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To read the author’s essay about The Fall of the House of Dixie: Ammending Civil War Narrative and request a free review copy of the book, go to: http://tiny.cc/u1rqrw
In this major new history of the Civil War, Bruce Levine tells the riveting story of how that conflict upended the economic, political, and social life of the old South, utterly destroying the Confederacy and the society it represented and defended. Told through the words of the people who lived it, The Fall of the House of Dixie illuminates the way a war undertaken to preserve the status quo became a second American Revolution whose impact on the country was as strong and lasting as that of our first.
In 1860 the American South was a vast, wealthy, imposing region where a small minority had amassed great political power and enormous fortunes through a system of forced labor. The South’s large population of slaveless whites almost universally supported the basic interests of plantation owners, despite the huge wealth gap that separated them. By the end of 1865 these structures of wealth and power had been shattered. Millions of black people had gained their freedom, many poorer whites had ceased following their wealthy neighbors, and plantation owners were brought to their knees, losing not only their slaves but their political power, their worldview, their very way of life. This sea change was felt nationwide, as the balance of power in Congress, the judiciary, and the presidency shifted dramatically and lastingly toward the North, and the country embarked on a course toward equal rights.
Levine captures the many-sided human drama of this story using a huge trove of diaries, letters, newspaper articles, government documents, and more. In The Fall of the House of Dixie, the true stakes of the Civil War become clearer than ever before, as slaves battle for their freedom in the face of brutal reprisals; Abraham Lincoln and his party turn what began as a limited war for the Union into a crusade against slavery by issuing the Emancipation Proclamation; poor southern whites grow increasingly disillusioned with fighting what they have come to see as the plantation owners’ war; and the slave owners grow ever more desperate as their beloved social order is destroyed, not just by the Union Army, but also from within. When the smoke clears, not only Dixie but all of American society is changed forever.
Brilliantly argued and engrossing, The Fall of the House of Dixie is a sweeping account of the destruction of the old South during the Civil War, offering a fresh perspective on the most colossal struggle in our history and the new world it brought into being.
"In a deep, rich, and complex analysis of the period surrounding and including the American Civil War, University of Illinois historian Levine (Confederate Emancipation) compares the South to the House of Usher in Poe's famous story: the prosperous and powerful South looked invincible, but it had a flaw that made its collapse slow but inevitable. . . . With a quarter of the text given over to notes and works cited, it's clear Levine has left no stone unturned to tell this story, and his argument is solid." --Publishers Weekly
"In his accomplished new book, Bruce Levine, a history professor at the University of Illinois, tells the story of the Civil War's inexorable destruction of slavery and the social order it sustained. An absorbing social history." --The Wall Street Journal
“Levine's engrossing story chronicles the collapse of a doomed republic – the Confederate States of America – built on the unstable sands of delusion, cruelty, and folly.”
--ADAM GOODHEART, author of 1861: The Civil War Awakening
“This book limns the relationship between slavery and the rise and fall of the Confederacy more clearly and starkly than any other study. General readers and seasoned scholars alike will find new information and insights in this eye-opening account.”
--JAMES M. MCPHERSON, Pulitzer Prize-winning author of Battle Cry of Freedom
“Bruce Levine brings us into the homes of the southern masters, vividly tracing the origins of the ‘slaveholders rebellion’ and its dramatic wartime collapse. With this book, Levine confirms his standing among the leading Civil War historians of our time.”
--JAMES OAKES, author of The Radical and the Republican
“In this engrossing account of the Civil War, Bruce Levine narrates a war waged off the battlefield, a war of politics and ideology that transformed both Southern and Northern culture. As Levine traces the destruction of the House of Dixie, the tragedy of missed opportunities and terrible choices unfolds brilliantly in the able hands of this fine historian.”
--CAROL BERKIN, author of A Brilliant Solution
"The idea that Southern secession was unconnected to the defense of slavery holds a surprising hold on the popular historical imagination, North and South. Levine's demolition of such a misapprehension profoundly succeeds as both argument and drama. No recent account better describes the stakes of the Civil War for planters and for slaves. None more compellingly shows how the defense of slavery unraveled."
--DAVID ROEDIGER, author of Wages of Whiteness
"Bruce Levine's treatment of the revolutionary dynamics and consequences of the Civil War is thorough, convincing, and, in a word, brilliant. Our understanding of this central event in American history will never be the same."
--MARCUS REDIKER, author of The Slave Ship
“With his characteristic judiciousness and crystalline prose, Levine exposes the searing irony at the heart of the Confederate experience: slaveholders’ resort to war spelled the doom of slavery. Moreover, Levine’s keen analysis of the North’s evolving war aims brings into sharp focus what the Union victory, enduringly, achieved. He has, in short, written another modern classic.”
--ELIZABETH R. VARON, author of Disunion!
"The transformative impact of the Civil War on the American South often gets lost in popular understanding of the conflict, largely because modern Americans have contended with nothing even remotely comparable. Bruce Levine takes readers back into the turbulent world of the mid-19th century, illuminating the experiences of southern men and women--white and black, free and enslaved, civilians and soldiers--with a sure grasp of the historical sources and a deft literary touch. He masterfully recaptures an era of unsurpassed drama and importance."
--GARY W. GALLAGHER, author of The Confederate War