Reviews for Confederate Reckoning : Power and Politics in the Civil War South

Book News Reviews
The story of the Confederacy during the Civil War is typically framed as a progression of bloody battles with the South losing its bid for secession in the final tally. McCurry (history, U. of Pennsylvania), however, found that the slaveholders and generals who sought to protect their pro-slavery, anti-democratic state had apparently failed to consider not only how difficult it would be to unite its citizens who were not slaveholders, but had also failed to bring white women and slaves into the equation. In their initiative to build the state they envisioned, the leaders of the Confederacy hadn't anticipated the resistance to its cause from such a large number of its own people. The book is interesting reading, and a more complete picture of the causes of the demise of the Confederacy. Annotation ©2010 Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (

Choice Reviews 2011 February
That wars often have unanticipated results is clear. As McCurry (Penn) vividly demonstrates, in the case of the Confederate States of America (CSA), those results were both ironic and far-reaching. Conceived as a slaveholding republic, the CSA found itself having to confront the politics of its most marginalized constituencies, poor white women and slaves. The former, left destitute by the army's rapacious needs for men and supplies, created an identity as "soldier's wives" and by letter, petition, and violent protest forced Confederate authorities to alter policies to meet their demands. The latter, recognizing the value that their labor held for both sides, leveraged it to achieve the goal of freedom. In the end, the exigencies of war would force the Confederacy into a debate on the contradictions of a slave's position as both person and property and the meaning of emancipation for a slaveholding republic. Whether these events were of "world historical proportions" or as "transformational" as claimed can be argued, but that they are vital to a full understanding of the war cannot be denied. An important book for all libraries with Civil War collections. Summing Up: Highly recommended. All levels/libraries. Copyright 2011 American Library Association.