Michael Perman reviews Long Shadow of the Civil War

My thanks to historian Michael Perman of the University of Illinois at Chicago for his thoughtful review of Long Shadow of the Civil War: Southern Dissent and Its Legacies in the Summer 2010 issue of Civil War Book Review:

Vikki Bynum

5 replies »

  1. I enjoyed the review by Michael Perman. Ouch! He did offer up some constructive comments. And yes, perhaps these constructive comments have validity, yet part of the interest in reading Vikki’s book is in the discovery of finding one’s own ancestors mixed in the bunch. (My own weren’t there, but for those whose ancestors fit into the scheme of things, I can only imagine what a kick it would be to read even tidbits about them as so noted.)

    As I noted to Vikki, I would have enjoyed seeing a time frame in terms of who was President following the end of the Civil War until the conclusion of her book.

    Still, there can be no doubt that this esteemed Professor found Vikki’s book of great value. And as Martha Stewart would say, “That’s a good thing.”


    • Hi Vikky,

      Yes, Michael Perman did give constructive criticism, and I expected most of it. It’s always risky for a historian to include as much genealogical material in a non-genealogical study as I did. And he’s right that I did not provide a concise theoretical overview of dissent. Nor did I write a conventional epilogue providing an overview of the entire book.

      But that’s the kind of book I chose to write, and I don’t regret it. Over the years, I have collected all these stories about people and groups who are at least loosely connected to one another historically, and I was determined to tell them. Although I drew on my historical training to analyze them in the context of the Civil War and its long shadow, The Long Shadow of the Civil War is at bottom a collection of essays about people whose lives or actions contradict many of our most sacred myths about the past

      What I like about Professor Perman’s review is that he clearly recognized and appreciated those stories despite wishing that certain aspects of the book had been done differently.



  2. Just goes to prove that your book is going to be around for a long time. Rich and revealing. This will be one of those books that will inspire and be cited in hundreds of studies, thesis, and books to come.


    • Thank you, Jon! Would that your kind words would come true; in the meantime, I’m happy if folks out there simply enjoy the stories and appreciate what they tell us about a not-so-united Southern past.



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