In this groundbreaking work of cultural history, Alice Fahs
explores a little-known and fascinating side of the Civil War--the
outpouring of popular literature inspired by the conflict. From
1861 to 1865, authors and publishers in both the North and the
South produced a remarkable variety of war-related compositions,
including poems, songs, children's stories, romances, novels,
histories, and even humorous pieces. Fahs mines these rich but
long-neglected resources to recover the diversity of the war's
political and social meanings.
Instead of narrowly portraying the Civil War as a clash between two
great, white armies, popular literature offered a wide range of
representations of the conflict and helped shape new modes of
imagining the relationships of diverse individuals to the nation.
Works that explored the war's devastating impact on white women's
lives, for example, proclaimed the importance of their experiences
on the home front, while popular writings that celebrated black
manhood and heroism in the wake of emancipation helped readers
begin to envision new roles for blacks in American life.
Recovering a lost world of popular literature, The Imagined
adds immeasurably to our understanding of American
life and letters at a pivotal point in our history.