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Touring the Civil War

Ever since I was young, I’ve had an extreme interest in the Civil War.  Recently, it seems to have caught up with me.  As a resident of Lawrence, August is always a special month for me as it marks the anniversary of Quantrill’s Raid.  Occurring in 1863, the attack on Lawrence is one of many connections Kansas has to the Civil War.  This time of year, I like to read a book about the Civil War, but I didn’t want something that simply spouted historic facts with no real filler.  Confederates in the Attic by Tony Horwitz was recommended to me, and within the first few paragraphs I was hooked. 

Describing his life as a boyhood  Civil War buff, I immediately related with Horwitz and his fascination with the war that divided a nation.  Randomly encountering men who dress up in period clothing and re-enact scenes from the Civil War, Horwitz finds himself intrigued and having strange adventures with this interesting group of people, who diet simply so they can best resemble a Civil War soldier.  Horwitz writes, “Hardcores didn’t just dress up and shoot blanks.  They sought absolute fidelity to the 1860s: its homespun clothing, antique speech patterns, sparse diet and simple utensils.  Adhered to properly, this fundamentalism produced a time-travel high, or what hardcores called a ‘period rush’”.  Throughout his adventures and explorations into the life of “hardcores” who immerse themselves completely into the Civil War way of life, Horwitz provides insight on why many Americans are still so fascinated with the war.

Horwitz goes from Gettysburg to Antietam combining history and humor to present an absorbing view on how the Civil War continues to affect Americans.  Horwitz accompanies Civil War enthusiast Robert Lee Hodge on a marathon trek from Antietam to Gettysburg, and ending appropriately at Appomattox.  He sleeps on the battlefields and wakes up in the morning to the sound of musket fire.  With descriptions so vivid you can almost smell the smoke of the campfire, Horwitz ignites an interest in the Civil War like other authors can sometimes fail to do.   Overall, Horwitz ignited a new spark in my Civil War obsession.  I find myself planning tentative road trips to battlefields to experience even a fraction of what he did during his journey.  Whether you’re a Civil War buff or new to the subject, you will finish this book with a newly sparked interest indeed.  You never know, maybe someday I’ll dress up in Civil War garb and experience what it was like to be a Civil War soldier myself.  – Kelli, Reference


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