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This Republic of Suffering: Death and the American Civil War (Vintage… (2008)

by Drew Gilpin Faust

Other authors: See the other authors section.

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1,500448,602 (3.97)62
An illuminating study of the American struggle to comprehend the meaning and practicalities of death in the face of the unprecedented carnage of the Civil War. During the war, approximately 620,000 soldiers lost their lives. An equivalent proportion of today's population would be six million. This book explores the impact of this enormous death toll from every angle: material, political, intellectual, and spiritual. Historian Faust delineates the ways death changed not only individual lives but the life of the nation and its understanding of the rights and responsibilities of citizenship. She describes how survivors mourned and how a deeply religious culture struggled to reconcile the slaughter with its belief in a benevolent God, and reconceived its understanding of life after death.--From publisher description.… (more)
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Showing 1-5 of 45 (next | show all)
This Republic of Suffering: Death and the American Civil War by Drew Gilpin Faust is an eye-opening, informative, and sober look at life up close and personal. When I thought of the Civil War I had never really thought of all the details of what it would be like other than tv shows. This book takes you down and dirty on the death and suffering of the dead and dying but those around those men. There are problems I would have never thought of. Heartbreaking, informative, and I cried at times for the terrible injustices that transpires. I read about the worst in some people but I saw the best in others.
In some ways the feelings are a lot like today. ( )
  MontzaleeW | Aug 29, 2020 |
Not a light read but very interesting and enlightening. I was especially taken with the contrasts between how society processed so much death and destruction- then and now. Many aspects of how our nation deals with the tragedy of war stems directly for it’s experiences during the Civil War. ( )
  labdaddy4 | Jul 22, 2020 |
Well written and presented but -- just too damned depressing. An account of the costs of our national nightmare. Not a tome to snuggle up with on a cold rainy day. ( )
  Richard7920 | Feb 19, 2020 |
An extremely grim, if absorbing, book. Faust takes a look at how both sides in the American Civil War treated the issue of their dead; he focuses mostly, though not exclusively, on the dead soldiers. The book marches through a logical progression, to wit: Dying, Killing, Burying, Naming, Realizing, Believing and Doubting, Accounting, and Numbering. One of the strongest things I got out of the book is how the war changed the way the United States dealt with its war dead; granted, the other wars previous to this (and subsequent to it) did not have the ferocious levels of dead that the Civil War did, it still strikes one that it was not just societal changes that made the treatment of the dead different. Technology, both in the killing and the recovery of the dead, had changed much. (After all, the railroads could send the boys to war, and bring their remains back.) The selection of illustrations is well-chosen. For the most part, Faust avoids trendy buzzwords in historiography (though gender stuff crops up a few times). Another thing, while I think of it, that crops up is how well Walt Whitman comes off in the book. The level of care he gave to wounded and dying soldiers says much about the man's basic decency; and of course, it enriched his own understanding and writing. A number of other reviews comment on how grim the book is. Undeniable, given the subject matter. If you can stick it, though, it's a good read. Recommended. ( )
  EricCostello | Dec 21, 2018 |
One might say "another book about the Civil War, why?" but this is a remarkable effort. Gilpin looks at death in mid19th Century America with the focus on the Civil War and how the country handled the 600,000 plus deaths that came about because of the war. She organized the volume in chapters that focused on the idea of dying, the rules of burial, how to mark graves when you do not know the name of the soldier you are burying, the impact of all these deaths on the civilian population, what did the country owe to all these dead men in terms of recognition of where their final resting place was and the cost to the country and its people by the loss of all these men.

I approached this volume anticipating reading a scholarly tome but while she conducted great amounts of research and the notes and bibliography are immense, this turned out to be a page turner for me. Gilpin fills the pages with anecdotes from diaries, newspapers and memoires to illustrate her points. ( )
  lamour | May 25, 2017 |
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» Add other authors (2 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Faust, Drew Gilpinprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Booher, JasonCover designersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
O'Sullivan, Timothy H.Cover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Raver, LornaNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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In Memory
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McGhee Tyson Gilpin
1919-2000

Captain, U.S. Army
Commanding Officer
Military Intelligence Interpreter Team #436
6th Armored Division

Wounded August 6, 1944
Plouviens, France

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Mortality defines the human condition.
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An illuminating study of the American struggle to comprehend the meaning and practicalities of death in the face of the unprecedented carnage of the Civil War. During the war, approximately 620,000 soldiers lost their lives. An equivalent proportion of today's population would be six million. This book explores the impact of this enormous death toll from every angle: material, political, intellectual, and spiritual. Historian Faust delineates the ways death changed not only individual lives but the life of the nation and its understanding of the rights and responsibilities of citizenship. She describes how survivors mourned and how a deeply religious culture struggled to reconcile the slaughter with its belief in a benevolent God, and reconceived its understanding of life after death.--From publisher description.

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