Rob's Reviews > This Republic of Suffering: Death and the American Civil War

This Republic of Suffering by Drew Gilpin Faust
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's review
May 23, 2012

liked it
bookshelves: read-in-2012, history, non-fiction, everyone-dies
Read from June 01 to 06, 2012

(7/10) This Republic of Suffering is more a history of death, or at least a history of ways of thinking about death, than it is a history of the Civil War. Faust (what an appropriate name!) details the various ways that 19th-century American culture coped with the mass death of the Civil War and has a lot of juicy details and strange stories about a traumatized society.

I can't help but feel, though, that this might have been better as an essay than a book. Most of the chapters are variations on the same theme, and threaten to drown you in examples. The thesis of the book is constantly repeated until it becomes a vague blur. Possibly I just dislike this because it reminds me too much of my own academic writing, but it does come off as distinctly thesis-y.

Because of its specialty, this is not really a book for those generally interested in the period, and while it's more accessible than most academic tomes, it remains narrowly focused. Still, for those specifically interested in this subject, it's hard to imagine a better resource, and it's a decent read no matter which way you slice it.

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