Johns Hopkins University Press


If Robert J. Cook’s Civil War Memories: Contesting the Past in the United States since 1865 makes one clear point, it is that while the collective memories of the Civil War have always been fluid, they tend to veer, flow, and fracture alongside America’s racial transformations. So, with Black Lives Matter activists in the streets and white nationalists in the halls of government, those memories in 2018 are undeniably raw and relevant. Current debates surrounding the removal of Jim Crow era Confederate statuary, starkly divided attitudes toward the Confederate Battle Flag, and divergent responses to violence by white supremacist defenders of Confederate “heritage” in Charleston, South Carolina, and Charlottesville, Virginia, betray how the historical memory of the Civil War continues to illuminate regional, political, and, most especially, racial disunity in the United States. Simply, black and white Americans inhabit separate realities when it comes to how race and historical memory intersect.