confederacy, its flag still flies from countless homes throughout the region; old arguments and symbols continue to be reinterpreted and invigorated through new arguments. In Confederates In the Attic, Tony Horwitz builds on his lifelong in ...more
Caroline
A couple of years ago, I became convinced of the fact that people who grew up on the East Coast and in the Deep South areas of the United States have knowledge of and an affinity for the Civil War that the rest of us just don't have. I didn't appreciate just how much the Civil War is woven into people's lives back here. There are memorials and plaques in seemingly every town commemorating a small skirmish that occurred nearby. Families visit major Civil War battlefields on the weekends.

Me? I'd
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Jim
As a non-Southern children of Eastern European immigrants, I have always wondered about the peculiar passion that so many people in the former Confederate States of America feel about the Civil War. Except, they never call it that: It's either the War Between the States (never was no Federal gummint involved, nohow) or the War of the Southern Confederacy (who were they fighting, phantoms?). Whatever that passion it, is certainly has crossed over into our politics, where so many intransigent line ...more
Keith Akers
This is an old book and has gotten a lot of good reviews already, so I won't spend a lot of time on it. It's not about the Civil War, but about American attitudes towards the Civil War. Horwitz has done a great job. This is not just a random set of essays, but he really takes each topic and hangs on to it, investigating each one in some depth.

The book was funny, serious, and informative in different parts of the book. There were several times where I laughed out loud, especially at the descript
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Brooke
Horwitz does an excellent job approaching the subject of the South's memory of the Civil War. As someone whose ancestors weren't in America at the time (I'm in the same boat), Horwitz manages to present an unbiased survey of the conflict's cultural, social, and political implications. I'm glad he didn't attempt to argue an explanation or justification of why some groups in the South continue to cling to the Lost Cause and hijack it for their own agenda. One of my favorite things he points out is ...more
John
This book was a fun, adventurous journey and I would recommend it but is also unnerved me in some respects. The Civil War still grips our interest but for many Horwitz encountered it certainly remains an unfinished war, one that continues and one desired to begin anew. I knew there were “re-enactors” but was ignorant that the hobby?? was practiced with such devotion and intensity and spread so far and wide across the South.
I did enjoy Horwitz’ dissection of the preponderance of several myths and
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Rob
May 08, 2007 Rob rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Civil War History - Current events
Shelves: non-fiction
A fantastic book from a credentialed journalist. When I wanted to learn about racism in America I started to read about the Civil War. I got caught up in the battles and the tactics and the personalities and forgot about the issues of why it started. This book helped remind me. Some Americans still feel it was the "War of Northern Aggression." The Civil War affects our country and race every day. At one point in the book, the author attends a community meeting where children are taught Civil War ...more
Lisa
Good insight into "southern" views on the Civil War BUT I think I am more disturbed now, than before I read the book. Interesting how some people rewrite history in order to justify their views and behavior. Good book club discussion.
Noetic
One of my favorite books. It combines my love of travelogues with my appreciation for Civil War lore.
Jeffrey Williams
It was an enjoyable read! Tony Horwitz is a great author!
Tom
As a Northerner who found Yankee blood he didn't know he had rising while reading Gone With The Wind and who recently greatly enjoyed Jean Edward Smith's Grant, I read through Horwitz's travelogue wondering the same things he did: why did parts of the South still cling so strongly to the Civil War? While he doesn't give a definitive answer, he comes up with many theories, and finds colorful characters ranging from pacifists, "neo-Confederates", modern-day segregationalists, and wonderful raconte ...more
Mikel
This book was often frustrating for me because I live here in the South and I often felt like the rich culture you find was cheapened by the author. He too often tried to portray the rare Southern extremes instead of the true South and their relationship/feelings on the war. He also has some very obvious prejudice that cloud a lot of his 'research' and the way he writes the story. Example: He talks a lot about the old Charleston money that 'started' the war and still 'controls' a lot of Charlest ...more
Autumn
I've been meaning to read this book for a long time as I am currently on my own trip across the US and have very little experience in the Southern states. Horwitz is a great writer, guaranteed- otherwise why would I have all of these jumbled up feelings about what he is writing? His characterizations of individuals and indeed of entire towns did not exactly raise my level of thrill-dom to pass through the South, but alas I am a citizen of this country in all of it's glory and not-so-glorious fig ...more
Sweetwilliam
This was a good read and unlike the typical books I normally read (Military history and adventure). This book is about a war correspondent that returns to the USA after living 11 years abroad. During the years he traveled abroad, events such as the Ken Burns PBS series had rekindled an interest in the Civil War. Horwitz own interest lay dormant since high school (he used to draw murals of Rebels in his attic). Why would Horwitz, a self-confessed liberal Jew be a Rebel sympathizer? It seems afte ...more
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Date of Birth: 1958

Tony Horwitz is an American journalist and writer. His works include Blue Latitudes, One for the Road, Confederates In The Attic and Baghdad Without A Map. His most recent work, published in April 2008, is A Voyage Long and Strange: Rediscovering the New World, a history and travelogue dealing with the early European exploration of North America.
More about Tony Horwitz...
Blue Latitudes: Boldly Going Where Captain Cook Has Gone Before A Voyage Long and Strange: Rediscovering the New World Midnight Rising: John Brown and the Raid That Sparked the Civil War Baghdad without a Map and Other Misadventures in Arabia One for the Road: An Outback Adventure

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“There are people one knows and people one doesn't. One shouldn't cheapen the former by feigning intimacy with the latter.” 12 likes
“You asked how I'd define prejudice. That's it. Making assumptions about people you've never met.” 1 likes
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