Elaine's Reviews > Mary Chesnut: A Diary From Dixie

Mary Chesnut by Mary Boykin Chesnut
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Aug 23, 11

A real change of pace. this is a jaw-dropping diary of a Southern lady's life during the Civil War. She came from the highest of Southern society, was very perceptive, and highly educated--and did not bother to be so ladylike as to stint on her estimate of of Yankees and males. This is definitely a herstory, as the introduction to the Barnes & Noble eBook says.

The sheer amount of social engagements she attended and gave is numbing, but so out of my experience, I felt compelled to read on. She traveled constantly all during the war. Her husband was an aide to Jefferson Davis and she knew all the F.F. families in the South, it seems.

Most telling are the menus of the incredible banquets served up to the last months of the conflict. Truffles? Real ones, not chocolate.

Similarly, jewelry-encrusted gowns are worn by ladies.

The life of luxury and leisure slavery allowed these people is beyond imagination. Every wealthy First Family lived like Royalty.

But, her comments on slaves and Northern hypocrisy before and after Emancipation, these are well worth the read. Her own slaves continued to live with her for 20 years, when she died. They had nowhere else to go, these privileged house servants. She doesn't write much about the 1000 field hands her father-in-law owned.
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