Reviews for Generation at War : The Civil War Era in a Northern Community


Choice Reviews 2012 May
Rural, democratically leaning, socially conservative, economically unremarkable Putnam County, Indiana, was atypical of the sectional extremes fomenting the Civil War. Etcheson, who holds a named professorship at Ball State Univ., suggests such communities were nonetheless common and deserve a closer examination as to how they changed under the stresses of the sectional conflict. Her microhistory of Putnam County mines every conceivable public and private documentary source to analyze how ordinary citizens struggled with challenges to gender roles, race relations, economic standing, and political power from the 1850s to the end of the 19th century. Avoiding a theoretical emphasis, Etcheson places hundreds of personal stories in a richly detailed cultural and social context. Her conclusions about the impact of the war are largely compatible with previous, more large-scale analyses of the war era, as her own comments on those studies illustrate. Her success lies in her ability to reach a broad audience by presenting change in familiar terms as happening to believable individuals living in an understandable environment. Summing Up: Recommended. Public and college libraries, especially in the Midwest. General Readers; Lower-division Undergraduates; Upper-division Undergraduates; Two-year Technical Program Students. P. F. Field emerita, Ohio University Copyright 2012 American Library Association.

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