Wednesday, October 1, 2014

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Off the Shelf: Gary Gallagher

• Gary Gallagher, “Becoming Confederates: Paths to a New National Loyalty,” University of Georgia Press.

Looking at the allegiances of Confederate generals  Robert E. Lee, Stephen Dodson Ramseur and Jubal A. Early, University of Virginia history professor Gary Gallagher shows how their ties to their native states, the slaveholding South, the United States and the Confederacy and their political perspectives represent responses to the Civil War in his new book, “Becoming Confederates: Paths to a New National Loyalty.”

For Gallagher, the paths of these men in the mid-19th century toward Confederate loyalty help delineate important contours of American history. Gallagher discusses how their paths also show how Americans juggled multiple – often conflicting – loyalties, and his   exploration of the men’s experiences helps us understand why Confederates waged a bloody war and how they dealt with defeat.

In a review of the book, former U.Va. history professor and College of Arts & Sciences Dean Edward L. Ayers, now president of the University of Richmond, wrote, “These three powerful portraits, painted with bold strokes and evocative detail, bear the unmistakable marks of Gary Gallagher’s mastery of the historical craft. The decisions made by these men help us understand the decisions all white Southerners faced in the era of the Civil War.”

Gallagher, John L. Nau III Professor in the History of the American Civil War in the College, is the author of many books on the Civil War, including most recently “The Union War” and “Causes Won, Lost and Forgotten: How Hollywood and Popular Art Shape What We Know about the Civil War.”

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