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Description de l’éditeur
The American companion to A History of the World in 100 Objects, a fresh, visual perspective on the Civil War
From a soldier’s diary with the pencil still attached to John Brown’s pike, the Emancipation Proclamation, and the leaves from Abraham Lincoln’s bier, here is a unique and surprisingly intimate look at the Civil War.
Lincoln scholar Harold Holzer sheds new light on the war by examining fifty objects from the New-York Historical Society’s acclaimed collection. A daguerreotype of an elderly, dignified ex-slave; a soldier’s footlocker still packed with its contents; Grant’s handwritten terms of surrender at Appomattox—the stories these objects tell are rich, poignant, sometimes painful, and always fascinating. They illuminate the conflict from all perspectives—Union and Confederate, military and civilian, black and white, male and female—and give readers a deeply human sense of the war.
Lincoln scholar Holzer and the New-York Historical Society scour the museum's archives to fashion an object-oriented Civil War history. Presented in chronological order, the objects serve as a means for Holzer to discuss the history of the war: he begins with "bilboes", shackles for child slaves, and moves to paintings, newspapers, buttons, and flag fragments. The most interesting moments arise when Holzer opens up little-known parts of history. The draft riots of 1863 are represented by the tumbler used to draw names for military service and a burnt Bible recovered from the ashes of an orphanage. There is a ticket to one of many fund-raisers for those injured in battle. On the whole, the objects are somewhat obvious: a drum, leaves from Lincoln's funeral, diary entries and letters. As a focal point, the book uses New York's fickle role in the war the city tried to secede alongside the South before reluctantly siding with the Union and offers a fresh take on a well-trod topic. However, most of these objects relate stories we already know and Holzer's short accompanying bios provide little new insight; it will be welcomed in classrooms and by those who know only the basics of the war.