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Confederates in the Attic


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About the Author

Tony Horwitz is a native of Washington, D.C., and a graduate of Brown University and Columbia University's Graduate School of Journalism. As a newspaper reporter he spent a decade overseas, mainly covering conflicts in Africa, the Middle East, and the Balkans for The Wall Street Journal. Returning to the U.S., he won the Pulitzer Prize for national reporting and wrote for The New Yorker before becoming a full-time author. In addition to Confederates in the Attic, his books include the national and New York Times bestsellers, Blue Latitudes, Baghdad Without a Map and A Voyage Long and Strange. His latest book, Midnight Rising, was named a New York Times Notable Book. Horwitz has also been a fellow at the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study at Harvard University and a history columnist for Smithsonian magazine. He is currently the president of the Society of American Historians. Horwitz lives in West Tisbury, Massachusetts with his wife Geraldine Brooks, their sons, dogs and alpacas.

Tony Horwitz's new book, Spying on the South: An Odyssey Across the American Divide, is available May 14th, 2019.


YA-Fascination with the Civil War runs in Horwitz's family. His Russian immigrant great-grandfather continued to pore over books on the subject at age 101 and his father read to the author each night from a 10-volume photographic history. Years later, the author and his wife awoke one morning to the sounds of a mock Civil War battle being filmed in front of their Virginia home. Subsequent conversations with the participants rekindled this enthusiasm and launched Horwitz on a year-long quest to determine why the Civil War continues to enthrall so many Americans. He journeyed throughout the Old South, visiting battlefields and museums. He joined "super hardcores" such as Robert Lee Hodge, learning about "farbs," "spooning," and "period rushes." He conversed with the only living Confederate widow and witnessed both the "Catechism" taught to Children of Confederate Veterans and the attitudes of black teens in Selma, AL. While his encounters ran the gamut from amusing to infuriating to positively frightening, this Pulitzer Prize-winning reporter relates them all with clarity and honesty. Read Confederates simply for the engrossing, well-written account of contemporary American culture that it is or choose any chapter to spark or enliven class discussion. Don't miss this one.-Dori DeSpain, Herndon Fortnightly Library, Fairfax County, VA

"The freshest book about divisiveness in America that I have read in some time. This splendid commemoration of the war and its legacy . . . is an eyes-open, humorously no-nonsense survey of complicated Americans." --Roy Blount Jr., New York Times Book Review

"In this sparkling book Horwitz explores some of our culture's myths with the irreverent glee of a small boy hurling snowballs at a beaver hat. . . . An important contribution to understanding how echoes of the Civil War have never stopped." --USA Today Horwitz's chronicle of his odyssey through the nether and ethereal worlds of Confederatemania is by turns amusing, chilling, poignant, and always fascinating. He has found the Lost Cause and lived to tell the tale a wonderfully piquant tale of hard-core reenactors, Scarlett O'Hara look-alikes, and people who reshape Civil War history to suit the way they wish it had come out. If you want to know why the war isn't over yet in the South, read Confederates in the Attic to find out." --James McPherson, author of Battle Cry of Freedom

The first book the author's Russian grandfather bought on emigrating to the U.S., though he neither read nor spoke English, was about the Civil War, a book he still pored over into his 90s. And when Horwitz was a child, his father read him tales of the Civil War instead of fairy tales and children's literature. The powerful hold of that conflict on a diverse assortment of Americans translates into more than 60,000 books on the subject, according to the author; for some Civil War buffs it is an obsession that generates a startling number of clubs whose members regularly reenact the battles, playing out once again the logistics, problems, hardships, leading characters, losses and victories. Horwitz (Baghdad Without a Map), on a year-long exploration of these groups throughout the South, participated in some of their activities and came to know the lives and personalities of several of their members. His vivid, personal account is a mesmerizing review of history from a novel and entertaining angle. (Mar.)

Like many Americans, Wall Street Journal senior writer and Pulitzer Prize winner Horwitz (Baghdad Without a Map, LJ 1/91) is obsessed with the Civil War. In his new book, he journeys to battlefield sites and joins Civil War reenactors. Horwitz finds that most reenactors glorify battlefield valor and that white Southerners remember mostly the sense of loss‘the war, the antebellum era, and the agrarian way of life. He also understands that many black Southerners want Americans to remember that slavery caused war and that race is the war's legacy. As Horwitz demonstrates, the Civil War is alive, raw, and poignant, and his entertaining dispatches remind us that our memory of it is concerned more with symbolism and today's values than with an accurate understanding of the American culture that made the war possible. Recommended for public and academic libraries.‘Charles L. Lumpkins, Pennsylvania State Univ., University Station

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