Patrick Gibson's Reviews > Confederates in the Attic: Dispatches from the Unfinished Civil War

Confederates in the Attic by Tony Horwitz
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Jan 19, 2009

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bookshelves: history, road_trip, truth_sort-of
Recommended for: people who like social commentary road trips
Read in January, 2009 , read count: 1

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 traversing the Confederate states seeking living history, myth, culture, prejudice, pride and anything else that came along from people who consider the past one hundred and thirty years as an intermission in the war of succession.

And he found it. Most of what he writes is fairly predictable. If you are scrapping the bottom of the Southern barrel you are bound to come up with eccentric characters. The book is full of them. There is also a sense of sadness in the tone—not just because so much time is spent traipsing and reflecting Civil War cemeteries. Unlike one of Sarah Vowell’s road trips there doesn’t seem to be any joy in the subject matter. The book is very readable and parts fascinating. Like the war, I was glad when it came to an end.
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