A Shattered Nation: The Rise and Fall of the Confederacy, 1861-1868

In This Review

A Shattered Nation: The Rise and Fall of the Confederacy, 1861-1868

By Anne Sarah Rubin
University of North Carolina Press, 2005
336 pp. $34.95
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Those interested in the nature of American nationalism will find much food for thought in this accomplished discussion of the way Southerners rejected their American identities during the Civil War and developed a sense of themselves as Confederates. Close readings of magazines and newspapers and of history textbooks intended for the rising generation of Confederate youth provide a detailed picture of an identity in formation. Some national heroes became Confederate villains; others, like George Washington, remained larger than life. Religion helped shape Confederate identity, and Rubin's account of this process illuminates the way in which evangelical religion informs the contemporary sense of American identity for some. With the military defeat of the Confederacy, Confederate identity went through another shift: even as they grudgingly accepted the Union victory, ex-Confederates began to develop the dual identity still found across much of the South today -- militant American patriots still nostalgic for the Lost Cause of secession.