Tuesday, March 14, 2006

In the land of cotton

Confederates in the Attic is the Civil War book for people who don't read Civil War books. Sorry for the cliche, but it's true. The book is funny and insightful. It's sort of a travel book, as the author travels the South trying to understand why so many people (north and south) are so fascinated by the war. It's also a bit of a sociological study as the author teams up with some "hardcore" reenactors. He met these folks after they started reenacting a battle in his Northern Va. neighborhood. For me this was the best part of the book. These people are serious. They get into arguments about the kinds of buttons they should be allowed to wear. They will scold someone who is eating an apple variety that didn't exist before 1865. To be called a farb, is to be a posuer, a failed reenactor.

As someone from South of DC, I am always a tad leery of northern types examining the South. Despite yourself you expect the Dukes of Hazzard treatment, all rednecks and yahoos. Fortunately, Horwitz is a fair and friendly observer who truly wants to understand the thinking of the people he meets. While he is funny, the humor is never cruel as you might find in a PJ O'Rourke. He also shows the wide variety of people in the South and of those interested in the Civil War. He even goes on a wargasm with a reenactor where they try to see as many Civil War sites as possible in a weekend.

I've given or recommended this book as much as just about any other. Try it, it's good for you.

No comments: