Jan. 9, 2013 — Race and Reunion

This presentation will consist of Brian Schoen’s overview of David Blight’s book Race and Reunion: the Civil War in American Memory and Carl J. Denbow’s review of Albion Tourgée’s novel, A Fool’s Errand: A Novel of the South During Reconstruction. Both of these books deal with post-war America and how the country coped with the aftermath and legacy of those horrible years.

An amazon.com summary of Blight’s book says that it “delves deeply into the shifting meanings of death and sacrifice, Reconstruction, the romanticized South of literature, soldiers’ reminiscences of battle, the idea of the Lost Cause, and the ritual of Memorial Day.”  The summary goes on to say that Blight “resurrects the variety of African-American voices and memories of the war and the efforts to preserve the emancipationist legacy in the midst of a culture built on its denial.”

Even though Tourgée’s book is a novel, scholars believe the book to be largely biographical as it describes the futility of the efforts of its main character to bring racial reconciliation to the South.