Air Date: 110907
Subject: Thoughts on the Civil War
Book: This Mighty Scourge: Perspectives on the Civil War
Guest: James M. McPherson
Summary: James McPherson discusses his new book This Mighty Scourge and offers other thoughts on the Civil War.
Brett’s Summary: James McPherson, as Gerry says in the opening to this episode, needs no introduction to most students of the Civil War. His Battle Cry of Freedom is widely regarded as the best one volume history of the Civil War.
In the first portion of the show, McPherson and Gerry discuss some of the essays from This Mighty Scourge. In one essay McPherson wrote about the tendency of publishers to bend to the desire of Southern states to have textbooks which present the Confederacy in as positive a light as possible, and says this lasted up through the 1960s.
McPherson pointed out the massive determination of the Confederacy to win the war. He believes the South could have won and almost did at three points, the fall of 1862, the spring of 1863, and the summer of 1864, but in each case Union victories turned the tide. He firmly believes the South was more determined than the North as a whole to win the war, and states the massive casualties incurred by the South before they finally surrendered.
The two historians had an interesting conversation about the predominance currently of social history in academia, and McPherson stated he has argued many times with social historians about the ability of military actions to affect the outcome of the war. They also discussed the surge of memory studies in the past 15 years or so and speculated on how likely it was this surge was going to continue. Dr. McPherson believes it may go on for quite some time.
Civil War Talk Radio airs most Fridays at 12 PM Pacific on World Talk Radio Studio A. Host Gerry Prokopowicz, the History Chair at East Carolina University in Greenville, North Carolina, interviews a guest each week and discusses their interest in the Civil War. Most interviews center around a book or books if the guest is an author. Other guests over the years have included public historians such as park rangers and museum curators, wargamers, bloggers, and even a member of an American Civil War Round Table located in London, England.
In this series of blog entries, I will be posting air dates, subjects, and guests, and if I have time, I’ll provide a brief summary of the program. You can find all of the past episodes I’ve entered into the blog by clicking on the Civil War Talk Radio category. Each program should appear either on or near the date it was first broadcast.
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