Cover image for Still fighting the Civil War : the American South and southern history
Still fighting the Civil War : the American South and southern history
Goldfield, David R., 1944-
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
Baton Rouge : Louisiana State University Press, [2002]

Physical Description:
xiii, 354 pages : illustrations ; 24 cm
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
F209 .G65 2002 Adult Non-Fiction Non-Fiction Area

On Order



Newcomers to the South often remark that southerners, at least white southerners, are still fighting the Civil War - a strange preoccupation considering that the war formally ended more than one hundred and thirty-five years ago and fewer than a third of southerners today can claim an ancestor who actually fought in the conflict. But even if the war is far removed both in time and genealogy, it survives in the hearts of many of the region's residents and often in national newspaper headlines concerning battle flags, racial justice, and religious conflicts. In this sweeping narrative of the South from the Civil War to the present, noted historian David Goldfield contemplates the roots of southern memory and explains how this memory has shaped the modern South both for good and ill. He candidly discusses how and why white southern men fashioned the myths of the Lost Cause and the Redemption out of the Civil War and Reconstruction and how they shaped a religion to canonize the heroes and reify the events of those fated years. Goldfield also recounts how blacks and white women eventually crafted a different, more inclusive version of southern history and how that new vision has compete

Reviews 3

Publisher's Weekly Review

The South, according to Goldfield, has a serious identity crisis regarding race. An example: Kentucky was a Northern state during the Civil War, yet today Todd County, Ky., holds a "Miss Confederacy" contest in which the winner is judged by her "poise, hair, hooped skirt, and answers to questions such as `What will you do... to promote and defend Southern heritage?' " But the biggest divide is between the experiences of whites and blacks, and this provocative book raises the difficult question of how and if Southern history can honor the different, often deeply antithetical experiences of black and white Southerners. Goldfield (Black, White, and Southern: Race Relations and Southern Culture), professor of history at the University of North Carolina-Charlotte, carefully uncovers and dissects many aspects of Southern history how evangelical Christianity evolved to embrace white supremacy; the role white women assumed as wives and mothers in maintaining and promoting the unequal racial status quo after the Civil War; Booker T. Washington's call to Southern blacks "to submit to segregation... in exchange for white assistance in gaining educational opportunities" and charts the myriad ways in which, according to the author, racism has become accepted and integral to how Southern heritage is conceptualized. Goldfield's main focus, however, is in making the case that while blacks and whites have held radically different visions of it, a more unified Southern history is possible. Goldfield notes that "the danger is that both visions will reside, as do the races, in parallel universes"; he points out that while 100 Southern cities have renamed streets to honor Martin Luther King, most "run through dilapidated black neighborhoods." Drawing on a wide range of sources as well as contemporary reporting, this deftly written historical analysis takes on a difficult topic with passion, sensitivity and integrity. (Mar.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Library Journal Review

Goldfield (history, Univ. of North Carolina, Charlotte) focuses on how race, religion, and Civil War history have shaped Southern culture. He discusses how Southern white men turned the Civil War and the Reconstruction era into the "Lost Cause" and "Redemption" in an effort to restore the principles on which Southern society rested, namely, white supremacy and patriarchy. The first part of the book focuses on the white male establishment's efforts to maintain the status quo. Goldfield then describes how white and African American women and, finally, African American men slowly but steadily worked toward equality. The author argues that, despite a great deal of progress, the South continues to be burdened by its past, citing the recent South Carolina flag controversy as an example. Goldfield's narrative consists of short historical vignettes drawn from history, journals, diaries, and novels interspersed with his own musings and opinions, making it more a compilation of interesting stories and reflections than a social history of the period. Recommended only for academic libraries with comprehensive Southern history collections. Robert K. Flatley, Frostburg State Univ., MD (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Choice Review

Still Fighting represents a significant contribution to the study of the origins of the "lost cause" myth that was created after the Civil War to justify the sacrifices made in the defense of the Confederacy, and that permeated all Southern institutions. Goldfield (Univ. of North Carolina, Charlotte) asserts that Southern white men, in order to compensate for their defeat, built the "New South" on a myth grounded in patriarchy and racism. Despite efforts made by progressive whites and African Americans, the myth withstood all challenges. Dissenters often questioned the prevailing view of Southern history prior to the Civil War as a land of cavaliers and their ladies at their peril. The recent flap over the Confederate flag, Goldfield points out, demonstrates the saliency of the debate. He also declares that some progress has been made in creating a more diverse and inclusive Southern history. However, he will "not hold his breath" in anticipation of a totally balanced Southern history. Despite only 30 percent of Southerners being able to trace an ancestor to Confederate service, many have adopted the symbols of the "lost cause" as their own. A superb work for all levels and collections. D. R. Turner Davis and Elkins College