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Confederates In The Attic

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Confederates in the Attic

As Tony Horwitz illustrates in Confederates in the Attic, the Civil War is far from over. Horwitz, determined to find the answers to this conflict, treks through the South, seeking to explain man's longtime obsession with a war that divided the nation. Talking to historians and Civil War reenactors of all kinds, he finds that people are still divided today when it comes to the war and present issues in society. He collects a vast amount of data, which proves to make things very difficult in drawing a general conclusion. Horwitz learns how differently the south views the war, discovers the way in which people use history to suit their own needs, and explores issues of race.

Horwitz begins his journey in the South, coinciding his trip with the dates of specific battles. After coming across many Civil War enthusiasts, he finds that the South has a very different perception of the battles and overall meaning of the war. There is still an "us against them" sentiment, as southerners continue to feel their way of life is threatened.

The history presented, as the truth in the South is certainly not as objective as it is in the North. Horwitz recognizes the South as being more idealistic, trying to build on its past, essentially creating a bizarre relationship with history.

The South has a way of constructing their own history based on deep-seated feelings that are challenging to explain. This unexplainable feeling is one of the very reasons Horwitz is driven to research further.

In American culture, the South has more or less been stereotyped and degraded in various ways, which naturally brings about a sense of defensiveness. The southerners stick together to defend their culture and to honor their ancestors, and for many, their passion for the Civil War is more than just nostalgia. It is family pride, a fight for the underdogs, heroism and perhaps a love of imagination.

One thing is certain- there is no trust when it comes to the bona fide truth. This distrust is evident as Horwitz discovers just how much people have used the war to suit their own needs. It seems that each individual has developed his or her own take on the Civil War. The question is, have people taken the creation of a fantasy world to an extreme?

This extreme fairy tale world is presented at the beginning of Horwitz journey, as we meet Robert Hodge and rest of his "hardcore" friends. These men live and breathe the Civil War, devoting their lives to reenacting battles and the lives of those who fought in the war. Hodge is notorious for his ability to imitate a dead, bloated Civil War corpse. He is encouraged to show everyone his "bloating," working hard to stay in character all the time. The men take pride in losing excessive amounts of weight and following the ways of Civil War soldiers to an extreme.

In a way, it can be said that these men use the war to suit their own needs in the present. Some reenactors avoid the issue of slavery all together, recreating and romanticizing battles to fulfill their Civil War obsession. While many of the men respect and honor the history they reenact, some use is as a way to elude the past and rearrange the present.

Horwitz meets a park historian named Stacey Allen, who says that every generation since the war has appeared to have a different view of the battle. Allen said the veterans themselves used more of a Victorian prose, citing and sacrifice rather than death and injury. The next generation didn't go much into the gruesome part of the war either, highlighting the battle tactics and personalities of the generals. He said that his generation, however, was focusing more on the reality of the war

As Horwitz further discusses the war with Allen, he begins to wonder if many of the things he thought were factual are much closer to fabrication. Allen was right in suggesting that the war has been reinterpreted in



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