Anne Sarah Rubin
The University of North Carolina Press, 2014, 300 pp.+ 14 pp. Introduction, $35.00
Image courtesy of amazon
In the celebration of the Sesquicentennial of the March to the Sea, there have been many new analyses of the event, but this work by Anna Sarah Rubin is a bit different. While the beginning of the book deals with the details of the March to the Sea, the rest of the book looks at the way in which the people have remembered the march through personal memoirs, works of fiction and even on film. What is accomplished in this work is much more different than what any other work has accomplished about this subject and it is well appreciated.
Anna Sarah Rubin is an associate professor of history at the University of Maryland in Baltimore County. She has also authored A Shattered Nation: The Rise and Fall of the Confederacy, 1861 – 1868. This book is also part of The University of North Carolina Press’ Civil War America Series. Works of authors and primary sources dealing with not only the military aspect of the Civil War but of the social and political aspect, this series has given us some of the best works on the Civil War during the Sesquicentennial celebration of the Civil War.
The book opens with an explanation on the March to the Sea as an event in American History but then goes on in the in depth analysis on how the people who fought and lived it remembered the fateful march. If there is one campaign which is more written about in the annals of Civil War history other than Gettysburg, it has to be Sherman’s march. Oftentimes when reviewing works, I am intruiged by what is new that is presented in the book and this work does not disappoint. Rubin looks at the march in every way possible and makes connections as to how the campaign is remembered. One of the most interesting stories she recalls is that of Brother Masons and Sherman’s involvement in the work. She makes the point, however, that Sherman was never, or at least there is no evidence to prove, that he was a Mason. There is belief then, that any Masonic work which occurs with Sherman present must have some legend to the tale. Fans of the film Gone With the Wind will find some interesting points made in her section devoted to that film and novel. She points out that even though Margaret Mitchell did considerable research on the book, the novel and film have often gone into the greater understanding of the march and even Reconstruction itself. Rubin mentions Mitchell’s dependence on Lost Cause historiography and closes with the statement of Gone With the Wind as the Civil War in mass understanding and that Sherman, though he never appears on page, is the villain in the novel creating once again, the stigma of Sherman as an animal of Total War.
I highly recommend this book to enthusiasts on the March to the Sea and students of the Civil War. I especially recommend this work to historiography students and teachers as a process of how the writings, fiction and non-fiction, songs and movies have created perspective which may not be entirely correct. I believe this to be one of the more innovative books which has been published this year on the Civil War and one of the more innovative books on the March to the Sea.